Common Sense, by Thomas Paine (1310 lexile)

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Documents for Review:

Note: This activity would be taught following instruction centered around the historical period. Students would have prior knowledge of the Constitutional Convention and writings from the period.

This activity addresses the following Common Core Anchor Standards:

Standard 1: Cite textual evidence to support analysis of primary & secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.

Standard 6: Evaluate authors’ differing points of view on the same historical event or issue by assessing the authors’ claims, reasoning, and evidence.

Standard 7: Integrate & evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats & media in order to address a question or solve a problem.

Standard 9: Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary & secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.


Read the excerpt from Common Sense. Pay close attention to textual features and how words or phrases may indicate the author’s purpose. Outline the arguments/claims that he makes. Then, go back and re-read the piece. While re-reading, underline key terms and phrases that would serve as evidence of the intended audience. Also, look for evidence of who the audience is not.


Review the painting by Christy. Pay close attention to and make note of the artistic features of the painting, as well as the depictions of the actual historic events that took place at the Constitutional Convention.


How does perspective influence an artist’s creation? Cite textual evidence from both documents.

Evidence from: Common Sense, by Thomas Paine

Evidence from: Scene At The Signing Of The Constitution Of The United States, by Howard Chandler Christy


Which piece best represents the historical period?

Who are the unintended or secondary audiences of these pieces?

Engage the students in a tableau in which each student represents one of the founding fathers who were and were not included in the painting.

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