Students will understand the following:
For this lesson, you will need:
Adaptations for Older Students:
Challenge students to find reproduced letters to the editor published in the colonies and in England in 1780. They should analyze those letters before starting their own letters.
You can evaluate students' letters using the following three-point rubric:
Three points: clearly states a timely position; offers significant support for the position; articulately acknowledges but undercuts opposing views; ends with a call for action if appropriate; error-free writing
Two points: adequately states a timely position; offers some support for the position; insufficiently acknowledges or insufficiently undercuts opposing views; ends with a call for action if appropriate; some errors in writing
One point: position not adequately stated; does not include sufficient support for the position; does not acknowledge and deal with opposing views; omits necessary call for action; many errors in writing
You can have students contribute to the assessment rubric by determining a minimum number of pieces of support for the position.
Make available to students a map that shows each side's position in 1780. If such a map is not available, use any 18th-century map; with help from students, mark each side's position with pushpins. Use red pushpins for the British positions and blue for the American. Then challenge students to take the role of a British general. What locations would the general target for his next attack? Why?
Some sources present British Lieutenant Banastre Tarleton as a leader who killed surrendering American soldiers instead of taking them prisoner; other sources do not make this point. Similarly, some sources blame American General Horatio Gates for abandoning his men in the middle of battle at Camden, South Carolina; other sources are not as outspoken about Gates. Discuss with students the importance of always being a critical reader of history rather than automatically trusting an author to be complete and unbiased in reporting history. Move on to contemplate what a reader should do when coming across conflicting accounts.
The Spirit of '76: the Story of the American Revolution as Told by Participants
Henry Steele Commager and Richard B. Morris, editors, Da Capo Press, 1995
An excellent complement to the segment's themes of how the Revolution affected families at home, as well as the bloody nature of the battles. This work reinforces the importance of oral history in history studies.
The Littlest Vaquero: Texas' First Cowboys and How They Helped Win the American Revolution
Maurine Liles, Eakin Press, 1996
Younger (middle school) readers will enjoy a fictionalized account of an early cowboy's involvement in the Revolution. Book Review Digest 's summary says: "Relates the story of a young vaquero (the first Texas cowboy) on a cattle drive to supply Longhorn cattle to troops in Louisiana fighting the American Revolution."
Finishing Becca: A Story about Peggy Shippen and Benedict Arnold
Ann Rinaldi, Harcourt Brace, 1994
This fictionalized work in the publisher's "American Colonies" series is summarized by the Indiana University Library Catalog this way: "14-year-old Becca takes a position as a maid in a wealthy Philadelphia Quaker home and witnesses the events that lead to General Benedict Arnold's betrayal of the American forces during the Revolutionary War."
Black History: NH's "Colored Patriots" of the Revolution; Women's History: NH Women in the Revolution
In 1855, William H. Nell wrote a book recognizing the role of African-Americans during the American Revolution. This site offers excerpts and information from that book Colored Patriots of the Revolution . A separate page offers information about women.
The Role of Women in American History: Early America
Begin with African-American poet Phillis Wheatley, and proceed with Betsy Ross, Abigail Adams, and Molly Pitcher. Learn how women in New York actually lost the vote, then use the links to ask experts questions about it.
Colonial Williamsburg's Almanack
Meet the people of the 18th century through the "almanack" at Colonial Williamsburg. Learn about family life, manners, the military, politics, and what life was like for African-Americans.
This project features discussions, descriptions, and images of the coins, tokens, and paper money used in colonial America. There is even information about colonial lottery tickets.
The Charleston Multimedia Project
Get information about the history of Charleston during the Revolutionary War. The site features a time line plus information about the first naval battle of the American Revolution.
Click on any of the vocabulary words below to hear them pronounced and used in a sentence.
Context: Some Americans were benefiting from the war. Profiteering was rampant. Benedict Arnold was accused of closing down rival shops, forcing people to buy his goods.
Context: Most Americans believed the wrong man had been executed, that Andre had paid with his life for Arnold's treason.
Context: American loyalists assured the Crown that unlike troublesome New England, the South was teeming with subjects ready to take up arms for the king.
Context: On May 9th, a furious cannonade would erupt between the two armies. Mortar shells crossed and exploded long into the night.
Context: On May 29th, Lieutenant Colonel Tarleton and his men caught Colonel Abraham Buford's column of 300 Virginians on flat ground with no cover.
Context: Within minutes, 2,500 men, four-fifths of the American army, ran away. Only one militia regiment and Dekalb's Maryland and Delaware veterans stayed on the field.
Context: The greatest threat to the British supply lines came from bands of guerilla fighters called partisans .
This lesson plan may be used to address the academic standards listed below. These standards are drawn from Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education: 2nd Edition and have been provided courtesy of theMid-continent Research for Education and Learningin Aurora, Colorado.
Grade level: 6-8
Subject area: economics
Understands that scarcity of productive resources requires choices that generate opportunity costs.
Understands that scarcity of resources necessitates choice at both the personal and the societal levels.
Grade level: 6-8
Subject area: geography
Understands how physical systems affect human systems.
Knows the ways in which human systems develop in response to conditions in the physical environment (e.g., patterns of land use, economic livelihoods, architectural styles of buildings, building materials, flows of traffic, recreation activities).
Knows the ways people take aspects of the environment into account when deciding on locations for human activities (e.g., early American industrial development along streams and rivers at the fall line to take advantage of water-generated power).
Understands the strategic elements of the Revolutionary War (e.g., how the Americans won the war against superior British resources, American and British military leaders, major military campaigns).
Understands the social, political, and religious aspects of the American Revolution (e.g., decisions leading to crisis of revolution; efforts by Parliament and colonies to prevent revolution; ideas of different religions; economic and social differences of loyalists, patriots, and neutrals).
Understands the major political and strategic factors that led to the American victory in the Revolutionary War (e.g., the importance of the Battle of Saratoga, the use of guerilla and conventional warfare, the importance of King's Mountain in defining the war).
Understands the social and economic impact of the Revolutionary War (e.g., problems of financing the war, wartime inflation, hoarding, and profiteering; personal impact and economic hardship on families involved in the war).
Understands contributions of European nations during the American Revolution and how their involvement influenced the outcome and aftermath (e.g., the assistance of France and Spain in the war, how self-interests of France and Spain differed from those of the United States after the war, the effect of American diplomatic initiatives and the contributions of the European military leaders on the outcome of the war).
Kirsten Rooks, social studies and English teacher, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
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