You are here

Chatting With
Historical Figures


Arts & Humanities
--Language Arts
Educational Technology
--U.S. History
--World History


Pre K K-2 3-5 6-8 9-12 Advanced (Adaptable for most grades)

Brief Description

Students test and check their knowledge of Abraham Lincoln by chatting with an AI (artificial intelligence) chat bot." They then research another historical figure and use the information they discover to create their own chat bots.

Note: A chat bot is a simple web-based program that allows users to type in questions and get replies. See Abraham Lincoln.


Students will
  • develop their abilities to do collaborative web research.
  • develop their knowledge of historical figures.
  • develop their critical thinking skills.
  • learn how to take notes online.


history, research, collaborative, research
  • Internet access
  • the Web site Virsona
  • some form of word processing program for note taking.

Lesson Plan

Note: This lesson also can be done as a short-term project, with some tasks being assigned as homework.

Stage 1: Interviewing Abraham Lincoln
Start the lesson by showing a picture of Abraham Lincoln. Try to elicit what students can remember about him.
Ask students to imagine that they are going to meet Lincoln. Arrange them in small groups and ask each group to think of 10 questions they would like to ask him. They might be serious questions about historical events, or personal, more light-hearted questions.
After students have written their questions, have them go to Lincolns page on the Virsona web site. Here they will see a chat bot programmed with information about Abraham Lincoln. If there are enough computers, have students work in pairs or small groups to type their questions and get the answers. They should keep a record of the answers. (If youre working in a one-computer classroom, you might have students call out questions for you to type in.)
Bring the class back together and have students report what they found out about Lincoln.
Ask students if they know how the web site works and if they think a real person is answering the questions. Explain that Lincoln is an example of a chat bot" programmed using Artificial Intelligence (AI). You also might explain a little about The Turing Test.

Stage 2: Research
Tell students they are now going to create their own chat bots. To do that, they will need to register on the Virsona site. (They will need an email address.)
First, they need to decide who their chat bot will represent. You might choose an historical figure or figures for them or let them decide on their own.
Next, have students research their historical figure on the web. To get them started, you might suggest Wikipedia or the BBCs Historic Figures.
Make sure students record their information in a document of some kind, ideally a word processing document.

Stage 3: Creating a Chat Bot
When theyve completed their research, have students go to Virsona and sign in.
They then create their chat bots by entering questions and answers based on the historical figure they have researched. They also might upload an image of the person to make it more realistic.
Note: You might show students a short clip on how to teach a chat bot.
Give students plenty of time to input the information to their chat bot. Encourage them to test their chat bots by asking questions and adding answers. Show students a short clip on how to test their chat bots.
When students have done as much as they can, encourage them to exchange URLs and test each others chat bots.


Students grades should be based on their engagement in the activity and the quality of their final product. You might ask students to see how many questions they can ask each bot before it is unable to answers and give your own Turing award for the best bot.

Lesson Plan Source

Nik Peachey Submitted By Nik Peachey National Standards

NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
NL-ENG.K-12.4 Communication Skills
NL-ENG.K-12.5 Communication Strategies
NL-ENG.K-12.6 Applying Knowledge
NL-ENG.K-12.7 Evaluating Data
NL-ENG.K-12.8 Developing Research Skills
NL-ENG.K-12.11 Participating in Society
NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

NSS-USH.K-4.3 The History of the United States: Democratic Principles and Values and the People from Many Cultures Who Contributed to Its Cultural, Economic, and Political Heritage
GRADES 5 - 12
NSS-USH.5-12.1 Era 1: Three Worlds Meet (Beginnings to 1620)
NSS-USH.5-12.2 Era 2: Colonization and Settlement (1585-1763)
NSS-USH.5-12.3 Era 3: Revolution and the New Nation (1754-1820s)
NSS-USH.5-12.4 Era 4: Expansion and Reform (1801-1861)
NSS-USH.5-12.5 Era 5: Civil War and Reconstruction (1850-1877)
NSS-USH.5-12.6 Era 6: The Development of the Industrial United States (1870-1900)
NSS-USH.5-12.7 Era 7: The Emergence of Modern America (1890-1930)
NSS-USH.5-12.8 Era 8: The Great Depression and World War II (1929-1945)
NSS-USH.5-12.9 Era 9: Postwar United States (1945 to early 1970s)
NSS-USH.5-12.10 Era 10: Contemporary United States (1968 to the Present)

GRADES 5 - 12
NSS-WH.5-12.1 The Beginnings of Human Society
NSS-WH.5-12.2 Early Civilizations and the Rise of Pastoral Peoples
NSS-WH.5-12.3 Classical Traditions, Major Religions, and Giant Empires
NSS-WH.5-12.4 Expanding Zones of Exchange and Encounter
NSS-WH.5-12.5 Intensified Hemispheric Interactions, 1000-1500 CE
NSS-WH.5-12.6 Global Expansion and Encounter, 1450-1770
NSS-WH.5-12.7 An Age of Revolutions, 1750-1914
NSS-WH.5-12.8 The 20th Century

NT.K-12.1 Basic Operations and Concepts
NT.K-12.2 Social, Ethical, and Human Issues
NT.K-12.3 Technology Productivity tools
NT.K-12.4 Technology Communications tools
NT.K-12.5 Technology Research tools
NT.K-12.6 Technology Problem-Solving and Decision-Making tools


Sign up for our FREE Newsletters!

Thank you for subscribing to the newsletter!