Lesson 19

Social Studies Connection: A Manifest Destiny Debate Circa 1840 Day 1

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SWBAT read opposing viewpoints on a topic and defend a side.

Big Idea

So was it God's plan to push the settlers west to take control of land and the people?


10 minutes

In social studies we've been learning about Westward Expansion and really digging into the viewpoints that surrounded the choices made during that time. I decided a great topic for debate was Manifest Destiny, and I found a really great resource on Teachers Pay Teachers.  I like it because the reading passages are the case FOR Manifest Destiny and the case AGAINST Manifest Destiny. Also, the text is well written and will push the kids to read more difficult text. The graphic organizers included are scaffolded well to help the kids think through all of the steps involved in the debate and seeing those multiple perspectives.  If you're not up for paying for the file, here are some great resources you could use instead. 

 This will not be a time where I just set the kids free. They will need some help reading the text as it is at an instructional level for most of my class. I had a few kids do a quick read for me, and they stumbled on quite a few words, so this will be integrated in my social studies and my reading block. 

Today we are going to read two perspectives of manifest destiny. We've been talking about this idea quite a bit in social studies and many of you have had strong opinions about it. I thought since you liked it so much, we could try a debate. Over the next two days, we will close read, discuss, plan, and debate the case FOR and AGAINST manifest destiny. Once we finish the instruction and discussion, I will hand you a graphic organizer that tells you the case you will support. I want the room to be pretty even for the debate, so you may not get the side you were hoping. 


Close Read

40 minutes

Today you will read two opposing positions on Manifest Destiny. You will first complete a close read of the material. I'd like you to highlight at least 3 key points and supporting evidence for each case. I'd also like you to circle any words or phrases that are confusing. We will be discussing those together after the close read. 

As the students are reading, I'll be checking in with my students who generally struggle in this area. The text is more difficult, but I think most of my kids are ready for that challenge. My kids who struggle may need me to support. I will probably need to read aloud for them or at least move them through the passage stopping at each paragraph. 

I have the whole class read both passages before assigning which position they'll be taking. They need to know both sides to the story before defending a position. I was going to let my students choose the position, but this class has a hard time pushing themselves to be challenged, so I want to assign the positions to students that I know can handle the challenge. Plus, we can't very well have 33 kids defending the same position.