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THE STUDENT DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

American History/Social Studies

UNIT: American Revolution

LEARNING TARGETS



  • Students will know that the Declaration of Independence has three main parts: A preamble identifying rights of the people and responsibilities of the government, a list of grievances, and a formal declaration of independence from the authoritative body.

  • Students will understand that the ideals set forth by the Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are still alive within contemporary American government.

  • Students will demonstrate interpersonal and small-group skills by working cooperatively on the creation of their own Declaration of Independence.

Initiation/Opening

  • Hook

    • Often, governments are looked at as huge, unchangeable, and permanent structures in societies. As we read through & listen to the Declaration of Independence, we will see that this is not always the case. When the will of the people is continually ignored, the people have the duty to overthrow that oppressive government. As students in public school, do you ever feel oppressed and ignored? (Ask for volunteers to share)

  • Context

    • Now remember back to the previous lesson about all of the abuses that the British government committed against the colonists. (Ask for volunteers to recap Boston Tea Party and Intolerable Acts).

  • Today we are going to participate in a “time warp lesson” – We will be writing our own Declarations of Independence and drawing upon the original document for inspiration and guidance. You may want independence from work, your parents, school, your brothers or sisters, pop music, fashion clothes, bad summer movies, your friends, or a bad habit; the list is endless. Find your despotic dictator and write your declaration against him, her, or it. 

  • First, you will be split up into four groups. Each group will be given a section of the declaration of independence to become “experts” on. These groups will fill out worksheets that: 1) state what their section is 2) Summarize its purpose 3) provide a quote from the declaration itself as an example of this purpose. 4) connect it to the present with a contemporary example that applies to your own life!

  • Second, each group member will split off into new groups of four members each – one “expert” from each section. They will share their expertise with each other on the document itself and their contemporary examples.

  • Next, these new groups of four will work together to create a “student declaration of independence” modeled after the original document. These declarations MUST include all of the parts of the original and use some of the same language. They will use the worksheet provided to draft out their idea and present it to the teacher for approval

  • Next, once declarations are approved, groups will work together to create a final draft poster of their declarations that will hang in the hallway. Students will have the opportunity to read their Declarations and present their work to the class.

  • Purpose

    • Often, governments are looked at as huge, unchangeable, and permanent structures in societies. As we read through & listen to the Declaration of Independence, we will see that this is not always the case. When the will of the people is continually ignored, the people have the duty to overthrow that oppressive government. As students in public school, do you ever feel oppressed and ignored? Now is your chance to be heard!

Time

3 min


10 min

3 min


2 min

=15min


Teacher’s Activities

  • Teacher will divide the whiteboard into two halves, writing “1776” on one half and “2011” on the other.

  • Teacher will draw 4 bullets on the board with “preamble, rights, grievances, declaration.”

  • Teacher will assign 4 groups and a subject to each group,, handing out worksheets.

  • Teacher will split the groups into many groups of 4 in a ”jigsaw” activity where the group “experts” will share their knowledge with each other

  • Teacher will reconvene class to a whole class setting and have representatives from each group share information that they learned about each section of the declaration of independence with the class. The teacher will write this information on the board for “1776” and then ask for contemporary examples that the students can draw upon for ideas when they come up with their own ideas.

  • Teacher will share an example of a student declaration of independence to prompt creativity and release students to work in groups to decide who they want to declare their independence from, what their rights are, what the responsibility of the authoritative person/people are, how the body has failed to fulfill their responsibility/provide for students’ rights, and a formal declaration of independence from said body including how the students’ intend to defend that declaration.

  • As groups finish their drafts, teacher will go around to each group and offer advice, listen to ideas and encourage members to participate to ensure that everyone is having their voice heard. Teacher will also sign off on drafts as groups finish and provide materials for a “final draft” poster.

  • When students complete their final drafts, teacher will have students sign their documents with a real feather quill (for fun!) and if time, present their declarations to their classmates.

Time

95min



Closure

  • Re-state the importance of the responsibility of governments to provide for their citizens and how it is the duty of the people to revolt against the government if they fail to meet their burdens.

  • Remind students of 4 sections of the declaration and trim them to “what’s this about? Rights, wrongs, I’m on my own!” as a clever way of trying to remember the sections. Have students repeat this several times as a group to drill it into their heads. Connect the work they just did in creating their own student declarations to the original document with each section so that it further reinforces the idea.

Time

10 min


Materials:

  1. Worksheets (attached)

  2. Whiteboard/markers

  3. Declaration of independence video

  4. Quill & Ink (if available for fun)

  5. “Antiqued” posters (enough for each group) (or you can have the students antique the posters by smearing moistened tea bags on the boards and tearing the edges).

  6. Example of a Student declaration of Independence



Section__Summary__Example_Quotation__The_Preamble'>Section

Summary

Example Quotation

The Preamble 

The introduction  that tells the purpose of the document and why it was written.

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another... a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

The statement of the natural rights of humankind 

The basic ideals of American democracy of equality, autonomy, and the social contract as stated by John Locke.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness... That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it...

The grievances against the King 

The list of abuses committed by King George from the Proclamation of 1763 to the passage of the Intolerable Acts. 

   For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us: 
   For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States: 
   For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world: 
   For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent: 
   For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury: 
   For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

The announcement of Independence

Notification to the world that the former British colonies are free and independent states and are to be treated as equal nations of the world.

We... solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are... Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved.

Name________________________________________________________________ Date __________________

Section

Summary

Example Quotation

Student Example

The Preamble










The statement of the natural rights of humankind










The grievances against the King










Announcement of Independence










Name________________________________________________________________ Date __________________

When the will of the people is continually ignored, the people have the duty to overthrow that oppressive government. As students in public school, do you ever feel oppressed and ignored? If so, now is your time. Much like Thomas Jefferson did, you will be creating your own declaration of independence, the students’ declaration of independence. This document will have four parts. In the first part, you will explain what the purpose of the document is. In the second part, you will explain what rights you have as students. In the third part, you will list your grievances. What are some of the things done at this school that you feel violate your rights as a student? In the last section, you will officially declare your independence from your oppressor.

Part I. Preamble (ex: why am I writing this document? what should a public school should be?)

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________


Part II. Statement of rights (ex: what are my rights as a student? Ex: right to quality books, study time, etc).

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________
Part III. List of Grievances (how has the school failed to be what it should?)

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________
Part IV. The Students Declaration of Independence (ex: declare independence & how I will defend it!)

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

The Unanimous Declaration of the

Students of Ms. Esbenshade’s Classroom (example)


When, in the course of human events, it becomes Necessary for a group of students to rebel against their school, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all students are created equal; that kids are endowed by their schedule, guidance counselor, and personal needs as growing teenagers with certain unalienable Rights that among these are sleep, laziness and the lack of a history final.

That to secure these rights, classes are instituted among students, that whenever any form of teaching becomes destructive to these ends, it is the Right of the Students to alter or to END it.

When a long train of abuses and usurpations occurs, it is the right and duty of the students to throw off such a policy-- Such has been the patient sufferance of these students. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

She has denied us candy in the classroom, which would undeniably raise the morale of students.

She has deprived students of the right to rest in peace, and dream about freedom in class.

She has issued cruel and unusual punishment when assigning worksheets and homework assignments that have caused students to stress out and not enjoy their weekends.

We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends. 

We, the representatives of the students of Ms. Esbenshade’s classroom, therefore declare our independence from our School.

~~~


Signed:

Actual Declaration of Independence

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

hen in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/images/w.gif

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by 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, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

John Hancock, New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton, Massachusetts:


John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry, Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery, Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott. New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris, New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark, Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross, Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean, Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton, North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn, South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton, Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

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