Paul Revere or Sybil Ludington - Who Warned About the British Coming?

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SWBAT... quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from historical accounts on Paul Revere and Sybil Ludington and their respective roles in the Revolutionary War.

Big Idea

In our country's history, women did not have the same rights as men even if they may have done the same tasks or taken the same risks. In today's lesson, research gives us the ability to find out the unbiased truth about one of these such heroic American

Creating the Purpose

10 minutes

I want to begin class today by reviewing prior knowledge and introducing the research task for the day, so I open by asking,  "How many students have heard of Paul Revere? I then ask, "What is Revere's famous quote? Once students identify the quote, I ask, "Applying what you know about the disputes between the British and the colonists, why do you think he would be warning this?"

This questioning gives me a means to assess the level of review I need to do to introduce the unit and background of Paul Revere. If this class knows enough of the basic information about him, we can proceed with little review and move on to the second set of questions...

What I love most is the second set of questions – Who is Sybil Ludington? Why is she also famous? What do you think she may have done? For this section I get a few mixed responses but no one gives me the fact that she also warned that the British were coming to start the war. That's ok because I want them to evaluate while they are reading and at the end whether or not we should adjust our history books to be more correct.

With interests sufficiently piqued, I then introduce the objective that we are going to learn about Paul Revere and Sybil Ludington and how both contributed to warning the colonists that the British were coming to start a war. We will then use this information and the facts from the articles to evaluate whether our history books should be corrected. (RI 5.1, SL 5.1d)

Guiding the Learning

20 minutes

I share the article about Paul Revere (Ducksters biographies) first because it doesn't hold the interest and curiosity that Sybil’s article does. That interest is what I need for my students to put in the effort to read a second article and have the motivation for the independent work.

We use "Round Robin" strategy (random names called and take over reading) together and then I ask students “Was it fair that many riders helped to warn the colonists of the British coming but only Paul Revere became famous for the efforts?” and “Why do you think that they chose him as the hero?” (SL 5.4) I am looking for them to mention his status in the community or in the organizations. I like this collaborative answering time because it allows students to add-on to each other's thinking; they can get excited or even upset (in this case, likely over the fact that the other riders didn’t get recognition). This spur-of-the-moment mini-debate is what you want to encourage in your classroom in order to teach students deeper evaluation skills and the ability to question a text. Additionally, be sure to ask students to support to their viewpoint on whether or not history books are entirely truthful with evidence from the text (RI.5.1).

This would be a good time to share the “gossip game” and teach them that when stories are shared orally they often get changed to reflect the view point and the opinions of the speakers. This is the activity where students get into a circle and the first person whispers a word or phrase to the next. The message is whispered from one ear to another until it comes back to the first person again. Nine times out of ten the message has changed entirely from what the original message was. This teaches students that personal perspectives can effect our and others listening skills and recollection of ideas presented. (SL 5.2, RL 5.6)

I introduce the comparison - contrast chart and we work together to add +/- signs to signify what he did and didn’t do in this passage (RL 5.3). I'm looking for them to identify information in their reading to respond to questions (RI 5.1) and to evaluate information presented to compare and contrast the two characters actions (RL5.3).   

Independent Practice

20 minutes

I now passed out the Sybil Ludington article (Ducksters biographies) and asked students to read it quietly (RI 5.6) and then to complete the chart (RI 5.3, RL 5.3) and follow-up questions. The questions are added to give them a means to present their supported opinions in a written format. This helps them to form opinions and allows me to assess their levels of understanding of the topic and of the understanding of supportive evidence in the text (RI 5.2). 

After reading, I expect to have a little discussion on what “participated in the war" means  so that I can get students to evaluate whether or not what she did as a messenger would be considered “participating." (SL 5.1c) My purpose for the follow-up questioning was to help students realize that there was bias at this time over what women and men should do in dangerous situations, but because Sybil’s father was a Colonel and had strong beliefs in their cause, he had greater acceptance of her contributions and risk. As we share responses, students also come to the realization that women were not as respected as men in those times (SL 5.1d). Keeping the debate and evidence focus going with this activity! 

For those who finish reading the article early, I ask them to partner with each other and and share their responses about what they read in the articles (SL 5.1, RI 5.1)). This keeps the early finishers actively involved in the learning and gives time for the slower workers to finish their reading and worksheets. 

Closing the Loop

10 minutes

Once students have completed the reading, I open up a discussion by asking students why do they know about Paul Revere and not Sybil Ludington? (SL 5.1d, RI 5.8) I am asking them this to prompt them to question what they read and to evaluate evidence they find in their research. It will lead them into the debate about changing our history books that follows. Here's some of their responses:

Then I asked if it was fair that Paul was recognized  for his acts, and not Sybil Ludington nor the other men who rode with Revere? Then I ask them, "Why do you think that Ludington wasn’t mentioned in our history books?" (SL 5.1d, RI 5.1) I am expecting that that point to women having a lower ranking in society at the time, that there were no women in Sons of Liberty groups, and that they make a connection to a previous text we read about it being against the law for women to even fight in the war.

I continue this discussion of Ludington by asking students why they think she wasn't honored with a statue until after her death.(SL 5.1d, RI 5.1) This question proved to be a little harder for them to understand and respond to because we don't have many statues created here and they didn't really understand the significance to it honoring her efforts.   

I closed with the question we have brought up in the beginning of this lesson by asking students, "Should we change our history books to include all the facts about this famous ride? What problems might this cause?"(SL 5.1d, RI 5.1) I wanted them to debate the far reaching difficulties and expenses it would create vs the value of factual information - they didn't quite get to this point so I shared the information at the end of the lesson.

Here's what students had to say:

I end the class by having students listen and watch a youtube video of a reading of The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (SL 5.5).