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Where were you when ...?

Before taking a break from its-teachers, one of my weekly tasks was coming up with a topical teaching activity for the coming week. No doubt at this moment in time, I'd be putting the finishing touches to a classroom activity on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy which took place 50 years ago on November 22, 1963.

I asked Rob Metcalf, a long-time collaborator on the magazine, where he was when he'd heard the news of the assassination. 'Probably in a cot', he replied, proving that not everyone who was alive at the time vividly remembers where they were when they heard the news. I was 7 at the time and I have a strong memory of returning home from a concert with my brother and finding our parents sitting, listening to the radio news.

Thinking about the anniversary reminded me of a Jackdaw Publication I bought (or was bought for me) five years later. It was a dark blue folder that contained copies of material related to the assassination. After digging around in a trunk, I found it this morning. On the cover it says 'recommended for adults and older children only'. I'm not sure if 12 can be considered 'older children' but I do remember spending hours going through the contents of the folder that included:

  • The final Page of the Warren Commission Exhibit 387: Summary of autopsy report
  • Warren Commission Exhibit 385: Medical illustration of President Kennedy’s neck wounds
  • A full size reproduction of the alleged assassination weapon
  • Dealey Plaza plan and model

I seem to have lost the model but everything else seems to be there. The folder and its contents must have had a big impact on me a) because I still have the original folder and b) because the iT's English activity books were originally published as loose pages inside a folder. Did the idea come from Jackdaw?

Assuming that these folders must have gone out of print decades ago, I had a look online and was surprised to discover that Jackdaw still exists and still sells its Kennedy pack which it says is 'sure to inspire lively classroom debate and help students form their own hypotheses and opinions'. If you click on the link to the next page, you'll find another of their publications - Black Death: The Plague. 'When they (your students) see the “Plague Banner” and “Dance of Death” posters, you will have their full attention.' I'm sure they're right.

I have to confess that I've never written a classroom activity on The Plague or the Kennedy Assassination although it did feature in our Conspiracy Theories activity. If you have an original idea for a classroom activity to mark the Kennedy anniversary, let me know!

The Jackdaw folder and contents