Digital History>eXplorations>The Puritans>Teacher Resources>Witchraft Lesson Plan

Teacher Resources

Witchcraft Lesson Plan

Introduction/Overview:
Students gather research about the Salem Witchcraft Trials and participate in a mock trial.

Learning Objectives:
The student will analyze and evaluate the theories concerning the causes of the Salem Witch Trials

Suggested Activities/Procedures:

  1. Assign roles or positions for a mock trial. Suggested roles: prosecution, defense, defendants, witnesses against, character witnesses for (family, friends), jury, judge, bailiff, medical expert witness.
    Use the information at http://etext.virginia.edu/salem/witchcraft/texts/index.html to find actual names of people involved in the trials.
  2. Research for information (from given sites, library, history museums, CD-Rom software – stress the use of primary sources where possible).
    Include present day theories about the Salem Witch Trials
  3. Each student must provide a written document of bullet points concerning their role.
  4. Hold mock trial.

Time Required: 1 week

Teacher Preparation:

  1. Check the links to all the sites before beginning the unit. There is some redundancy in case any links are not working. Verify that you can access all the information you need.
  2. Send the students to http://etext.virginia.edu/salem/witchcraft/texts/index.html to make a list of trial participants. Add any participants in a modern trial.
  3. As a class, develop a final list of participants and assign roles.
  4. Stress the importance of Standard English spelling, grammar, and punctuation for all written assignments.
  5. If necessary, review the trial process before beginning the mock trial.
  6. Throughout the unit, monitor students to make sure they are on task and involved. The written document about their roles forces them to be prepared for the trial.
  7. Provide the students with precise guidelines for the final paper before the trial begins so they can record anything they need to at that time.

Evaluation/Assessment:

The students write a paper including the account of the trials, the theories concerning the hysteria and the students’ opinions of each.

Student Materials:

The Salem Witch Trials: Student Navigation Sheet
Directions: Use these instructions and tips to help you prepare efficiently for your role in the trial.

  1. Go to http://etext.virginia.edu/salem/witchcraft/texts/index.html to find the names of participants in the original trials.
  2. Determine which other people would be included in a modern trial. (Medical expert, psychologist, etc.)
    The class shares lists of people in the trial. The teacher assigns or the class selects roles for the trial.
  3. Once you know your role, you can begin your research.
  4. Take notes for each site as you go along. Note the source of the information for use in citations.
  5. During the trial, record your impressions of the trial, the people involved, and the explanations advanced by the expert witnesses.
  6. After the trial, use your impressions to write your paper about the trial.

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