Timeline of the War - What Made Them Keep Fighting?

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SWBAT...determine the major events of the Revolutionary War and explain using key details to show how these turning points affected the outcome

Big Idea

Both sides had belief in the cause they were fighting for - and both sides had belief that they would win. Sharing and summarizing helps us realize how when times got tough it was the leadership and the group unity that helped them persevere.

Creating the Purpose

10 minutes

I chose to add a timeline to this section of the unit to help students tie together the sections we already covered with the events of the war. This helps them to see the relations between the people and events and how they all contributed to how we won the war. I also wanted to add a lesson on turning points and their importance to moral because it was not well understood in previous lesson on George Washington. This is a great way to visualize how their wins "turned" the path of the war upward. A secondary goal is to teach students through reading (RI 5.10), discourse (SL 5.4) and visualization the cause-effect relationships and hardships faced in war times to build conceptual connections (increases student motivation). 

I wavered on when would be a the best place to show a video of the war and while both worked well, I recommend the start because students can conceptualize what they are reading and if they need more time for their projects you have the leeway to add it to the end.

In the video I share some of the reasons I chose it, what difficulties and positives it presented and how it helped with the unit. I'm still working on how to condense the lesson into a smaller time frame but still help students visualize the events, the length of the war and the cause-effect relationships.



There are not many short clips on the revolutionary war - but I liked this one because it showed various pictures that students will make connections to as they complete their assignments. Plus the music really got their attention and created an emotional level that I feel helped them put purpose and importance to their study of this part of history.


I followed up the video by sharing that the Revolutionary War had now begun and both sides were fighting as best they could with the belief that they would win in the end. The war lasted eight + years so like many long trips - it was more exciting at the start than in the middle or ending years when supplies were low and many difficulties were faced.

I then add that our objective today is to create a class time line using facts from each of each years of the war to build paragraphs and illustrations which explain the events that led up to our independence (RI 5.2). We will focus on the turning points in the war and how these affected the outcomes of each battle. 

Guiding the Learning

15 minutes

I share with students that many events occurred during the course of the war. I show them the string and the dates that I have created in our classroom to demonstrate the years of the war and the major events of each. (I'm moving this into the hallway when we are done to give us a longer area and the ability to add more details. For this classroom lesson we are just going to clip sections closer together)

I pass out the passage that defines the events that led up to the war to use as a class example of what the expectations are for this lesson (RI 5.3). I project the history graphic organizer on the board and we do a quick summary review of each section (RI 5.2).

I model reading the first paragraph and thinking aloud about the main idea and events in it (RI 5.2, RI 5.10). I add details to the chart and then have students respond with their thoughts (SL 5.3). I have them partner read the next paragraphs and highlight details as they read. Students volunteer information that we add to the graphic organizer chart (SL 5.1a).

We then review how to write the information in an informative paragraph (W 5.2). I feel it is important to model it here so that each partnered group not only knows how to take notes on the reading (limits copying summaries from the text) and helps them see the expectations for their writing (descriptive sentences with main ideas included in each) I model some and take suggestions for the rest with students adding on or debating what others have stated until we come up with a strong example (SL 5.1c) - this part goes pretty quickly once you get everyone involved, but you may need to delegate at the end or they can keep changing and adding details just to be heard or make it their way.

I write this on a sheet of paper and ask what picture we should draw the visualize the events? They decide on the Continental Congress meeting - I share that I will attempt to draw it when they begin their group work. I also show them the George Washington Book and other Revolutionary War themed books (from American Books) we have in class to help with their summaries and illustrations. (RI 5.2)  

Independent Practice

35 minutes

This task is a bit lengthy so you may need to extend it to an additional day. There are a lot of wars going on in this timeline and students need to understand all the major battles. That's a a ot of reading and realisticly not much will be remembered. Changing it to a timeline allows students to gain deeper understanding of not only their assigned sections but also the other events from shared discussions, visual recreations and reference to the timeline for reading and reflection (posted for them to use). The format of this lesson addresses many of the CCSS standards for reading, speaking and listening and writing in one lesson - it also gives them an opportunity to read higher level history based text. The fun factor of creating and learning keeps them motivated to work with this higher level text to build understanding and makes the lesson feel more "do-able". 

Students break into groups of 3-4 because I have 33 students in my class and wanted each to work on a different section of the timeline. You can differentiate with how many you have in class to make smaller groups. (the smaller groupings helps with getting everyone more involved in the project, but the larger groups give more voices to the discussions)

Each group gets a packet with their year's information (1775, 1776, 1777, 1778, 1779, 1780, 1781, 1782, 1783) a graphic organizer for their details, a summary of events page (final writing to post for their year) and a page for their timeline drawing. (RI 5.10)

I do a quick review of how to read a timeline and take questions from students (RI 5.9, RI 5.10).

I share that the drawings do not need to be exact and that the written responses will be the focus and graded portions of their activity - highly suggest this so they do not spend too much time on the easier part - drawing - than on the research and gathering of facts part. I then add that this project will get a group grade - which motivates them to work together and to help edit to make the project as good as possible.

Students get busy (RI 5.10, SL 5.4, W 5.9a) and I circulate and make sure all are on task before I attempt the drawing of the Continental Congress meeting - I'm not a gifted artist to say the least.

There are many students groups who have strategies to complete their projects - here's a video of them sharing (SL 5.1b):

and this group explains how they researched for extra facts


Closing the Loop

10 minutes

We close the unit by having representatives from each group share their part of the timeline and what major events and pictures that occurred within their selected years (SL 5.2). They review whether British are winning or Colonists are winning and the turning points for their section (SL 5.3). Students in class ask questions for parts they do not understand or to build their knowledge (SL 5.1c).

Here's my last group who had to present after the rest - not the best video but it will give you an example of what groups wrote and what pictures they related to their years

I then had them complete the closing question worksheet in class and as homework for that night (W 5.9b). I gather their summary pages and their illustrations and mount them on our display board for all to learn from. Our board is long so I split it between wall one and wall two.