Analyzing "The Declaration of Indepenence," Day Three of Three

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Students will be able to identify central ideas by analyzing "The Declaration of Independence" as a whole class and independently.

Big Idea

Down with the King? Students analyze "The Declaration of Independence."

Do Now: Tips of Analysis and Evaluation

5 minutes

As we approach the end of our reading of "The Declaration of Independence," I prepare students for the analysis work ahead. Today, I ask them to list three tips for successful analysis and evaluation of claim and evidence.

Some students sit stumped -- I remind them to review their notes, and a flurry of activity ensues. Others make their list at lightning speed without the notes, a sign to me that they are familiar with the process after several practices.

After attendance, I grab a handful of chalk from the board and meander the room, leaving chalk with different students. When I'm out of chalk, I ask students with chalk to write a tip on the board. The safety of writing means that if they aren't sure of themselves, they can quickly confer with another student or check out what others are writing; of course, it also means they must have something to add. The activity is a good mix of support and responsibility.

The frenzy at the board complete, we review the scribbled tips, including:

  • Determine details first
  • Claims should not be straight fact
  • Talk about how claims connect
  • Look for repeated ideas
  • Are there enough details?
  • Look for counter-claims
  • Do the details actually connect to the claims?
  • Are there a good variety of details--logos, ethos, pathos?

I ask students to chime in with other tips not listed, and we end with a board full of review as we embark on our second solo analysis.

Analyzing "The Declaration"

25 minutes

Today, we continue reading "The Declaration," using the same read-write-share format referenced in this lesson. With two similar readings under our belt, we jump in with little review of the process.

Our readings today focus on the the people of Britain and our final declaration of freedom. As we discuss Jefferson's grievances against the people of Britain, I push gently on our errors of reasoning study from the week before--is Jefferson's attack on ALL of Britain fair? Students shake their heads no, and a few chime in that not everyone was at fault. Not everyone turneda blind eye to the colonies problems. Now to see if they remember this comment when they formally analyze the text!

We close our reading with the final paragraph declaring the colonies intent to become a new nation; students are impressed with the fancy wording and sentence structure as our nation becomes independent.

Independent Practice

15 minutes

Our reading complete, we transition to solo analysis of "The Declaration of Independence." By now, students have a fully annotated text, marked with their own comments and key points from each paragraph. I ask them to use these notes and a review of the whole text for a full analysis of central ideas, textual support, connections between claims, and the effectiveness of the arguments.

We have limited time today, as I knew we would, but my sneaky plan will still work. I'm treating this exercise much like a rough draft. Students will submit their first two steps (classify details and identify claims) at the end of the hour for feedback before they move into further analysis on Friday. If these two steps are incorrect, EVERYTHING on their analysis will be incorrect--better to catch errors early.

As students work, I circulate, observing over their shoulders. I'm pleased--my feedback on our first solo practice is being implemented:

I collect their work at the end of the hour and see increased confidence on my students' faces, wahoo! Their work, too, reflects improvement. Students realized the repeated emphasis on "He" was important, and that one claim relates to the bad choices of the King of Great Britain. So, too, do they realize that a second claim relates to establishing a government for and by the people. The connection between these claims will come easy in our next analysis work.