Thursday, May 3, 2012

America in Revolt - Unit Ideas

    The Revolution is finally here! I think my kiddos have been looking forward to this unit since I mentioned that it is where we end the year WAY back in September! There is just something about war that excites and fascinates us isn't there?

This is one of my favorite units to teach as well. This year, I am working very hard to integrate my social studies curriculum with my reading and writing areas as well. This unit has seemed to mesh the best so far. A war gives so much openness to analyzing, comparing and contrasting, writing, points of view, and so many other standards met in ELA. I have also found great resources and ideas from AMAZING bloggers such as Teaching in Room 6 and Life in 4B both of which do an incredible job of integrating their social studies curriculum and ELA beautifully in their classrooms.

Here are some of the things we have been working on so far.

We started out in the 13 colonies discussing what life was like for the colonists. We had a "guest visitor" named Elizabeth Higgins {Picture at right with student - aka ME!} who welcomed us to her home, provided tea and cookies for the kids, and shared about her prior life back in England, the journey over, praise for their King, importance of tea in British culture, and her current life in Williamsburg, Virginia. Then had the students practice wearing clothing from the time period and shared a bit about what life would be like for each of them.
{I wish so bad I could show you my lovely kiddo's faces, but alas, I have not gotten parental approval to put them up online so .... white circles are all you get -well and my lovely face of course ;) }
After studying the colonies for a couple of weeks, "Elizabeth Higgins" came to visit again. This time, she presented a completely different view of what her life is like in the colonies. This time, she apologized that she cannot produce tea and explains how that blasted King George has had the nerve to tax everything including their most precious tea! She produces cracker instead of cookies and explains how they are now boycotting shops. Her change in attitude helps the kids see the change in many of the colonists
Students worked together in cooperative groups to produce a time line of events we entitled "The Road to Revolution." We used our History Alive textbooks to find information for each important event.We also make personal flip books of each event with a description and drawing - the students use this to study for our "Road to Revolution" test I give before we delve into the War.

     Throughout the week we break down each event in detail. In writing, students used their VOICE to create a R.A.F.T from the point of view of a tea bag. If you are unfamiliar with what a R.A.F.T is it is a fun style of writing for students to practice the VOICE trait. The teacher chooses their Role. Audience. Format. and Topic. The student's role was to be a Tea Bag. Their audience was Patriot Colonists. The format was to be a letter. Topic was 1. Encourage the patriots to continue fighting for freedom or 2. Beg them to stop and stay loyal to the King.
We also put these on tea paper and had quite the factory going which the kids thought was great!

We also did some great activities I received on TPT from Sound and Sea. She has some really great free stuff! Check her out! One neat one we did was the Boston Massacre Police Report - the kids has great fun acting this out and filling in their reports :)

One of my most favorite simulations all year has to do with taxes and how frustrated the colonists were at King George III and Parliament. The famous cry, "No taxation without representation" comes alive as the students themselves begin shouting it in the classroom! I give each student a Dixie cup and on the bottom I have written either a K (King George), P (three members of Parliament), T (Tax collector), or C (colonist). I have the students who are King George and Parliament join me at the front of the classroom. The two tax collectors stand on either side of the room. The rest of the students remain seated and I go around placing from 10-20 M&M's in each COLONIST cup. In the tax collectors I place three and in the King and three parliament members cups I place one. I explain to the students that the M&M's in their cup represent the product of their livelihoods, whether it represents wealth in terms of money, furs, fish, lumber, crops, etc. It represents how much money they have. I also explain that though the King and Parliament only have one M&M each, it actually represents 100 M&M's because I explain that members were often part of the gentry class in England and therefore had LOTS of family wealth prior to any job they

{First Pix Above: I wish I could show you this kids 
whole face - he is making an awesome frowny face!
Second Pix Above: King George in the Middle, 
Parliment members beside him wanting money!}

currently hold. Then I explain to "Parliament" in a private huddle that they must choose something to "tax" on the students (items include students wearing blue jeans, the color red, sandals, long hair, glasses, etc.) They then must decide whether they want to tax them 1-3 M&M's for having that item. We announce the tax to the class and the tax collectors begin their rounds. Student protest begins almost immediately! After the collectors are finished they bring their full cups to the front and I distribute the "wealth" among the members of Parliament, the King and increase the tax collectors by 2 M&M's each time. Depending on the amount of M&M's you start the colonists out with, there are probably about 4-5 "taxes" passed before you begin to have people running out of money. In the end, the King, Members of Parliament, and the tax collectors all have more M&M's than the colonists and the discussion opportunity is phenomenal! I purposely do not give every colonist the same amount because it opens up discussion afterward about how some students who started out with more are not as frustrated at the end because they still have quite a bit, while others who started out with less or were unlucky enough to have every item that was taxed ended up with nothing. We talk about the different perspectives, how the "colonists" feel about the King, Parliament, and even the tax collectors (remember they tarred and feathered many of them!!) They LOVE this activity and understand, without a doubt, the complicated theory behind taxation without representation.

I have the students do an anticipation guide sheet as both a cooperative learning activity, and sharing of opinions activity, and a prior knowledge activity before we discuss WHY Britain began taxing the colonies.

Another great way to help the students understand how the colonists were feeling toward King George is to show this  parody of Timberland's song "Too late to Apologize." They absolutely LOVE it ...  
Warning: Humming of this throughout other subjects may occur!
This is actually not the original version created but I felt that the rock scene at the end of the original video was inappropriate to the tone and hurt the educational value. While this one isn't perfect, the kids still ADORE it and it keeps the tone serious (if you can call this video serious! HA!).

Here are two other GREAT videos I use from School House Rock to teach the Revolution:
Phew! that is it for now ...
For more great information and lesson ideas on the Revolution, click on the link below! 
American Revolution Linky
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