Title: The Articles of Confederation

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Backward Design Plan

March 2016

Course/Grade level: US History (9-12)

Title: The Articles of Confederation

NOTE: This is an example – in order to fully meet the rigor of the performance expectations/standards teachers will need to insert additional instruction, resources, and activities. This plan can be downloaded and edited to meet teacher, school, and district needs and align to local curriculum.

Step 1 – Desired Results

Established Learning Goals:

Standards, benchmarks, other learning goals/objectives

Social Studies


2.1 Origins of American Constitutional Government

Demonstration of understanding and communication of comparisons among items that have measurable attributes in common (i.e., shorter, taller, longer, smaller, larger, more of, less of, heavier, lighter, etc.)

2.2 Foundational Values and Constitutional Principles of American Government

Explain how the American idea of constitutional government has shaped a distinctive American society through the investigation of such questions as: How have the fundamental values and principles of American constitutional government shaped American society?


Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.


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


Students will understand…

  • Why we need rules and laws.

  • How the Articles of Confederation represent tensions between the states and federal government.

  • How some efforts at creating laws failed.

  • Why the Constitution became necessary.

Students will know…

  • Why the Articles of Confederation failed.

  • How the United States Constitution originated.

Compelling Questions:

  • Why do we need rules and laws in our society?

Supporting Questions:

  • What attempts were made to provide laws for our country?

  • Which ones failed?

  • Why did they fail?

  • How did we correct these failures?

Students will be able to…

  • Identify the need for rules and laws.

  • Explain the weakness of the Articles of Confederation.

  • Explain the need for a United States Constitution.

Step 2 – Assessment Evidence

Performance Task

What will students do to show what they have learned?

Students will identify and discuss the elements of the United States Constitution resulting from weaknesses is the Article of Confederation.

Other Evidence

How do you know that students have met the criteria?

Students will take a point of view and evaluate how those tensions were reduced based on that point of view.

Step 3 – Learning Plan

Learning Activities and Resources

  1. Identify the needs of a new government.

  2. Identify how those needs were addressed in the Articles of Confederation.

  3. Describe how the Articles were incomplete or a failure.

  4. Read the Constitution to see how the changes reduced tensions in the United States and solved the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation.

Additional Resources Related to this Lesson:

Find in Research in Context on MeL.org: Articles of Confederation

Find by searching the titles in MeL.org:

Homage to CLIO: The Historical Continuity from the Articles of Confederation into the Constitution [article]/ Johnson, Calvin H.

What are the Articles of Confederation? : and other questions about the birth of the United States / Laura Hamilton Waxman

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