Students, working in groups, use a "paired-text" strategy to analyze letters between Abigail and John Adams and the song "The Schuyler Sisters." Students create a "third text" by creating a hypothetical conversation between Abigail Adams and Angelica Schuyler regarding political and social issues facing women in colonial America. To conclude, students will think about their third text within the context of the Declaration of Independence to discuss contradictions between the major ideas in the declaration and practices of American society both historically and currently. This lesson includes optional modifications for distance learning. Resources for use in Google Classroom are included.
How has the meaning of major ideas from the Declaration of Independence changed over time? Must groups achieve social, political, and economic rights to achieve equality?
Students listen to the song "The Schuyler Sisters" while filling out an I Think, I Wonder chart.
Working in collaborative groups, students will analyze two texts using a "paired text" strategy.
Students share out their responses for Text 1 and Text 2 and, lastly, their response to the two texts together regarding political and social issues facing women in colonial America.
Student groups will reflect on phrases in the Declaration of Independence such as "all men are created equal" and generate questions based on new knowledge from the paired texts.
Student responses to "justify it" statements will serve as an evaluation.
Link to "The Schuyler Sisters" YouTube video
Internet access (to play video)
You Want a Revolution, I Want a Revelation handout (attached)
Beginning with slide 3, before the song is played, the teacher will ask students to create an I Notice, I Wonder chart in their notebooks. Next, give students the "You Want a Revolution, I Want a Revelation!" handout. Students will use this handout to follow along with the lyrics as "The Schuyler Sisters" from the musical Hamilton plays. On slide 4, access the song through YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0CEpopRyXc
After students have listened to the song, put them in groups of two to four to share what they wrote in the I Notice, I Wonder chart (in the next exercise, they will be in groups of four, so that may influence how many students you group together in this activity). Together, student groups need to decide on one "I notice" and one "I wonder" to share with the class.
Once student groups have shared out, move to slide 5 and share the lesson's essential questions with students explaining that throughout the lesson they will be exploring how the meaning of the major ideas in the Declaration of Independence has changed over time and whether groups must achieve political, social, and economic rights to achieve equality.
Next, introduce the class to the paired-text activity. They will be doing this activity to begin thinking about how ideas in the Declaration of Independence have been interpreted over time by different groups of people and the implications of these interpretations.
Students should now be put in collaborative groups of four. Once in these groups, direct students to the "You Want a Revolution, I Want a Revelation!" handout. Explain to students that they are going to work together to analyze two texts that have been paired to broaden their thinking about the ideas in the Declaration of Independence and how these ideas have been interpreted. This part of the lesson is an adaptation of the Paired Text H-Chart strategy and the New York Times Paired Text strategy.
Move to slide 6 to introduce Text 1—a series of letters between Abigail and John Adams. Students should read the letters together.
Next, students will work together to answer question one: Based on Text 1, create a summary statement that describes the general point that Abigail is trying to make to her husband, John. Identify and explain two words or phrases from the text to serve as evidence to support your response. Once student groups have finished, have small groups elect a group speaker and share out their answers to the first question.
When students have finished discussing the first text, move to slide 7 ask student groups to move to text 2—lyrics from the song "The Schuyler Sisters" that they listened to at the beginning of class.
After reviewing these lyrics as a group, students will create a response to question two on the handout: Based on the lyrics above, create a summary statement that describes the general point that Angelica is making in "The Schuyler Sisters." Identify and explain two words or phrases from the text to serve as evidence to support your response.
Once students groups have finished, have small groups elect a different speaker to share out their answers to the second question.
Next, move to slide 8 and direct students, still working in their student groups, to the "Two Texts Together" section of the handout on the last page. Explain to students that they will be taking the knowledge they have gained from both texts to create a "third text" which, in this lesson, will be a short hypothetical conversation between Abigail Adams and Angelica Schuyler about political and social issues facing women in colonial America. Students should reference evidence from each text in the conversation they create. Once student groups have finished their conversations, two people from each group, one playing Angelica and one playing Abigail, will share out with the whole class.
After all of the conversations have been shared move to slide 9 and ask students to summarize, as a whole class, what political and social issues were mentioned in the conversations. You can make this list on the board. Slide 10 has possible student responses that you can share with the class once they have shared all of their ideas.
Move to slide 11 and ask students to consider: "Based on your knowledge of the Declaration of Independence, what questions do these texts raise for you, especially considering phrases like 'all men are created equal,' all people are 'endowed with certain inalienable rights,' governments derive their power from the 'consent of the governed,' and are to 'protect these rights,' etc?"
Each group should generate at least two questions. While students generate their questions, make a chart on the board (or on a large sheet of paper that can be hung up) titled "Questions the Texts Raise about the Declaration of Independence." Have student groups write their questions on a Post-it (one question per Post-it). When student groups present their questions, have them put their Post-it on the class chart.
At this point, facilitate a discussion based on student questions to, ultimately, make the point that there are contradictions in the words of the Declaration of Independence and the practices of American society in 1776 and give examples.
Move to slide 12 to further extend the conversation to consider the following: How do we interpret the words of the Declaration of Independence now? Have interpretations of these words changed over time? Are there still contradictions between these words/ideas that are foundational for our nation and the realities of American society today? Examples?
The next activity will use a modified version of the Justified True or False strategy to evaluate student learning. To begin, move to slide 13, give students the following statements:
The words and ideas in the Declaration of Independence were interpreted in the same way in 1776 as they are today.
The practices of American society contradicted the ideas in the Declaration of Independence in 1776, but those ideas are completely realized today.
Ask students to work individually to first decide whether each statement is true or false and then justify their answers with three or four sentences citing evidence from the lesson to support their reasoning. Once they've completed this, have students share out and/or collect student responses to evaluate understanding.
Students will most likely say statement one is false and might mention that, in 1776, most founders and the larger society had a narrow interpretation of who was included in the Declaration of Independence (e.g., only land-owning, typically wealthy, white men), whereas today, we have a broader, more inclusive interpretation. Students will most likely say statement two is false as well, noting that there were contradictions between the words in the "Declaration of Independence" and practices in colonial society in 1776 (e.g., exclusion of women, people of color, and the poor from political, social, and economic equality) and that while we have made progress in redressing these issues, there is still work to be done. Students might note current examples such as racism, discrimination, economic inequities, and so on.
Adams, A., & Adams, J. (1776). The Adams papers: Digital editions (Volume 1). Retrieved from http://www.masshist.org/publications/apde2/volume-toc?series=afc&vol=1
K20 Center. (n.d.). I notice, I wonder. strategies. Retrieved from https://learn.k20center.ou.edu/strategy/d9908066f654727934df7bf4f507d1a7
K20 Center. (n.d.). Justified true or false. Strategies. Retrieved from https://learn.k20center.ou.edu/strategy/d9908066f654727934df7bf4f507a9cc
K20 Center. (n.d.). Paired text H-chart. Strategies. Retrieved from https://learn.k20center.ou.edu/strategy/d9908066f654727934df7bf4f5060ba6
Miranda, L. -M. (2015). The Schuyler sisters [Liner notes]. Atlantic Records. Retrieved from http://atlanticrecords.com/HamiltonMusic/
Renée Elise Goldsberry - Topic. (2015). The Schuyler sisters. YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZdrzOdd8Kw
New York Times Paired Text Handout: https://static01.nyt.com/images/blogs/learning/pdf/2013/13-1553_K12_CompareText_LearnNet_RP3-f.pdf