Examining the American War for Independence (Primary Source Analysis and Social Media)
1 Prior Steps
The main activity will follow a discussion on colonial America (in which we will examine the mutually beneficial relationship which existed between the colonists and England) prior to the Revolutionary War.
2 Primary Source Analysis
Explain to the students that we will be examining documents related to this time period.
Each student will be given a copy of the “Declaration of Independence” primary source document to analyze.
Using the “Primary Sources Analysis” document (available on the Library of Congress website), students will record observations, reflections, and questions.
First individually, students will examine the document and record their observations, reflections, and questions on their Primary Sources Analysis document. Next, they will share within their small groups and add any additional items that came up in the discussions that they want to record. Finally, students will have the opportunity to share their thoughts as a whole class. Questions that will be particularly emphasized by the teacher include:
- What is the purpose of this text?
- Who created it?
- Who do you think was its audience?
- What was going on at the time this was created?
- What questions do you have after examining this document?
Next, students will be asked do another reading of this document using the “Reading Like a Historian” framework (specifically the “Contextualizing” and “Close Reading” steps of the process) using the following questions:
- What is the author’s point of view?
- What claims does the author make?
- What evidence does the author use to support those claims?
3 Informal Assessment - Tweet
As an informal assessment, students will create a 140-character or less summary (Tweet) of the main idea of the Declaration of Independence that would be helpful and descriptive enough to help a classmate in another teacher’s history class to do well on his or her own exam on the topic.
4 Chain of Events - Primary and Secondary Source Analysis
Students will next be given a number of supporting primary and secondary sources related to this time period (timeline, letters, images) in which to gain more context of the events surrounding the decision to declare independence and go to war with the British Empire. As they analyze these documents in their groups, they will be discussing possible answers to the following questions:
- Why did the American colonists rebel against England?
- What (if anything) could have prevented the colonists from declaring independence and going to war with the British Empire?
5 Culminating Activity - Fakebook Project
Using Classtools.net's "Fakebook" website, each student will represent a revolutionary figure. They will create a “Facebook” page from the perspective of that revolutionary figure, including biographical information, and interactions between other historic figures of this period. “Status Updates” will serve to reflect major events that occurred during the years leading to the American War for Independence (1763-1776) and reactions to them. In addition, students will be responsible for communicating with the facilitator (Mr. Senge) as they answer overarching questions about the political, economic, geographic and social issues during the years of 1763-1776.
Many of today’s revolutions are being coordinated using Facebook, Twitter, and other social media tools. By examining a historic revolution (the American Revolution), students will gain a greater understanding of not only the people, battles, and events of this time period, but also make connections to how social media and interconnectedness of the modern world has forever changed how people and nations seek change to real (or perceived) political and social oppression.
Students will also use the EARS note-taking system to gather information for their historical figure. This system allows students to demonstrate their understanding and analysis of research materials through Evidence, Analysis, Relevance, and Source.
Link to "American Revolution Fakebook Project" instructions