Analyzing and Evaluation "The Declaration of Independence"

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Objective

Students will be able to identify central ideas, explain how they relate, and evaluate them by analyzing "The Declaration of Independence."

Big Idea

"The Declaration of Independence" led to our national freedom, but was it effective?

Do Now: Ad Inference

10 minutes

Students see a large advertisement on the board when they walk in today (mine was for Hoover vacuums, but any advertisement will work). I ask student to list what they see (very literally--if the advertisement features a cow, they should list cow) and then explain why, by their best guess, the advertisement creator included each element they listed.

After attendance, I call on students who tend not to speak for what they see on the advertisement (an easy task to ease into participation). Then, I ask for volunteers to explain why each item is there. My students make note of every small detail on the ad, down to the puffy clouds in the background of the plane window. They suggest that the background looks friendly and nice to help the audience make a positive connection to the advertisement, while the message itself--Hoover vacuums are as strong as suction out a plane window--implies great strength.

After the written part of the Do Now, I challenge students: is this advertisement effective? Silence. Then, heads shake or nod.

Yes, some say, it implies how powerful the vacuums are in an amusing way.

No, some say, it's an exaggeration which, if real, could cause harm to people ("Getting sucked out a plane window would be horrible!").

With a smile, I point out that they just analyzed and evaluated a text in ten minutes--nicely done!

Analyzing and Evaluating "The Declaration of Independence"

35 minutes

Warm up done, I transition students into their main work for the day--completing their analysis and evaluation of "The Declaration of Independence." Volunteers help me pass back papers as the rest of the class pulls up notes and sharpens pencils. I go over a few reminders for everyone (claims are opinion; reword claims rather than pulling direct quotes so you should you truly understand them) and turn students loose with their solo practice.

Pencils fly furiously over paper as students get to work; I'm hardly needed as they review my notes, make changes, and continue on with the analysis. I can tell my strategy of writing questions to prompt student thinking (rather than simply making corrections on their responses) worked:

At the end of the hour, the completed assignments land in the drop box as students flee, looking much better than our first practice.

Students corrected their claims, correctly identifying central ideas to include the need for a democracy, the poor governing of the British king, and the lack of support from the people of Britain. In evaluation, students noted that the sheer number of details was effective, though some of them (particularly relating to the actions of the British people) were exaggerated. Overall, this practice is a success!