Continental Congress - Everyone has a Demand and a Plan

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SWBAT...summarize the four counter demand plans presented at the First Continental Congress and debate orally and in writing the pros and cons of each claim with reasons and evidence

Big Idea

Group brainstorming for ideas is productive in getting many ideas shared, but can be a set back if the group cannot decide on one idea. Students become members of Continental Congress to help them decide on a course of action for the colonists.

Creating the Purpose

10 minutes

I want to engage my students in the task at hand today, so I open by sharing something that I expect them to be about. I tell my students that yesterday all the teachers were told that our school day may start even earlier. This decision was being made by our district office, not our principal. I ask students how many agree with this decision? How many disagree (I want us all to be on the same side of the issue before I ask the next question). Then, I explain that we need to do something to make the school administration realize that WE don't agree with this change. So, I ask students, "What do you think we should do?"  

I write their ideas on the board  and expect students to respond by saying that we should write letters, call the district office, refuse to do it, etc. (Hint: these will help to make the connection to the colonial disagreements).

I now share that this idea of starting school earlier was a true issue that was brought up to address  problem of students getting lower scores on their testing. I also share that due to teacher and parent disapproval, it was not acted upon.

I have their interest so now I introduce our objective. I explain that this anecdote about our school starting earlier is similar to what happened to the colonists by the British government. The British government enacted laws and changes, but the difference was that they didn't listen to the colonists opinions. I show them a copy of The Revolutionary War book and share that we will be using this book and other reading materials to learn more facts about this issue.

I then tell students that we are going to read about why the Continental Congress was formed, how they shared their disagreements with the King and Parliament, and what plans they wrote to address these areas of disagreement.   

Guiding the Learning

15 minutes

This was such a fun activity! I have students move into small groups and on each table group I have a baggie with Revolutionary Act names (Red tags) and another baggie with Act definitions (Green Tags). I have also given them a sheet of blue paper that is folded lengthwise where they will glue their acts to. I challenge the groups to match each Act to its definition. We have reviewed some in our small group reading groups but none have read about all of them. This is a way to teach context clues (RI 5.4, L 5.4a) along with reasoning (RI 5.7) and discussion skills (SL 5.1d) because some of the act names could be associated with more than one tag (Sugar Act, Stamp Act)

On my signal, students are instructed to read and discuss each part and then to match the Acts with the correct Definitions on their desks. Here's a group debating their responses: 

At the signal, I have students rotate to the next table and assess their responses as we review aloud as a class (turning over any group they determine to be incorrect) (RI 5.10). This process of correcting I feel is more effective than correcting their own because it forces them to reread more carefully as we review. As we review I ask students to share their evidence in the definitions for their responses and any background information they used (SL 5.3). I add two groups work to our timeline chart to begin our first event. 


Reading and Responding

10 minutes

I now want students to apply what they learned back into our historical timeline and to get the opportunity to visualize the events that occurred. I love this book because the passages are shorter and there are great pictures that contribute to their conceptualizing the emotions and events. I have student groups read a section from the text "The Revolutionary War" by John Malam - pg. 14 "Reaction in America" and "The First Continental Congress" (any book with information could be substituted here as a reading reference source) I ask how are the colonists feeling at this point in time? What clues does the illustrator give us in the pictures included? I then read "Reaction in Britain" pg 15. I ask does Britain sound or act like they are worried? Why wouldn't they be worried? (SL 5.3) I ask these leading questions to get students thinking about both sides of the issue. (see my reflection on why I added this section)

We share out responses and build an understanding of the events that led to this point and the tension that is in the air. (SL 5.1d)

Independent Practice

20 minutes

Now I get students ready to address what the Colonists did to share their disagreements with Britain and the King.

I tell them that just like our different ideas to help with the "earlier school start time" problem, delegates who came to the Continental Congress meetings had different ideas about what to do and say to Britain. I share that they are going to get a page that shares the four main plans that the Continental Congress had to vote on. I add that I am not going to tell them which one was chosen, but instead have them decide for themselves which would be the best solution. They will outline the positive and negatives of each and then decide on the best plan on their response sheet. The response sheets ask them to come up with their own responses to support each pro and con using evidence from the text. This helps them to personalize the events and discussions and feel more closely involved in their final decision. 

I ask for questions, pass out the pages and off they go to make their decisions (RI 5.1, 5.2, L 5.4 a). I circulate and respond to questions on topics and vocabulary - not too many which means they have a higher understanding from the lesson scaffolding. Most students worked independently, but those who struggled had the ability to partner with a peer or to come to the back table to work in a small group to complete their responses. 

Examples of some of the students stronger responses are attached for each plan: plan 2, plan 3plan 4 (W 5.2b) 



Closing the Loop

10 minutes

I signal time and we gather together for discussion. I call on students to share the positives and negatives of different plans (SL 5.1a) . We then take our class vote and have a majority but have two plans that actually scored higher votes.

This turns out to be a benefit because I can now ask students if they felt this happened during the congressional meeting? Why? What do you think they did to solve the issue?  I shared that this was similar to what happened at the First Continental Congress and helped them to make improvements to their final plan using information from both plans. (SL 5.1c)

I closed the lesson by sharing that some colonists still feared losing British support but one, named Thomas Paine, felt that independence was the best choice. I share what he wrote and left them just reflect silently on it because we will bring it up again in our next lesson.

He wrote what was called Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, published in January 1776.  In this publication he tried to persuade the colonists to support independence by persuasively arguing that America needed to break free from a government that violated the natural rights of its citizens. “We have it in our power, to begin the world over again . . . the birthday of a new world is at hand,” Paine promised. Over 120,000 copies of Common Sense sold within its first few months of  publication and it became a big part of our later Declaration of Independence document...

My purpose is to frontload this information to build anticipation for the next lesson on George Washington and his and Thomas Jefferson's reference to this document, and then to the Declaration of Independence.

I close the lesson by projecting the picture of the Battle of Lexington and Concord on the board and asking them how they think the British reacted to all this anger and threats from the colonists? (SL 5.3) We do a quick share to respond to the questions on the picture and I end by stating that we are going to learn more about the British reaction in the next lesson.