Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death

The Journey to Revolution

Susan McHale | Published: May 16th, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 8th
  • Subject Subject Social Studies
  • Course Course U.S. History
  • Time Frame Time Frame 2 class period(s)
  • Duration More 100 minutes


Students will analyze two primary sources, Patrick Henry's speech to the Virginia House of Burgesses and Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" pamphlet to understand the colonial resistance to British rule and how these primary sources influenced the American Revolution.

Essential Question(s)

How does conflict create change? How did the speeches and writings of patriots influence the call for revolution?



Students consider Patrick Henry's famous quote, "Give me liberty or give me death." They participate in a Commit and Toss activity answering the question, "What would you be willing to fight and die for?"


Students watch a short video about Patrick Henry's speech.


Students compare Patrick Henry's speech with an excerpt from Thomas Paine's "Common Sense." Students identify and compare how these two men made the case for revolution and independence from Britain.


Students choose a RAFT activity to demonstrate and apply their understanding of the primary source documents.


The T-Chart comparison of the two speeches and the RAFT writing activity will serve as assessments of this lesson.


  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • Common Sense Excerpt (attached)

  • Patrick Henry Speech Excerpt (attached)

  • T-Chart (attached)

  • RAFT Activity (attached)

  • Highlighters


25 Minute(s)

Display the essential questions for this lesson, found on slide 3 of the Lesson Slides. Tell students that we will look at how two patriots, Patrick Henry and Thomas Paine, contributed to the journey toward revolution in the American colonies.

Transition to slide 4, displaying Patrick Henry's famous quote, "Give me liberty or give me death!" Ask students to think about the quote. Give them 2-3 minutes to make their responses.

Move to slide 5 and lead the class in a Commit and Toss activity. Ask students to take out a half sheet of notebook paper and answer the question, "What would you be willing to fight and die for?" Allow a few minutes for students to write a response. Tell students to stand up, crumple their notebook paper, and toss it toward the front of the room. When everyone has tossed their paper, mix them up even more, then have students come to the front and pick up someone else's paper. Call on students to read some of the responses. After four or five responses are read aloud, have students crumple the paper and toss it to the front of the room again. Remix paper wads, have students pick up a new crumpled paper, and then ask for volunteers to read any only any new responses, ones that were not heard in the first round. Continue for one more round.


25 Minute(s)

Display slide 6 and using the T-Chart strategy, distribute the T-Chart student handout (attached). Tell students that they will be watching Patrick Henry deliver his speech to the 2nd Virginia Convention. A link to the YouTube video can be found here. The URL is also listed in resources at the end of this lesson and in the notes on slide 6. As they watch the video (which is five minutes in length), ask them to jot down on the left-hand side of the T-Chart any reasons that Henry gives the Virginia delegates to fight British rule.

Assign students to partners. After the video, have partners discuss what they wrote down on their T-Charts as Henry's reasons for fighting British rule. Ask students to add to their list any new reasons that arose from the conversation with their partner.

After partners have discussed and added reasons to their list, pass out highlighters and the written version of Patrick Henry's Speech (attached). Display slide 7 and lead a Categorical Highlighting activity. Have pairs look for any more reasons for resistance to British rule they may have missed in the video but are present in the written speech. Ask students to add these additional reasons to their T-Chart list.

Before moving on to the next activity, have partners share out some of the reasons for fighting British rule that they found either in the video or written speech.


30 Minute(s)

Tell partners they are now going to compare Patrick Henry's reasons for rebellion and resistance with Thomas Paine's writing in the Common Sense excerpt. Display slide 8, which provides further information about the publication of Paine’s famous Common Sense pamphlet.

Display slide 9 and ask partners to use the Categorical Highlighting strategy once again as they read or review together the Common Sense excerpt. Have them highlight Paine's reasons for separation from England. After highlighting, they are to jot down their ideas in the second column of the T-Chart handout.

Next, on slide 10, ask partners to also write a summary at the bottom of their T-Chart about the similarities and differences between the two primary sources. Have them share how both men influenced the road to independence from England.


20 Minute(s)

Display slide 11 and pass out the attached RAFT handout. Read aloud and explain the Roles, Audience, Format, and Topic (RAFT) choices for the RAFT activity. Ask students to each pick one of the four writing formats (letter, speech, illustration, or news report) and place themselves in the role of the writer. They will write about the topic shown and to the audience described on the handout. Students are to use their T-Chart as information for the substance of their writing.


The completed T-Chart and the RAFT writing will serve as assessments of this lesson. Collect these from students or have them submit their work to you once they have completed their tasks.