Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Resistance and Rebellion

Colonial Resistance and Movement Towards Revolution

Brandi Graham | Published: May 31st, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 8th
  • Subject Subject Social Studies
  • Course Course U.S. History
  • Time Frame Time Frame 3-4 class period(s)
  • Duration More 200 minutes


Students will analyze primary documents to better understand the colonial resistance to British rule and how this resistance influenced the American Revolution.

Essential Question(s)

How does conflict create change? How can resistance movements influence revolution?



Students will answer the question "What are examples or forms of resistance?" as a Bell Ringer.


Students will Why-Light an excerpt of Patrick Henry's speech "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" and examine Paul's Revere's "Engraving of the Boston Massacre."


Students will generate open-ended and thought-provoking questions about the colonist use of resistance techniques and their impact on the relationship between Britain and the Colonies as well as the Loyalists and Patriots. Students will use the given texts, "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" excerpt and the "Engraving of the Boston Massacre," to draw from.


Students will participate in a Socratic seminar about colonial resistance using the "Engraving of the Boston Massacre" and an excerpt of "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death."


Students will answer reflection questions about colonial resistance and connect the content and discussion to their current lives/world.


  • Writing Utensils

  • Paper

  • Highlighters

  • Handouts of Paul Revere's "Engraving of the Boston Massacre"

  • Handout of Patrick Henry's "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" excerpt

  • Handouts of Seminar Self-Evaluation Sheets

  • Handouts of Seminar Peer Evaluation Sheets

  • Handouts of the Socratic Seminar Reflection Assessment


Display slide 3 with the questions: What are some examples/forms of resistance? and the three of the four images (located under Attachments) displayed. If you choose to distribute paper copies of the photos students can view all four. These photos are examples of modern and historical acts of resistance to help students develop their answers to this first question. Students will answer the question as a Bell Ringer on paper or in a notebook. Once students have answered. Call on several students to share their answers. If students do not bring up the colonial resistance movement against the British government you can do so now, linking their prior knowledge about resistance and rebellion in the colonies to other resistance movements.

Next, display slide 4 and transition to the second question: What are some reasons that the colonies might resist British rule?

When students have completed their second Bell Ringer responses call on a few students to share their thoughts. Then, display slide 5, and transition the conversation to explain to students that throughout this lesson they should consider the following essential questions: How does conflict create change? and, how can resistance movements influence revolution?

Next, explain the Socratic Seminar process to students.

Socratic Seminar Introduction:

  1. Explain what a Socratic seminar is and its purpose. Seminars are used to give students control of their learning. They will be responsible for reading and looking at a historical document and generating thought-provoking questions. This allows the students to drive the discussion and bring in their own thoughts, beliefs, and interests that deal with a particular topic, in this case colonial resistance to British rule.

  2. Display slide 6 and show the YouTube video below and explain the key pieces to a Socratic seminar.

Prior to beginning the seminar, you will want to go over these important components on slides 7 and 8:

  • Partners: Each student will be assigned a parter. (Partners will never be in the same circle at once.)

  • Inner circle: These students are the ones who will be doing the speaking. They will be asking and responding to questions that have been generated prior to starting the seminar.

  • Outer Circle: These students will be taking notes and evaluating their partner who is in the inner circle. It is important that these students not talk and that they pay close attention to the conversation going on in the inner circle.

  • Hot Seat: There will be a dedicated seat in the inner circle for anyone to jump into. For instance, if someone from the outer circle wants to jump in quickly to offer a response to an additional question they can get in the Hot Seat.

  • Peer and Self-Evaluation Sheets: As students participate in the seminar, they will evaluate both themselves and their partners using the attached evaluation sheets. These evaluations will factor into their final grade.

  • Question List: Students will generate questions (in the EXPLAIN section) that will be used to drive conversation about colonial resistance.


Display slide 9. After going over the basics of Socratic seminars, students will be given copies of Paul Revere's "Engraving of the Boston Massacre" and Patrick Henry's "Give Me Liberty Give or Me Death" excerpt to engage in a Why-Lighting activity, annotating and analyzing what they see in the engraving and what they read in "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" excerpt.

After students are finished, bring the class together to discuss the significant parts they highlighted and discuss how these documents exhibit resistance.


After becoming familiar with the documents the students will break into groups to generate questions to use during their socratic seminar.

  1. Students will move into groups of four or five.

  2. With their groups, students should discuss what facts they found that they thought were important or signified an act of resistance.

  3. Introduce students to the construction of higher-level questions. You can use the Bloom's Taxonomy model to hep them differentiate between a lower-level and a higher-level question. (Lower-level question: Who wrote and delivered the "Give me Liberty or Give Me Death" speech? Higher-level question: How might Paul Revere's engraving of the Boston Massacre have influenced rebellion in the Colonies?)

  4. Then display slide 10. Students will generate at least two higher-level questions. They should be questions that encourage both their peers and themselves to think beyond the text and outside the box. They should also be able to draw from the text in order to support their conclusions/discussion. Example: Does resistance have to be violent?

  5. When each group has created two higher-level questions, they will add them to the class list. You can either create a list on the computer using an application such as Google Docs or simply write the questions out on the board and record them yourself. (You will be providing the question list to the students during the seminar.)

  6. After you have compiled the list as a class, you will go through them to see if there are any questions that seem similar and can be combined or if some need to be reworded for clarity. Try not to have more than 10 questions; this helps focus the students' discussion and encourages them to answer each question to the fullest extent. Too many questions can make the seminar too choppy. See attached "Example Socratic Seminar Questions."

  7. Finally, the students will take the completed class list and practice the Socratic seminar by having mini seminars within their groups. This will give students an opportunity to think of possible answers while also hearing other perspectives before they participate in the larger group seminar. In addition, they can evaluate how use their annotated notes and image to support their claims and statements.


Socratic Seminar

  1. Day before the Seminar: Show the attached video (attached again below) that depicts a seminar in action. This will give your students and idea of what to expect.

  2. Day of the Seminar: You will need to arrange your desks in two circles. These will be your inner and outer circles. You will reserve one seat in the inner circle as your hot seat.

  3. Before the Seminar: Display slide 11 and as students enter the room, give them a partner and assign one to the inner circle and one to the outer circle.

  4. Next, you will hand out the attached evaluation sheets. Have students put both their names and their partner's name on the sheet.

  5. It is important to go over some of the basic framework noted on the evaluation sheets with the students. They explain not only what the students should do during the seminar (e.g., encourage others to talk, offer insight to the questions being posed, add on to another students' responses), but they also describe what to avoid (e.g., interrupting, dominating the conversation, not making eye contact).

  6. During the seminar: Hand out copies of the question sheets that the students generated during the Explain activity. Outer-circle students should be making notes on the evaluation sheets while inner-circle students should be actively engaged in the conversation and can make notes on the given question sheets.

  7. Half way through the seminar you will switch the inner-circle and outer-circle students, giving each student a chance to participate in both facets of the seminar.

  8. Following the Seminar: Students will receive their peer evaluations back from their partner. Give students roughly 5-10 minutes to explain their evaluations. Following the explanations, students should fill out the self-evaluation.


Display slide 12. Reflection questions and evaluations:

Using their annotated text and image and their notes from the Seminar students will answer the following reflection questions. The self reflection and evaluations will serve as the assessment for this activity.

  1. Define "resistance." Next, explain why some of the colonists resisted the British government. (This response should be at least four sentences.)

  2. Explain how the Boston Massacre engraving and the Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death speech are examples of colonial resistance. Use text evidence to support your answer. (This response should be at least six sentences.)

  3. How is the concept of resistance still relevant today? Explain using an example. (This response should be at least five sentences.)