8th grade lesson: Creating a Nation – The Declaration of Independence and the U. S. Constitution Developed by



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Teaching American History for All

Mt. Diablo Unified/UC Berkeley History Social Science Project

8th grade lesson: Creating a Nation – The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution
Developed by: Danae Tywoniak and Kathy Collins
Teaching American History Grant Focus Question:

How did the problems with the Articles of Confederation force the early American leaders to write the US Constitution, and what issues between the states ensured the protection of individual rights?


8th Grade Yearlong Question:

How did Americans change from being colonial subjects to American citizens?


Unit Focus:

UNIT 2: Our Colonial Heritage

CH 2: The American Revolution


Unit Focus Question:

How did early Americans create a strong effective government that balanced national needs with the demand for individual rights?


Unit Working Thesis:

The weakness of the national government created under the Articles of Confederation led some Americans to believe that it failed to protect the ideas of liberty that were outlined in the Declaration of Independence. The Constitution, on the other hand, provides a framework for governing the United States and the Bill of Rights guarantee basic rights of all citizens.


Lesson Focus Question:

How did the Declaration of Independence justify the colonists from breaking away from England?

How did the Declaration of Independence provide

How did Thomas Jefferson state in the Declaration of Independence that the colonies had the right to break away from King George III?
Lesson Working Thesis:

In the Declaration of Independence, the American colonists justified breaking away from England by declaring that all men are granted certain rights and that the people have the right and duty to overthrow the government and change the system if the government violates their rights.


Reading Strategies:

  1. Deconstructing sentences

  2. Keep It or Junk It

  3. Identifying historical concepts and key words from a body of reading


Writing Strategies:

  1. Basic Paragraph Outline- no sentence starters

  2. Summative paragraph


Suggested Amount of Time:

Two (50 minute) class periods.



Textbook:

United States History Independence to 1944. Orlando, Florida: Holt, Rinehart and Winston Publishers, 2006, Unit 2, Chapter 2, Lesson 2, pages 84, 86-87

Context of the Lesson:

The students will build up to the summarizing paragraph with each reading and writing strategy that they complete during the two day lesson. It is important that the students use the completed Sentence Deconstruction activity and the categorized information from the Keep It or Junk It activity when framing their writing outline.



Teacher Procedure:
1. Reading Strategy #1: “Declaration of Independence” excerpt and Sentence Deconstruction Chart

  • Pass out “Declaration of Independence” excerpt

  • Pass out Sentence Deconstruction Chart

  • Read the text: Teacher guided choral reading.

  • Teacher completes sentence deconstruction chart with students (Teacher can clarify the chart headings, discuss implied subjects, vocabulary definitions, etc).

  • When chart is complete, teacher guides students to look at the verbs to answer the question at the bottom of the worksheet.

2. Reading Strategy #2: “Declaration of Independence” text and Keep It or Junk It chart



  • Teacher assigns four students per group

  • Pass out “Declaration of Independence” reading

  • Students read the text individually while in groups

  • While reading, students circle important terms, people and concepts in the reading

  • Teacher introduces chart to students and assigns students the task of listing the circled words on the chart

  • Students fill in their charts with their groups members

  • In their group, students then categorize their words while looking for common themes

  • Students identify two possible headings for each paragraph in the “Declaration of Independence” reading

  • Each group may send one representative around to other groups to share categories and headings

  • One representative from each group presents the headings to the class

  • Students write their final headings on the blank line on the “Declaration of Independence” worksheet

3. Writing Strategy #1: Writing Prompt Outline



  • Pass out the “Declaration of Independence” paragraph outline

  • Students may use their notes from the “Declaration of Independence” reading and Keep It or Junk It activity to construct their paragraph outline

4. Writing Strategy #2: Declaration of Independence Writing Prompt



  • Instruct students to take out prior work: Sentence Deconstruction Chart, Declaration of Independence reading, Keep It or Junk It Chart, and Paragraph Outline.

  • Pass out writing prompt assignment

  • Teacher scaffolds writing assignment to show students how they will write the essay by using all the work they have already completed. Teacher explains how the paragraphs will be organized by utilizing prior work.


Historical and Social Science Content Standards:

8.1.2 Students will analyze the philosophy of government expressed in the Declaration of Independence, with an emphasis on government as a means of securing individual rights (e.g. key phrases such as “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”).

Historical and Social Sciences Analytical Skills:

 

Research, Evidence, and Point of View



      • Students distinguish relevant from irrelevant information, essential from incidental information, and verifiable from unverifiable information in historical narratives and stories.

      • Students assess the credibility of primary and secondary sources and draw sound conclusions from them.

      • Students detect the different historical points of view on historical events and determine the context in which the historical statements were made (the questions asked, sources used, author's perspectives).

Historical Interpretation

      • Students explain the central issues and problems from the past, placing people and events in a matrix of time and place.

      • Students understand and distinguish cause, effect, sequence, and correlation in historical events, including the long-and short-term causal relations.

      • Students explain the sources of historical continuity and how the combination of ideas and events explains the emergence of new patterns.

  

Common Core English Language Arts Standards:
Reading Informational Text – Grade 8

Key Ideas and Details

1.Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.

2. Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.

3. Identify key steps in a text’s description of a process related to history/social studies (e.g., how a bill becomes law)


Writing – Grade 8

Text Types and Purposes

  1. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.

    1. Introduce a topic clearly, previewing what is to follow; organize ideas, concepts, and information, using strategies such as definition, classification, comparison/contrast, and cause/effect; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., charts, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.

    2. Develop the topic with relevant facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples.

    3. Use appropriate transitions to create cohesion and clarify the relationships among ideas and concepts.

    4. Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.

    5. Establish and maintain a formal style.

    6. Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the information or explanation presented.


Reading Strategy #1

NAME_______________________________________________

Instructions: Read the following excerpt and circle the verbs/verb phrases. Read the comprehension question, but do not write your answer yet.




We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed buy their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government,…

From the Declaration of Independence, 1776





Question: How did the Declaration of Independence justify the colonists from breaking away from England?

Reading Strategy #2

NAME_______________________________________________
The Declaration of Independence
Directions: Read the passage below and highlight key words related to the focus question.
Heading:____________________________________________________
In 1776 a committee was created to write a document declaring the colonies’ independence. The committee members were John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert R. Livingston, and Roger Sherman. Jefferson was the document’s main author.
The Declaration of Independence formally announced the colonies’ break from Great Britain. In doing so, it expressed three main ideas. The first idea Jefferson argued was that all men possess unalienable rights. He stated that these basic rights include “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.

Heading:_____________________________________________________
Jefferson’s next argument was that King George III had violated the colonists’ rights by passing unfair laws and interfering with colonial governments. Jefferson accused the king of taxing colonists without their consent and he felt that the large British army in the colonies violated colonists’ rights.
Third, Jefferson argued that the colonies had the right to break from Britain. He was influenced by the Enlightenment idea of the social contract, which states that governments and rulers must protect the rights of citizens. In exchange, the people agree to be governed. Jefferson said that because King George III had broken the social contract, the colonists should no longer obey him.

Text: Holt, Rinehart & Winston United States History – Independence to 1914.



Reading Strategy #2

NAME_______________________________________________

Keep or Junk It

Directions: List the identified key words in the chart below. Using your list, create headings that apply to the reading.





List key words


Create two possible headings for each paragraph


Part 1







Part 2







Reading Strategy #2

TEACHER KEY

Keep or Junk It

Directions: List the identified key words in the chart below. Using your list, create headings that apply to the reading.




List key words


Create two possible headings for each paragraph


Part 1

independence

document

Declaration of Independence

Liberty

Life


Pursuit of happiness

Basic rights

ideas

unalienable



argued

Jefferson

break

author


colonies





  • Reasons for Breaking Away



  • Philosophy of Government

Part 2

argument


King George III

Enlightenment

Violated rights

argument


Basic rights

Citizens


Unfair laws

Basic human rights

taxation

British Army

Social contract

No longer obey







  • Violation of Colonists Rights



  • Enlightenment Ideas


Writing Strategy #1

NAME_______________________________________________
Declaration of Independence

PARAGRAPH FRAME/OUTLINE


How did Thomas Jefferson state in the Declaration of Independence that the colonies had the right to break away from King George III?
Thesis Statement: __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Evidence: __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Spec. Evidence: __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Evidence: __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Spec. Evidence: __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Analysis: __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Concluding statement:

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Writing Strategy #2

NAME_______________________________________________
Declaration of Independence

Writing Prompt

Background: In 1776, after fighting with Great Britain for more than a year, a committee was created to formally draft a document announcing that the colonies were seeking to form their own independent government. Thomas Jefferson wrote the document and used as his arguments the fact that men had basic human rights, King George had violated these rights, and that as a result, the colonists could separate from Great Britain.

Question:

  • How did Thomas Jefferson state in the Declaration of Independence that the colonies had the right to break away from King George III?


Expectations:

  • In a multi paragraph essay, respond to the question. Analyze the reasons given in the Declaration of Independence, making sure to address the sources from which these reasons were taken. Include a thesis statement, supporting evidence and a conclusion.


Writing Strategy #2

NAME_______________________________________________

TEACHER KEY

Declaration of Independence

Writing Prompt

Question: How did Thomas Jefferson state in the Declaration of Independence that the colonies had the right to break away from King George III?
Thesis: In the Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson asserts that men have unalienable rights and because King George III had violated these rights, the colonists had the right to separate from Great Britain and form their own government.

Main Points:

  • Natural Law

  • Human Rights

  • Unfair Laws

  • Taxation

  • British Army in the colonies

  • Broken social contract

  • Enlightenment ideas




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