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LESSON / UNIT TITLE: Political Parties

Teacher Name(s): Craig Dawsey, Laurel Kapson, Lyle Wesneski

School District: Towanda Area School District, Troy Area School District

Building: Towanda Jr. /Sr. High School / Troy High School

Grade Level: 7th & 8th

Subject: Political Parties

Time Required: 3-4 forty minute class periods

Lesson/Unit Summary: Students will spend approximately three to four days examining the political parties. When George Washington became president there were no political parties. In fact, most Americans disliked the idea of political parties. Early on political parties became evident when people began to have political disagreements.

Essential Questions for Lesson/Unit

How and why did political parties begin in the United States of America?

Pennsylvania Academic Standards Addressed in Lesson/Unit

8.3.9. A. Identify and analyze the political and cultural contributions of individuals

and groups to United States history from 1787 to 1914.

8.3.9. B. Identify and analyze primary documents, material artifacts and historic sites important in United States history from 1787 to 1914.
5.3.9 E. Explain how citizens participate in choosing their leaders through political parties, campaigns and elections.

Lesson/Unit Objectives

  1. Students will explain why Americans distrusted the idea of political parties.

  1. Students will contrast views of Hamilton and Jefferson.

  1. Students will discuss how political parties were developed.

  1. Students will describe how election of 1796 increased political tensions.

Vocabulary/Key Terms for Lesson/Unit




Historical Background for Teachers / Research Narrative

Political Parties

Out of the ideological differences between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton arose the nation’s first opposition party. Each promoted polices that benefited his respective regions of the country. Hamilton’s proposals were meant to encourage the manufacturing beginning in the northeast while Jefferson’s ideology sought to protect the agrarian southern economy.

One could argue that the roots of the American Civil War began at this time and not with the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860. The lines were drawn by these two men nearly 70 years before the first shots rang out at Fort Sumter. These two men created hostility within this country’s border that would endure until the 1860’s and some say beyond that time as well. Most Americans sided with either Jefferson or Hamilton and thus ultimately sealed our fate in 1861.

Instructional Prodedures and Activities

  1. Introduce Political Parties topic.

  1. Have students take Political Parties pretest (Short answer).

  1. Facilitate student research of the political views of Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton.

  1. Create a chart comparing how Jefferson and Hamilton differed in background, personality, and political views (Position statement with reasons and facts).

  1. Have students work in collaborative pairs and complete a Venn diagram comparing the similarities between the two men.

  1. Have students draft editorials for both men by splitting the class in half. (One side for Jefferson and the other for Hamilton).

  1. Have students’ debate editorials created by either side. Use editorials as a spring board as to why and how political parties developed.

  1. Create a “Senate” in the room and have students vote on “hot’ topics of today (examples: abortion, gay marriage, prayer in school).

  1. Have students choose between Jefferson’s and Hamilton’s view and write a speech of support of one of the views.

  1. Administer Political Parties post-test to students.

Suggested Strategies for Differentiating Instruction

  • Modify/reduce assignments

  • Study Guides

Assessment of Student Learning (Formative and Summative)


  • Analysis of short answer pre-test results

  • Observation of student research

  • Completion of graphic organizer: Position Statement with reasons and facts

  • Observation of discussion: collaborative pairs

  • Completion of Venn Diagram

  • Assessment of editorials

  • Observation of debate responses


  • Assessment of written persuasive essay/speech supporting views of Hamilton or Jefferson

  • Political parties post-test; compare results to pre-test

Materials and Resources

Textbook: The American Nation, Prentice Hall

Short answer tests

Graphic organizers

Author(s) of Unit/Lesson Plan

Craig Dawsey, Laurie Kapson, Towanda Area School District, Towanda Junior-Senior High School

Lyle Wesneski, Troy Area School District, Troy Middle School

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