Author:
Melody Casey
Subject:
English Language Arts, Social Studies
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Level:
Upper Primary
Grade:
5
Tags:
  • IRPSS
    License:
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial
    Language:
    English

    Education Standards

    The Founding Fathers and Mothers: How'd They Get That Way?

    The Founding Fathers and Mothers: How'd They Get That Way?

    Overview

    This lesson gives learners the chance to delve deeply in to the lives of the Founding Fathers and Mothers to discover the personal characteristics that enabled them to become leaders and revolutionaries. This would be a good assignment for students who compact out of a portion of a unit on early American history. This lesson was developed by NCDPI as part of the Academically and/or Intellectually Gifted Instructional Resources Project. This lesson plan has been vetted at the state level for standards alignment, AIG focus, and content accuracy.

    Lesson Overview

    Brief Description of Lesson/Task/Activity: This lesson gives learners the chance to delve deeply in to the lives of the Founding Fathers and Mothers to discover the personal characteristics that enabled them to become leaders and revolutionaries. This would be a good assignment for students who compact out of a portion of a unit on early American history.

    Time Frame: 3-4 class periods

    Type of Differentiation for AIGs:

    • Enrichment

    Adaptations for AIGs:

    • Content

    Explanation of How Resource is Appropriate for AIGs: Gifted learners benefit from studying people who have made differences in particular fields. This lesson gives these learners a chance to study individuals deeply with an eye toward discovering the personal traits that prepared them for leadership as well as how they might have developed those traits.

    Needed Resources/Materials: Print and online resources related to the lives of particular Founding Fathers and Mothers: See the list of and information about the Founding Fathers at http://www.constitutionfacts.com/us-founding-fathers/about-the-founding-fathers/

    TEACHER NOTES: It’s important to note that historians do not agree as to whom the term “Founding Fathers” includes. This lesson takes one particular view (see the website cited above) but can be expanded to be more inclusive depending on the needs and interests of the students.

    Stage 1: Engage

    Pose the following question: Who are the Founding Fathers and Mothers? Accept and discuss student responses, and note specific names on the board.

    Explain that historians do not agree as to who should be included in the Founding Fathers. Some say that the group encompasses the framers of the US Constitution. Others say that it also includes the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Still others say that the group is comprised of individuals who had a significant impact on the philosophy behind and the development of the Constitution. One researcher even provided a list of only 7 Founding Fathers. Other lists are much longer, including all people who fought for independence. Point out that the term “founding father” did not come into existence as we understand it today until 1916 when Warren G. Harding used it in a speech at the Republican National Convention.

    Ask: What does the term “founding father” or “founding mother” imply? Which individuals do you think should definitely be included in the group? Why?

    Assign the students to small groups (no more than 4 students per group). Each group should brainstorm the personal qualities that they think would enable someone to become a leader and a revolutionary. To get them started, it may help to pose these questions:

    • Who do you know who is a strong leader? What characteristics does he or she exhibit?
    • What does it take to enact societal/cultural/political change? What personal qualities are needed? 

    Bring the students together as a whole group to share their thinking, and ask: Where do these personal qualities come from? How do they develop? Be sure to post the personal qualities that they come up with so that everyone can see them for the remainder of the lesson.

    Stage 2: Elaborate

    Tell the students that they will each be conducting research about a particular Founding Father or Mother with the goal of learning as much as possible about that person (If students will benefit from working in pairs, they may do so.). Point out their research should not focus on their individual’s whole life. Rather, the students will focus their research on the following questions (post for all to see):

    • Which of the personal qualities of a leader/revolutionary did this Founding Father or Mother possess? 
    • How do we know that he/she possessed these qualities?
    • What early life experiences enabled him/her to develop these qualities?
    • Who in his life helped him develop these qualities?
    • How did this person’s leadership qualities impact his or her actions as a Founding Father or Mother?

    Provide the students with a list of Founding Fathers and Mothers, and let each student choose one to research. Students should take notes as they conduct their research, and they will create the following products:

    • A short True/False activity (5-7 items) about their Founding Father/Mother for their peers to complete later in the lesson
    • A short written vignette that answers one or more of the research questions
    • A diagram or chart that answers one of more of the research questions

    When students have completed their research and products, provide time for them to share their learning with one another. This can be done whole group but would likely be more engaging in smaller groups (for example, “poster presentation style” with only 2-3 students sharing at a time.). Students should be given a simple graphic organizer on which they can take notes as they learn about each Founding Father and Mother. This organizer can encompass the research questions (for example, a column for each question).

    Stage 3: Evaluate

    With the whole group, review the personal qualities of the Founding Fathers/Mothers. Ask the students to rank order the top five. Give them time to discuss and debate until they come to a consensus. It may help to give them a time limit and to ask them consider which qualities were demonstrated most fully by many or most of the Founding Fathers/Mothers. Listen for the students’ abilities to state their opinions clearly and justify them with accurate facts and details. Encourage all students to participate in the discussion.

    Pose the following types of questions:

    • Are the qualities that the Founding Fathers/Mothers possessed desirable ones? Should we want people to demonstrate them? Why or why not?
    • If these are desirable qualities, how can we ensure that people have the opportunity to develop them?
    • Based on the lives of the Founding Fathers/Mothers, what can we do today to ensure that all children can develop leadership qualities? 
    • What types of support and people do we need in our lives in order to develop these qualities?
    • How can the development of these qualities impact our society as a whole?

    TEACHER NOTES: As an optional activity, students may write about how they themselves embody the personal qualities of the Founding Fathers/Mothers and how they themselves have been able to develop them.