Lesson Plan: Origins of the American Republic

Time: One week or five 90-minute periods.

Objectives: The students will

I. outline the causes and outcomes of the events that took place during and after the American revolution;

II. discuss the factors that led to the development of the American republican form of government;

III. evaluate whether the ideals set forth by the Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are still alive within contemporary American government.

Curricular Connections: This lesson covers the following elements of the WCBOE Essential Curriculum:

1.1 Identify the compromises struck by the Constitutional Convention. PS-1

1.2 Point out the principles of government stated in the Constitution. PS-1

1.3 Relate the rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights to various Supreme Court cases. PS-1

1.10 Compare and contrast the concepts of the Mayflower Compact and the Declaration of Independence. PS-5

1.11 Relate the rights guaranteed by the first ten amendments of the Constitution.

1.15 Give examples of the principles of democracy found in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. PNW-1

2.1 Analyze the reasons for establishing a bicameral Congress. PS-1

Warm Up Activity (Anticipatory Set): Vocabulary of the American Revolution and Constitution

A) Have the students define and discuss the following terms (taken from Government In America, by Richard Hardy, Houghton Mifflin, Publishers, 1994. Chapter 2.

B) Each section can be assigned over a class period or completed for homework over several days.
Section 1: Page 33
  1. Magna Charta
  2. Parliament
  3. Petition of Right
  4. English Bill of Rights
  5. Common Law
  6. Precedent
Section 2: Page 39
  1. Charter
  2. Proprietor
  3. Assembly
  4. Burgess
  5. Mayflower Compact
  6. Fundamental Orders
  7. "salutary neglect"
  8. Albany Plan of Union
  9. Stamp Act
  10. "Intolerable Acts"
Section 3: Page 45
  1. Bicameral
  2. Unicameral
  3. Bill of Rights
  4. Articles of Confederation
  5. Ratification
  6. Northwest Ordinance
Section 4: Page 57
  1. Quorum
  2. Virginia Plan
  3. New Jersey Plan
  4. Great Compromise
  5. Federalists
  6. Antifederalist

Other ideas to know (Not in chapter as vocabulary terms):

  1. The Federalist Papers
  2. The Slavery and Taxation Question
  3. Federalism
  4. The Annapolis Convention
  5. Shay's Rebellion
  6. State Constitutions
  7. Embargo
  8. Boycott
  9. First and Second Continental Congresses
  10. Separation of Powers
Would you prefer these terms as a Word 97 Document? Download the document here.
A matching worksheet for these terms appears below.

Main Activity (Instructional Input): Web Project: You Are There: A Revolutionary On-line Newspaper

Students will research the events of the revolutionary period up to the ratification of the Constitution and the adoption of the Bill of Rights. A full description of the project has been posted. Any collaboration from other classes or schools on this project is highly encouraged! Email George Cassutto with ideas and suggestions: georgecassutto@hotmail.com

Guided Practice:

A) Have students create flash cards using the terms above. Instruct them to keep their definitions to a sentence or less.

Variation: "I Have Who Has..."

By creating a flash card that has an answer and a question, you can improve students' listening skills while helping them with the content. Each student asks a question ("Who has...") and must listen for the answer ("I Have...") The cards must be linked as follows:
Card 1

Who has: The meeting in Philadelphia, 1787 where delegates came to revise the articles of Confederation but ended up writing a new plan of government.

I have: Federalist papers

Card 2

Who has: Any two-house legislature. Congress and England's Parliament are both one of these types of bodies.

I have: Constitutional Convention

Card 3

Who has: This document was one of the first examples of self-rule in the new world. It stated colonists would abide by "just and equal laws."

I have: Bicameral

Card 4

Who has: These documents were arguments in favor of ratification of the Constitution and were written by famous founding fathers such as James Madison and Alexander Hamilton (who wrote under the pseudonym Publius). 

(Answer is on Card 1)

I have: Mayflower Compact

The linking of flash cards should be created so that all of the cards are covered. Students can be used in the process of creating the cards by assigning each student a definition and a term. The last card's question is the first card's answer. Distribute the cards randomly or allow the students to keep the card they created. Students should repeat the asking and answering until they reduce their time in responding by remaining alert and knowledgeable.

More traditional mastery approaches include:

B) Create partner pairs or triads so students can practice memorizing or discussing the terms listed in the warm-up section.

Check For Understanding: Vocabulary Matching

A) An understanding of the terms above can be checked with this matching exercise.

B) Have students complete the matching exercise on their own paper and review terms with them orally when complete.

Homework (Independent Practice): The Constitution In The News

A) Have the students view a news broadcast, visit a web page, or locate a newspaper or magazine article that shows how the constitution is still at work today.

B) Have students summarize the article or broadcast and relate the constitutional issues to the events of the Revolutionary and Constitutional periods.

Wrap-Up Activity (Closure): If the Founding Fathers were alive today...

A) Have the students develop two well-written paragraphs, each of which that finishes the following statements:

1) If the Founding fathers were alive today, they would be proud of the United States because...

2) If the Founding fathers were alive today, they would be ashamed of the United States because...

Evaluation: The lesson will be evaluated by:

I. the accuracy of student's written responses;

II. student's scores on future tests and quizzes.

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