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The Declaration's Purpose
Students will be able to explain the purpose of the Declaration of Independence.
- Write and circle the word “independence” on the board.
- Invite students to share what they know about the word. Record their answers on the board while creating a web graphic organizer.
- Explain to students that they will be learning about the purpose of the Declaration of Independence in today’s civics lesson.
- Display an image of the Declaration of Independence, and point out that it was a document that was written over 200 years ago and signified that the colonies were no longer a part of British rule.
Explicit Instruction/Teacher modeling(15 minutes)
- Explain to students that the purpose of today’s civics lesson is to learn about the purpose of the Declaration of Independence.
- Review that independence is freedom from outside control or support, and that was the goal of the colonists in the late 1700s. They wanted freedom from Britain’s rule. Share that civics is the study of the rights and duties of citizens and of how government works.
- Make the connection that the Declaration of Independence and the colonists’ efforts to break free from Britain’s rule are perfect examples of civics in action.
- Show the School House Rock – No More Kings video to review the events that led up to the Declaration of Independence.
- Review the most important parts from the video for students to remember in this lesson: The king was putting taxes on and making rules for the colonists. The colonists did not think that was fair and they fought back. The Revolutionary War was fought and won by the colonists.
- Read aloud a book about the Declaration of Independence, such as A Journey of the One and Only Declaration of Independence, stopping to point out important information about the purpose of the document.
Guided Practice(20 minutes)
- Divide students into five groups.
- Display the five posters labeled with a question in different areas around the room.
- Guide students through a Carousel Activity.
- Assign each group a starting question on which to focus and give each group a different color marker.
- Give the groups three minutes to discuss and jot down notes to answer the question.
- Have groups rotate to another question, discuss, and jot down notes in addition to the existing information on the poster.
- Allow groups to visit each question, if time allows.
- Ask students to return to their seats, and debrief each question as a class.
Independent working time(10 minutes)
- Hand out a piece of lined paper to each student. Instruct students to write a paragraph about the purpose of the Declaration of Independence.
- Encourage students to incorporate information from the video and to read aloud as they write a paragraph.
- Provide sentence stems for students as they write their paragraph about the purpose of the Declaration of Independence. ("The Declaration of Independence was written _____." "They wrote it because _____." "It is important because _____.")
- Supply students with a word bank to use as they write their paragraph about the purpose of the Declaration of Independence.
- Give example sentences about the Declaration of Independence to groups as they answer questions in the Carousel Activity.
- To support students who struggle with organizing information, provide them with a graphic organizer on which to jot notes during the Carousel Activity.
- Challenge advanced students to create a timeline of important events leading up to and surrounding the Declaration of Independence. Have them research the immediate and lasting effects of the Declaration of Independence to include as well.
- Give students the Preamble and have them work together to decipher its meaning.
- Have advanced students explain the definition of civics and evaluate whether the colonists were good citizens. Allow the students to create a presentation in the format of their choice.
- Let the students’ paragraphs about the purpose of the Declaration of Independence serve as an assessment of their understanding. Use a rubric or checklist during group conversations about the Declaration of Independence.
- Have the class participate in a Snowstorm:
- Give each student a small piece of paper and instruct them to write one sentence that shows what they learned about the Declaration of Independence.
- Direct students to crumple the paper up and throw it across the room.
- Tell everyone to pick up a piece of paper to reveal the sentence written on it.
- Go around the class and have each student read aloud the sentence on the paper.
Review and closing(5 minutes)
- Write several yes/no statements on the board, such as “The Declaration of Independence was an important document.”
- Direct students to give a thumbs up if that is a true statement or a thumbs down if that is not a true statement.
- Explain to students that the Declaration of Independence is just one of many important documents created as the United States was forming.