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American Revolution Unit (New York)
Submitted by Samantha in New York
4th and 5th Grade Self-Contained Classroom
Unit Title/Grade Level:Grade 4: The Revolutionary War in New York State
New York State’s location and its relationship to the locations of other people and places meant that New York would play a key role in the American Revolution.
New York’s waterways played a vital role in Britain’s plans to capture New York; several key battles of the Revolution were fought along New York’s rivers and lakes.
The Battle of Saratoga was a turning point in the American Revolution.
The leaders of the American Revolution came from all walks of life and regions of the thirteen colonies.
The American Revolution had a lasting impact on New York.
Lesson Title: Why were Americans upset with the British Government?
1. Why was it wrong for Britain to create rules for its colony across the ocean?
2. Why did American colonists feel that the rules were unfair?
• Standard 1: History of the United States and New York
1. Change, Culture, Empathy, Needs and Wants
2. Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of major ideas, eras, themes, developments and turning points in history.
• Standard 2: Civics, Citizenship, and Government
1. Change and Conflicts
1. Change involves the basic alterations in things, events, and ideas.
2. Culture means the patterns of human behavior that includes ideas, beliefs, values, artifacts, and ways of making a living which any society transmits to succeeding generations to meet its fundamental needs.
3. Empathy means the ability to understand others through being able to identify in one’s self responses similar to the experiences, behaviors, and responses of others.
• Civics, Citizenship, and Government
1. Citizenship means membership in a community (neighborhood, school, region, state, nation, and world) with its accompanying rights, responsibilities, and dispositions.
• Identify why American colonists felt that Great Britain’s rules were unfair
• Present information found and explain how conclusions were reached
• Explore American colonial life and why it was challenging
• Discuss the effects of creating laws from overseas
• List of rules from teacher
• Notebooks, pens/pencils
• Poster board
• Examine the information presented
• Understand why American colonists felt mistreated
• Compare and contrast how you feel when subjected to unfair rules to how the American colonists felt
1. The lesson will kick off the unit on the Revolutionary War, so it is very important that students see why there was conflict between Britain and the American colonists.
2. The teacher first ask the class:
a. Who determines the rules of your classroom? The teacher will guide students to see that the rules are made by the teacher, principal, and school board.
b. Would it be better if the students made the rules?
c. What about a balance between matters the teacher resolves and those students resolve? What are some advantages of deciding together?
3. The teacher will write the following above questions on the poster board. Students will discuss them as a class and come up with answers.
a. Students will copy down these answers in their notebooks.
1. To understand some of the feelings the American colonists had immediately before the Revolution, the teacher will create rules by which your classroom must operate. These rules will be posted on the wall when students come in for the morning. The teacher will announce that these are the new rules and they must be followed.
a. These rules will include a tax on drinking from the water fountain, using chalk, and going to the restroom. Also, students will be forced to share school supplies and will not be allowed to ask questions on anything after 10:00AM.
2. Students will read and review the rules.
a. The teacher will act without concern for the effect on the classroom, which is what the colonists experienced just before the Revolution.
Application Activity and Criteria:
1. After a morning of following these new rules, the teacher will ask students to record their feelings and frustrations in their notebooks. They will spend 5 minutes writing silently.
a. Students who have handwriting difficulties can use the classroom computers to document their feelings.
b. After the experience, the class will discuss the contrasting situations and compare them with the feelings of the real colonists. The teacher will gather responses on a Venn diagram.
3. After the class discusses why students are upset with laws that they had no control over, teacher will explain why the American colonists were upset.
a. The teacher will first write on the board the rules the British made without consulting American colonists including:
1) Tax on tea
2) Tax on stamps
3) Forcing colonists to house soldiers
4) Lack of representation to create these rules
b. The teacher will make a chart such as the one following to show the actions and reactions of the British government and colonists just prior to the war.
c. The teacher will discuss what either side might have done at any point to prevent war.
1. For homework students will pretend that they are a colonist and write a letter explaining their point of view to relatives in England. The letter must be one full page (one side).
a. They need to consider their relatives’ point of view.
b. Students who have difficulty completing this assignment at home (since they are unable to write well) can stay after school and finish assignment.
1. The following day the teacher will collect the letters and see if students understood the assignment and why American colonists were upset by the new laws enforced upon them.
2. Letters will be graded with:
a. Check: Student completed the assignment and understood the colonists’ frustration
b. Check Plus: Student completed the assignment and included extra information including tax law examples and examples from class to show that they fully understood the colonists’ frustration
c. Check Minus: Student did not understand why colonists were upset.
When we study the taxes levied on the colonists by the British government, I have the students break into 2 groups. One group represents the Americans, and the other group is the British government. Their assignment is to come up with an "advertising campaign" which sums up the feelings of their "side". They can make posters, songs, newspaper articles, or reports. They then present their side to the class.