Lesson 28

Let's Set The Stage For A Duel!

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SWBAT understand how firsthand and secondhand accounts can alter the viewpoints of an event.

Big Idea

Would you tell the complete truth if a friend was in trouble?


To start wrapping up the unit, this lesson will ask students to think about the multiple viewpoints of the Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton duel. I want students to have an idea of how firsthand and secondhand accounts can sway the viewpoints. This is the first of 3 lessons where students will use multiple sources to answer the historical debate, “Who fired first?” We will primarily focus on a duel simulation where the students will battle to see who can ring a bell first and the winner is reported by a trusty second. We’ll also be building background with a read aloud about the relationship between Burr and Hamilton. The intro, close read and video will take two days and on the third day we’ll wrap up with opinion writing about what the students feel happened that fateful day in 1804. After this lesson, students will be completing a performance assessment for the unit using many of the skills from this lesson.


5 minutes

Today the students will begin to answer the question, “If people are around to witness an event, why are there multiple accounts or stories?” by working through a simulation of a duel. The main focus of the lesson is Hamilton and Burr’s duel, so the students will have a battle of the bells to gain a better understanding of how we can have multiple viewpoints

Read Aloud

10 minutes

Today we will begin reading about a tragic event that happened over 200 years ago involving two distinguished lawyers who served with distinction in the War for Independence and in various state and federal offices after the war.  I’ll be reading aloud the story “Duel!Burr and Hamilton’s Deadly War of Words” to build the background for the historical part of the lesson today. The focus of the lesson is to analyze multiple viewpoints of what happened that day and think about why there would be multiple accounts, so this just sets the stage for the day.

Close Read

25 minutes

My students will receive a few articles to begin a close read. One is "Duel At Dawn" and the other is an excerpt from the book The Duel.They will be focusing on finding valid evidence while reading independently today. I will be meeting with the kiddos while they are reading to be sure that students aren’t struggling too much.

Will we ever know who fired first? Did Hamilton "ask" to die? Should Burr have been treated as a villian? So many questions linger in the minds of Americans because there isn't a solid testimony of that day. Today you will begin reading a series of accounts to start forming your own viewpoint of what happened that day. We will not finish the close read today. Tomorrow we will continue reading and then start discussing what information is the most valid for you. You will then write me an opinion piece about what happened that unfortunate day in history. 

This is going to take them some time. You may need to give them a day in between this lesson and the next to finish reading depending on your group. This lesson connects to our primary sources lesson in social studies, so they'll be reading the rest later today.