Perspectives on the American Revolution: Building Background Knowledge | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA G4:M3:U1

Perspectives on the American Revolution: Building Background Knowledge

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In this unit, students explore colonial perspectives on the Revolutionary War. They begin by hearing a read aloud of Colonial Voices: Hear Them Speak, which outlines the outbreak of the Boston Tea Party from multiple perspectives. Students then read and analyze short informational texts pertaining to some of the perspectives they heard in Colonial Voices: Hear Them Speak to build background knowledge about the American Revolution and the reasons colonists became either Patriots who fought for independence or Loyalists who fought to remain a part of Great Britain. For the mid-unit assessment, students research using a new informational text in order to write an informative paragraph about who Patriots were and what they believed.

In the second half of the unit, students zoom in to read about different groups within the Loyalists and Patriots. They read about African American slaves and Native Americans, about their contributions to the American Revolution, and about the way they were treated after the revolution. As students read these informational texts, they determine the main idea and analyze the overall structure before summarizing the texts. For the end of unit assessment, students read a new informational text, determine the main idea and structure, and write a summary of the text.

Big Ideas & Guiding Questions

  •  How did the American Revolution and the events leading up to it affect the people in the colonies?
  • The American Revolution resulted in the United States of America becoming a new country with independence from Britain.
  • The American Revolution, like many wars, divided people: brother against brother, mother against daughter, neighbor against neighbor.
  • American colonists had different perspectives on fighting for independence from Britain.

The Four T's

  • Topic: perspectives on the American Revolution
  • Task: Students read a new informational text and answer questions about it. They also research and write a paragraph (mid-unit assessment). Students read and summarize a new informational text (end of unit assessment).
  • Targets (standards explicitly taught and assessed): RI.4.1, RI.4.2, RI.4.3, RI.4.4, RI.4.5, RI.4.10, W.4.7, W.4.8, W.4.9b, L.4.1f, L.4.2b
  • Texts: Colonial Voices: Hear Them Speak, “Revolutionary War: Parts I, II, and III,” “An Incomplete Revolution,” “American Indians and the American Revolution”

Assessment

Each unit in the 3-5 Language Arts Curriculum has two standards-based assessments built in, one mid-unit assessment and one end of unit assessment. The module concludes with a performance task at the end of Unit 3 to synthesize their understanding of what they accomplished through supported, standards-based writing.

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Content Connections

This module is designed to address English Language Arts standards and to be taught during the literacy block of the school day. However, the module intentionally incorporates social studies content that many teachers may be teaching during other parts of the day. These intentional connections are described below.

College, Career, and Civic Life C3 Framework for Social Studies State Standards:

  • D2.Civ.3.3-5
  • D2.Civ.4.3-5
  • D2.Civ.12.3-5
  • D2.His.2.3-5
  • D2.His.4.3-5
  • D2.His.5.3-5
  • D2.His.12.3-5

Habits of Character/Social-Emotional Learning Focus

Central to EL Education curriculum is a focus on “habits of character” and social-emotional learning. Students work to become effective learners, developing mindsets and skills for success in college, career, and life (e.g., initiative, responsibility, perseverance, collaboration); work to become ethical people, treating others well and standing up for what is right (e.g., empathy, integrity, respect, compassion); and work to contribute to a better world, putting their learning to use to improve communities (e.g., citizenship, service).

In this unit, students work to become effective learners, developing the mindsets and skills for success in college, career, and life (e.g., initiative, responsibility, perseverance, collaboration). They collaborate and persevere as they work in pairs and small groups to read complex texts.

Students also work to become ethical people, treating others well and standing up for what is right (e.g., empathy, integrity, respect, compassion). They show respect and integrity as they engage in discussions about their research throughout the unit.

Unit-at-a-Glance

Each unit is made up of a sequence of between 5-20 lessons. The “unit at a glance” chart in the curriculum map breaks down each unit into its lessons, to show how the curriculum is organized in terms of standards address, supporting targets, ongoing assessment, and protocols. It also indicates which lessons include the mid-unit and end-of-unit assessments.

Accountable Independent Reading

The ability to read and comprehend texts is the heart of literacy instruction. Comprehension is taught, reinforced, and assessed across both components of this curriculum: module lessons and the Additional Language and Literacy block. Refer to the 4M3 Module Overview for additional information.

In this unit, students continue to follow the independent reading routines set up in Modules 1 and 2. They select new texts based on the new topic for the module, read them independently for homework and engage in frequent research reading shares during the module lessons for accountability.

Supporting English Language Learners

The Meeting Students' Needs column in each lesson contains support for both ELLs and Universal Design for Learning (UDL), and some supports can serve a wide range of student needs. However, ELLs have unique needs that cannot always be met with UDL support. According to federal guidelines, ELLs must be given access to the curriculum with appropriate supports, such as those that are specifically identified as “For ELLs” in the Meeting Students’ Needs column.

  • New: ELL supports now labeled and condensed: Beginning in Module 3, ELL supports within the Meeting Students’ Needs column are labeled and explained in detail the first time they are used. Supports repeated in subsequent lessons are also labeled but are condensed for easier reading and at times modified to provide lighter support to students. Attend to the detailed supports and labels early in the module to more easily apply them as the curriculum progresses. Note that a number of the supports suggested in Modules 3–4 may seem familiar, as they have been suggested repeatedly in Modules 1–2.
  • Prioritizing lessons for classrooms with many ELLs: To prepare for the Unit 1 assessments, consider prioritizing and expanding instruction in Lessons 3–5, 7, and 9–10, which contain the reading routines, close reads, Language Dives, and a focus on text structure. If necessary, consider placing less focus and condensing instruction in Lessons 1–2 and 8, which provide helpful background, practice, and repetition but don’t introduce as many new concepts.
  • Language Dives: All students participate in Language Dives in Lessons 5, 7, and 9. Many lessons also include optional Mini Language Dives for ELLs. These Language Dives support ELLs and all students in understanding and practicing the meaning and structures of sentences from multiple texts about the Revolutionary War. Be aware that in Modules 3 and 4, Language Dive goals remain the same: to empower students to analyze, understand, and use the language of academic sentences; however, beginning in this unit, and continuing throughout Modules 3 and 4, the Language Dive Guide and the Mini Language Dive formats have been modified. The modified format follows the Deconstruct-Reconstruct-Practice routine, which should seem familiar as a general process (see Language Dives in the Tools page). Additionally, beyond the teacher-led questions and answers as in Modules 1 and 2, there are suggested language goals that students should try to understand and apply for each chunk. Thus, this modified format goes beyond teacher-led questioning. It attempts to encourage students to take more of the lead in the conversation and build greater independence by taking an inquiry based approach to language in general, and the selected sentence in particular. Although students should briefly discuss all chunks in each Language Dive sentence, the new format invites them to slow down during one chunk, called the focus structure, to investigate and practice a particularly compelling language structure. For more context, consider reviewing the full Language Dive Guide in Lessons 5, 7, and 9 of this unit, as well as a range of questions students might ask one another in Questions We Can Ask During a Language Dive, see the Tools page.
  • Goal 4 Conversation Cues: Encourage productive and equitable conversation with Conversation Cues, which are questions teachers can ask students to help achieve four goals: (Goal 1) encourage all students to talk and be understood; (Goal 2) listen carefully to one another and seek to understand; (Goal 3) deepen thinking; and (Goal 4) think with others to expand the conversation (adapted from Michaels, Sarah and O’Connor, Cathy. Talk Science Primer. Cambridge, MA: TERC, 2012. Based on Chapin, S., O’Connor, C., and Anderson, N. [2009]. Classroom Discussions: Using Math Talk to Help Students Learn, Grades K-6. Second Edition. Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions Publications). See the Tools page for the complete set of cues. Goal 4 Conversation Cues are introduced in Lesson 1. Heightened language processing and development is a primary potential benefit for ELLs.
  • Diversity and inclusion: Investigate the routines, practices, rituals, beliefs, norms, and experiences that are important to ELLs and their families. Integrate this background into the classroom as students discuss the Revolutionary War and its impact on people living in the colonies, including African American slaves and American Indians. Be sensitive to students’ own perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences, particularly with such issues as war and slavery, and foster inclusive action by creating space for students to express their feelings about the issues embedded in the texts while being aware that these discussions may unearth trauma or social stigma. Consult with a guidance counselor, school social worker, or ESL teacher for further investigation of diversity and inclusion.
  • Complete Sentences, Fragments, and Run-ons: Encourage students to notice sentence structure throughout the unit, asking themselves the questions that have been added to the Writing Complete Sentences anchor chart to determine whether a sentence is considered complete, a fragment, or a run-on. Invite students to use key words and fragments when taking notes, but remind them that they must write in complete sentences when writing their informational paragraphs and summaries. To support this work, the whole-class Language Dive in Lesson 5 focuses on fragments, while the Language Dive in Lesson 7 focuses on run-on sentences, explicitly guiding students toward producing complete sentences and recognizing and correcting fragments and run-ons.
  • Close reading of informational text: Students participate in close reading sessions during which they have the opportunity to discuss informational texts about the Revolutionary War. The close read format supports students’ language development by providing them with opportunities to interpret and analyze the text and negotiate the meaning as they discuss the text in triads. Students complete note-catchers that organize their thinking and provide a supportive structure and focused practice for the work they will do later in the module.
  • Celebration: Celebrate the courage, enthusiasm, diversity, and bilingual assets that ELLs bring to the classroom.

Texts to Buy

Texts that need to be procured. Please download the Trade Book List for procurement guidance.


Text Quantity ISBNs
Colonial Voices: Hear Them Speak
by Kay Winters
ISBN: 978-0147511621
Divided Loyalties
by Gare Thompson
ISBN: 978-0792258674

Materials

  • Inform families in advance that students will be learning about the American Revolution, including the perspectives of African American slaves and Native Americans. Open a dialogue of how best to support students through some of the issues that the texts they read present.
  • Gather the following materials from previous modules for use in this unit:
    • Close Readers Do These Things anchor chart (begun in Module 1)
    • Working to Become Effective Learners anchor chart (begun in Module 1)
    • Academic Word Wall (begun in Module 1; added to during Work Time B)
    • Vocabulary logs (from Module 1; one per student)
    • Working to Become Ethical People anchor chart (begun in Module 1)
    • Strategies to Answer Selected Response Questions anchor chart (begun in Module 1)
    • Criteria of an Effective Summary anchor chart (begun in Module 1)
    • Informational Texts anchor chart (begun in Module 2)
    • Marking Direct Quotes handout (from Module 1)
    • Writing Complete Sentences handout (from Module 1)
    • Tracking Progress folders (from Module 1)
    • Determining the Main Idea anchor chart (from Module 2)
  • The Questions We Can Ask during a Language Dive anchor chart is introduced in this unit and referred to throughout the module and the school year.

Technology and Multimedia

  • American RevolutionAdditional reading and research: Students read additional texts and look at resources about the American Revolution. Note: Please preview before sharing with students and determine which are appropriate for this age.
  • The American Revolution, 1763–1783 - Additional reading and research: Students read additional texts and look at resources about the American Revolution. Note: Please preview before sharing with students and determine which are appropriate for this age.
  • A Guide to the American Revolution - Additional reading and research: Students read additional texts and look at resources about the American Revolution. Note: Please preview before sharing with students and determine which are appropriate for this age.
  • American Revolution - Additional reading and research: Students watch videos about the American Revolution. Note: Please preview before sharing with students and determine which are appropriate for this age.
  • Liberty! The American Revolution - Additional reading and research: Students read additional texts and look at resources about the American Revolution. 
  • American Revolution - Additional reading and research: Students read additional texts and look at resources about the American Revolution

Additional Language and Literacy Block

The Additional Language and Literacy (ALL) Block is 1 hour of instruction per day. It is designed to work in concert with and in addition to the 1-hour Grades 3–5 ELA “module lessons.” Taken together, these 2 hours of instruction comprehensively address all the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts.

The ALL Block has five components: Additional Work with Complex Text; Reading and Speaking Fluency/GUM (Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics); Writing Practice; Word Study and Vocabulary; and Independent Reading.

The ALL Block has three 2-week units which parallel to the three units of the module.

Optional: Community, Experts, Fieldwork, Service, and Extensions

Community:

Invite members of the community, family members, or teachers to come into the classroom to share their personal family histories pertaining to the American Revolution.

Experts:

  • Invite a historian with expertise on the American Revolution to come into the classroom to talk to the students about it.
  • Invite a collector of American Revolution memorabilia to bring in artifacts to the classroom to share with students.

Fieldwork:

  • Visit an American Revolution exhibition at a museum.
  • Depending on your location, visit an American Revolution historical site.

Service:

  • Share student broadsides with a local museum.
  • Create a class museum of student work products created throughout this module and invite other classes and members of the community in to visit and learn from the students.

Extension opportunities for students seeking more challenge:

Invite students to research local history relevant to the American Revolution.

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