What's so Bad About Paying For a Stamp?

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SWBAT...present an opinion of the British or Colonists on the Stamp Act by sequencing ideas logically and using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas; speak clearly at an understandable pace

Big Idea

To become an effective debater we need to learn both sides of the issue and then accumulate facts to support our opinions.

Creating the Purpose

5 minutes

In this lesson and most of this unit we are focusing on W5.1 teaching students how to create and share their opinions and create a written piece in which their ideas are logically grouped to support their claims.

I open the lesson by asking students who has written and mailed a letter? I ask them to share the steps to mailing a letter. I then ask them how much a stamp costs (so few knew the answer to this?) I ask one more question - where does the money collected for the stamps that we use to mail letters go towards? I take responses and lead them into thinking more about our mail system and who regulates it. I question in this sequence to get them thinking about how mail gets delivered and where that money goes. Stamps are not as familiar today as they use to be so most students have never considered why we pay for stamps and where the money goes. Paying these governmental fees is a big part of understanding how our country functions which is where our unit will end up. 

I share that our money collected for stamps use to be taxes that were used to help pay for city and government improvements. I go on to share that this taxation using stamps dates back to the times of the colonial settlements in America. In fact it was one of the first causes of the American Revolutionary War. (I don't share more yet, because I want to leave them wondering about this)

I share our objective is to learn about the Stamp Act and to determine both sides of the issue. They will then be asked to take a side and to defend their viewpoints in a class debate and written follow-up assignment.

I project the picture of the stamps on the board and ask them to predict information about the British and the colonists from these examples.       


Guiding the Learning

15 minutes

In this section of the lesson I want to build student understanding of both sides of the Stamp Act issue so that they can keep a more open mind of why both sides were willing to go to war over their beliefs.

I share that there are two sides to each issue and that today we are going to read accounts of why both the British and the colonists felt their opinions were right (RI 5.3). I introduce the charting worksheet and ask students to write notes as we read and discuss the passage together (RI 5.1). I share that I will demonstrate the first entries and that they will work together to complete the rest. I put a large chart paper on the board where I will write our class notes. This chart is effective for this lesson because it helps students to create and visualize a comparison and contrast of the issues between the two parties. 

I then have students pass out the reading passage (online link)and share that they can write margin notes or Post It notes on the sections as we read asking questions or writing down main ideas and supporting details of each side's view point of the issue (RI 5.2).

I begin reading the passage and pause at "enlarged Britain's debt" and think aloud that "debt" is bills that someone owes and that war costs a lot for weapons, soldiers salaries and food, repairs and loss of business incomes and that Britain had to pay for all of it. I add that this might have angered them so I add it to the angered section. 

I go on to read that British were not satisfied with financial and military help they received from the colonists. I ask students if this would be an anger section or a distrust section? I have an almost equal split in the class opinions so I push them further by asking "Do you think they will trust the colonists in the next war to help them out?" No. and now I have a swayed opinion to wards the distrust section which is where I wanted them to go. Plus by modeling questioning I can give them an example of the strategy they should use to determine how to complete their charts.   

I read further and have students share and contribute until we chart both the British and colonists viewpoints in the first section of Resentment and Distrust.



Independent Practice

20 minutes

I now release students to complete the rest of the passages and their charts (RI 5.1, 5.2). I have struggling students stay partnered so that they can share advice and gain understanding from the discourse surrounding their reading. Higher students work independently and then meet and confer when they are completed with their final response question.

I circulate primarily looking for understanding of vocabulary (this passage is written at a higher lexile level than some of my students are reading at so I watch to see if they are questioning their partners for word meaning or relying heavily on them for responses due to lower comprehension independently), charting of all the points in the article (did they identify all the main ideas) and understanding the difference between distrust and anger based opinions (this one was difficult and I saw quite a few who had confused these issues)

I also assist students in writing enough details to be able to debate the issues without relying back on the article (W5.1). This will help them in the closing activity.  

Closing the Loop

15 minutes

I ask students to select a card which asks them to defend the British (Loyalists) or colonists (Patriots) - I want to introduce these terms to them for future lessons - and to debate their sides view points on the issue (SL 5.1). I give them 5 minutes to meet and create statements and questions to address the opposing sides viewpoint with the objective of winning the debate (SL 5.1c). Students move to opposite sides of the classroom to create their plans.

Timer sounds and students face each other and the debate begins! Both sides have good evidence to support their view points so we are at a stalemate after about 5-7 min. I stop the debate and ask students to come together. I then ask "Why would some colonists feel compelled to remain allied with the British even though they lived side by side with those who felt the best course of action was to break away and form a new nation?" (SL 5.4)

Here's a video of the debate - gets a little hot...

Judges decision on who presented the better supported argument?

I take student responses and share that their loyalty was to the country where they were born and in subsequent lessons we will begin to understand why some made this choice. I then give them their exit ticket page for their written responses (SL 5.4, W 5.1). I want to determine who has an understanding of the issues and who does not to plan for how quickly or slowly I can move on to the next lesson in the unit.