Reimagine the Constitutional Convention of 1787

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SWBAT learn the definitions for content specific vocabulary by talking with peers, researching online or using a dictionary.

Big Idea

Content Specific Vocabulary helps you think about and discuss ideas and events!


15 minutes

"Students, as you know, the patriots did win the war against the British and formed a new nation. Next the leaders of America had to decide how to set up their new country. They met in the city of Philadelphia, from May to September of 1787 to write and vote on the laws that would govern America.

Today we are going to start a role play to imagine what it would have been like to be at the convention of 1787.  Let's start my looking at this painting by Howard Chandler Christy depicting the convention.

Show painting.

Let's use our VTS (Visual Thinking Strategies) norms and analyze this painting.

Ask, "Whats going on in this picture?  What do you see that makes you say that?  Rephrase what a student has said, and use a pointer to point the the area the student was talking about.Let students share their ideas about the painting and explain what they see that makes them say that.  Jot down what students say on an anchor chart if you have another adult in the room.   Then ask, "What more can we find?"  Continue in this manner until the discussion feels complete.

I'm expecting that students will notice the the room and setting and say that it is very fancy because of the chandelier and suggest that maybe everyone is rich.  The group is made up of all white men. l all men, they wear different clothes,  they wear wigs,  looks like it is lead by George Washington, some people in the bottom of the picture are whispering,  No women or people of color.

Then say, "You have all noticed some very important things about who participated in the Constitutional Convention of 1787.  In our role play we are going to invite people to participate who did not get the chance back in 1787 because they did not have equal rights at that time.

You each are going to participate in a pretend or a mock convention.  This is called a role pay.  You will participate in the Constitutional Convention by preparing a speech to give to the other delegates.  You will also vote on these two laws.

1.  Should slavery and the slave trade be abolished?

2. Who should have the right to vote?  What role should gender, race, and property ownership play in such a decision?


Group work

30 minutes

Say, "Before we can start preparing for our roles and writing our speeches, you need to learn some important vocabulary.  Look at these words on the screen.  Can I have our readers take turns reading these vocabulary words?  IF you do not know a word you can ask for help.  If you know the word and want to help our readers, raise a quiet hand and the reader will call on someone to red the unknown word.  Sound Good?

Ok let's start."

Project list of Vocabulary Words.  Have the readers take turn reading the words.  If someone knows the meaning of the words and can suggest a synonym, the reader will call on the student and she/he will share.  Go through each vocabulary word in this way.

After finished, have the material managers pass out the vocabulary hand out to the students once they are settle back in their seats.  Tell the students, their jobs it to define the words on the page. They may use a friend, dictionary, or online resource.

Students you will have today and tomorrow in class to finish this task.

Partner Quiz

5 minutes

"Students as you finish writing your definitions you can quiz one another orally on the meanings of the new vocabulary words.

Can I have two volunteers demonstrate what this will look like?"  Call on two students to demonstrate how to quiz each other on the words.

This will keep everyone focused and learning as others are finishing up their definitions.