American Revolution Through Song

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SWBAT describe how a narrator's point of view influences the way in which an event is described.

Big Idea

Why were songs so important during the American Revolution?

Cue Set

20 minutes

During the Cue Set, scholars read pages 282-283 in their Houghton Mifflin text book.  These pages explain the history of the song Yankee Doodle.  Then, scholars reflect on the following question:  Why were songs so important during the American Revolution? 

I give scholars 3 minutes to read, and 1 minute to jot down their thinking.  This time should be silent and independent.  I circulate and read the section aloud to my ELL scholars with the read aloud accommodation.  

Scholars then have 30 seconds to share their thoughts with their friends.  I expect scholars to say things like, songs were a way to communicate between people.  They were a way to spread an opinion or to try to convince others to join your side.  After scholars share, I take 2 friends from my cup and 2 volunteers to share with me.  Here are some notes from Cue Set that I recorded on our Smart Board to help us as we move forward in the lesson.  

Teaching Strategy

30 minutes

During the Teaching Strategy, we listen to the Revolutionary War song: Battle of the Kegs.  

Then, I model how to answer the four questions below:

1. From who's point of view is the song sung?  

2. How did the singers feel when singing it? 

3. How does the song describe the events being sung about?  

4. What is the meaning of the song and how is it significant to the American Revolution?   

I help scholars know HOW to answer by thinking aloud.  For example, to answer the first question I ask myself, "Is this from the point of view of a Patriot or a Loyalist?  Does it appear to mock the British or celebrate their great feat?"  For the second question, I might ask myself, "Is this a happy tune with a quick beat or a slow, sad ballad?"  

It is TREMENDOUSLY helpful for students to hear the thinking of a strong reader before they begin to deconstruct the songs independently.  This will help them to be much more successful in the next section because they know how to arrive at the answers.  

Check out this website for additional resources and songs.  

Guided Practice

30 minutes

During the Guided Practice, scholars get into one of six teacher-assigned groups to analyze one song from the American Revolution.  They answer the same four questions that we answered together during the Teaching Strategy.  Finally, they create a poster with images and pictures that represent the feelings that their song conjured.  I give each group two packets of the Revolutionary War Songs so that they have the lyrics, in print, of their song.  

Scholars get up and move throughout the room so that they are near their group members.  Groups are heterogeneous so that all scholars can access the songs and so that they can work together to accomplish the task.  Each group has an iPad so that they can research their song if needed.  One website is given to each group that has a recording of the song so that they can hear the song sung and played.  

*Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier  

*Free America 

*The Congress 


*God Save the King

*Revolutionary Tea 


Independent Practice

10 minutes

During the independent practice, scholars present their posters.  While scholars present, other scholars watch silently.  Scholars have 2 minutes to make their presentation.  The idea here is that presentations are short, sweet and it provides me with an opportunity to see how deeply each group understood the song.