Grade Level: Grade Five Lesson 1 Unit of Study

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Lesson Title:

Independence: The Final Decision

(This lesson, while not directly connected to César Chávez, sets up the grade five lessons to follow.)
Grade Level:

Grade Five Lesson 1

Unit of Study:

U.S. History: The Fight for Freedom

History-Social Science Standard:

5.5 Students explain the causes of the American Revolution

Correlation to K-8 California Adopted Textbooks:

Harcourt Brace. Early United States. Unit 4: The American Revolution. Chapter 7: Differences Divide Britain and its Colonies.

McGraw-Hill: A New Nation. Unit 5: The Fight for Independence. Chapter 13: The American Revolution.
Setting of Context:

Students should have studied the 13 colonies and have an understanding of the tensions that were building as the colonists became more disgruntled with the mother country. They should have studied the causes and outcomes of the French and Indian War.

The British were victorious in the French and Indian War. The colonists no longer felt threatened by the French and many wanted to explore the territory west of the Mississippi. The war left Great Britain with many debts, and felt that the colonists should help to pay for these debts. The British government began to charge the colonists taxes to help get back the money that was spent during the war. The Americans were not happy with these new taxes like The Stamp Act that required that they pay a tax on things like newspapers and other documents. The Americans rebelled against the new taxes and felt they were unfair because they did not help make the law. The British made these laws in a place called Parliament where leaders met to make the laws. These leaders did not include any Americans and they felt that because they were not represented, the laws were unfair.
The British passed more laws like the Tea Tax that forced Americans to pay a tax on the tea that they drank. This made the colonists very angry. They no longer wanted to be ruled by Great Britain. They decided that it was time to take action.
Focus Questions:

What are the events that led colonists to seek liberty from Great Britain?

Were these events justified on the colonist's side?
Did Americans have good reasons to break away from Britain and declare independence?
Expected Learning Outcomes:

Students will be able to identify the major causes leading up to the revolutionary war

Students will be able to identify the reasons that this struggle was inevitable

Students will be to engage in a debate presenting the colonists perspective and the British perspective


Graphic organizer that outlines British action and colonial response

Points of debate
Journal entry: What would I have done if I lived in 1776? Would I have fought for freedom?
T-chart on pros and cons of fighting against Great Britain
Key Concepts:

Revolution and Change

Essential Vocabulary:



taxation without representation



Primary Sources:

Documents of taxes and levies, stamps for The Stamp Act of 1775.


Paintings of the colonist's rebellion: Boston Tea Party, political cartoons or other propaganda depicting the colonists’ dissatisfaction or Britain's ridicule of the colonists.


Making Connections:

Imagine that it is 1776 and you are an American in the British colonies. You are not happy with the British government that rules you. You do not like the laws that you are being forced to obey. You feel that the taxes that are being levied upon you are unfair. You become so angry that you decide to fight for your freedom.

What would you have done if you had lived in 1776? Would you fight for America to become a free country?
Vocabulary Activities:

Vocabulary hunt: Students will use list of vocabulary words (see above) and hunt for definitions as they scroll through a list that summarizes the events that led up to the Declaration of Independence. This should include the rivalry between France and Great Britain, the French and Indian War, Britain’s levying of taxes to pay for the war, The Stamp Act of 1765, the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party. The vocabulary words will be buttons that will take them to a card with a glossary of terms.



Teacher walks in and announces a new class rule. She/he states that each time a student moves, without permission, the class will lose one minute of recess. The teacher begins to enact the new rule and logs on the board the number of recess minutes lost.

After a few minutes of the new rule, the teacher stops and asks the students how they feel about the new rule. Allow for a discussion. Most students will probably feel that the rule is unfair. After discussion chart the students reasons as to why the rule is unfair.
Guided Instruction:

Part I: The Effects of British Taxation:

The class will be divided in half. One class will play the role of colonists. The other half will play the role of Great Britain. Each group will be given an activity card that will have the event they are to dramatize. The cards will have the following terms:

The Sugar Act

The Stamp Act

The Quartering Act

The Townshend Duties

The students will use their textbooks, other research materials and the Internet to get more information on their term/event. They will then prepare a short presentation that defines or illustrates their term. These will be presented to the class and as it is presented, the groups watching should take notes on the major points illustrated.
Practice/Assessment Opportunity:

Use the information gathered to complete the graphic organizer on the effects of British taxation:

The Effects of British Taxation





Sugar Act

Stamp Act

Quartering Act

Townshend Duties

Part II: Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Students will choose a point of view: British or Colonist and prepare a debate outlining three reasons for their point of view. The teacher will award "telling points" for information presented correctly. The side with the most telling points wins.
Practice/Assessment Opportunity:

The students will be given a character, merchant, farmer, laborer, apprentice, shopkeeper, professional, slave, indentured servant. They will create a Pro and Con chart based on their character outlining their reasons for wanting independence or for remaining loyal to Britain.

Students can create a web page that outlines what they have learned. New information will be added as they acquire more knowledge and progress through the remaining lessons.
Service Learninq:

Identify the Problem: Every community has some type of taxes placed upon the people. These may range from sales tax to property taxes. Most people complain about taxes. Why? Find out what kind of taxes there are in the community and how people feel about the taxes.
Possible Solution: Find out what kind of taxes there are in the community and how people feel about the taxes. Establish where to find the information on taxes in your community (probably through local government). Develop a survey of people on how they feel about taxes and whether they know what the money is used for?
Plan of Action: Conduct the research and the survey. Tabulate the results as a class and make charts reflecting the data.
Reflection: Students should discuss the results of their survey and try and speculate why people responded the way they did. The class may want to share their results with the administration or someone from local government.

Have the students research on the net what films have been made about the Revolutionary War. Have they seen any of these films? Lead a discussion on whether films usually portray an accurate view of history. is an excellent resource.

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