The American Revolution

From the discoveries of Columbus to the rise  of self-government in the Reformation we look at the influences that ultimately led to the Revolutionary War. We then look into the causes, battles and events immediately following the Revolutionary War including the Declaration of Independence.

Essential Question: Were the colonists right to go to war with Britain?

Complete Unit Guide: 30 Days of Revolutionary Lesson Plans

Lecture Notes

(Music and videos have been removed for copyright reasons, thanks Congress!)

The United States didn't just happen. Let's meet the people and events that led to colonization.

Watch small annoyances snowball into full blown revolution! Snowball fight!

A short, chronological look at the major turning points of the Revolutionary War.

Labs and Activities

1. History Mystery: Roanoke - Students examine 8 sources to try to determine what happened to the Lost Colony of Roanoke. High interest and perfect for Common Core. Here's some updated research:

2. Pocahontas: Did it Happen? - A comparison of popular accounts of Pocahontas saving John Smith as shown in The New World and Disney's Pocahontas to primary and secondary accounts of the same event.

3. Categorizing the Colonies - Students work in groups to compare, contrast and categorize the 13 Colonies into different groups using fact cards. The worksheet that goes along with the cards can be modified to fit whatever characteristics of the colonies one might be trying to highlight. Helps students see the importance of grouping and classifying for historians.

4. Weigh the Evidence: The Boston Massacre - A series of 7 sources of information on the Boston Massacre. Students analyze and evaluate each source before deciding if the British soldiers involved were guilty of murder. 

I've set up a spreadsheet students can use if you are 1:1 - WTE: Boston Student Sheet.

5. HA: Common Sense - A close-reading of Thomas Paine's Common Sense with an eye toward biased language and persuasive techniques. 

6. Lexington: Who Fired First? - Adapted (shortened) from an lesson where students review a series of sources, both primary and secondary, in an attempt to determine who fired the first shot at Lexington. I've also used sources from the Library of Congres

7. Of Parents and Children - This is adapted from a lesson that I've seen in many places and cannot determine the origin of! Whoever made this, you are cool. This looks at the causes of the Revolutions as analogies to a teenager struggling with, arguably, overbearing parents. Students consider how they'd react to their parents' decisions and then see how that ties back to history. Here's the presentation and the student guide which is also available as a worksheet if you still exist in the real world.

8. Declaration of Independence: Break it Down - A series of activities designed to make the Declaration of Independence understandable for students. Part 1 is a PowerPoint that imagines the opening paragraph as a series of break-up texts. Part 2 is a comparison of the original version written by Jefferson with the version we know today. Part 3 involves matching modern translations of the Declaration to the original and then ranking the charges against King George based on how big of a deal they were.

9. The Settlers of America: Create-a-Colony Game - An in-depth multimedia game/simulation exploring how the colonies lost touch with the British government. Students are forced to make difficult decisions for the benefit of their people that the British crown may not support. If you try to run this in Google Slides you will not see the point values on the decision steps! This is somewhat complex but read through the instructions and student sheet and figure out how to best make it work for you. My kids loved it and it led wonderfully into the next unit.

I've created a spreadsheet that students can use to track their score during the game if they have computer access. I haven't tried it yet but I think it will help greatly with the organization and the tracking of the game.

Here's the intro video!

10. The Times that Try Men's Souls - Students take on the role of a British intelligence officer reporting on the state of the rebel army in the early years of the Revolution. They will examine primary source accounts of military life focusing on the winter of 1777 in Valley Forge.

11. BreakoutEDU: Washington's Spies - Students attempt to break out of (okay, actually into) a series of locks based on the codes and tactics used by Washington's spy ring. Instructions + Clue Pack 1  Clue Pack 2

More information on how to get the needed locks can be found at the BreakoutEDU site.  An all digital version of the activity (including the locks) that requires no purchases can be found here.

12. HA: Is War Ever Justified? - In preparation for the upcoming DBQuest students will do a close reading of a debate on whether war is ever justified.