CBC Digital Archives

Lesson Plan: For Teachers: Timeline for a Wrongful Conviction

History, English Language Arts
1 to 2 lessons
To summarize a series of events in a timeline
Students will work in small groups to create a timeline tracking the significant events in the wrongful conviction of David Milgaard.

Lesson Plan

Before Exploring

Ask students what their future plans are. What do they hope to accomplish immediately and in the next 1, 2, 5, 10, and 20 years? Have students record their thoughts in writing and then share their responses with a partner. Ask students how they would feel if this time was taken from them right now and they were jailed for 23 years. What opportunities would they miss? Those who wish to can share their responses. Compile a class list of missed opportunities.

Outline the Opportunity


Direct students to the topic The Wrongful Conviction of David Milgaard on the CBC Digital Archives website. In small groups, have students view the clips "Who killed Gail Miller?", "No new trial for Milgaard", "Justice Department orders review of Milgaard case", "Supreme court orders a new trial" and DNA test clears Milgaard".   


Provide students with the download sheet Timeline for a Wrongful Conviction and have them record significant dates and events. Students should consider the following:


When did the murder of Gail Miller occur?

When was David Milgaard convicted?

When did the justice minister turn down the request to hear Milgaard's case?

When was Milgaard released from prison?

When did DNA tests clear Milgaard?

When was Milgaard finally released from jail?

What did Milgaard receive as a compensation package?

Using the information gathered, students plot the significant events on a timeline.

Assessment Tip

Check to be sure that students summarize the significant events clearly.

Revisit and Reflect


Have each group present its timeline to the class. As a class, discuss which events are most significant and why. Compare the group timelines. Are all significant events recorded on each group's timeline? Have students add any significant information they may be missing.


Students can assume the role of David Milgaard upon his release from prison. Write a journal entry highlighting the missed opportunities of the previous 23 years.

Download PDF

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