Lesson Plan

United States History - The Road to Independence

This unit of study will uncover the colonist’s bumpy “road to independence,” a road which entailed a war, a constitution, a fledgling government, and, ultimately, a new nation—Our Nation!
Stacey P.
Principal/Head of School
Classical Academy High
Escondido, CA
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My Grades 9, 10, 11, 12
My Subjects English Language Arts, Math, Social Studies

Students will be able to... 

  • State that after the French and Indian War, the British government was in great debt and wanted to control the colonies. They passed unpopular laws such as (1) Proclamation of 1763, which limited freedom by preventing colonists from moving west; (2) Sugar Act, which took away the colonists right in some cases to a jury trial; and (3) Stamp Act, which taxed colonists without their consent and interfered in the affairs of their governments.
  • List and explain the following events, which led up to the Revolutionary War: (1) Boston Massacre; (2) Boston Tea Party; (3) Intolerable Acts (Coercive Acts); (4) First Continental Congress; (5) Battle at Concord and Lexington; (6) Battle at Bunker Hill; (7) Second Continental Congress (8) Olive Branch Petition; (9) Declaration of Independence
  • State that the First Continental Congress was the first effort by the colonies to unify.
  • State that the Second Continental Congress actually began to govern the thirteen colonies and ultimately wrote the Declaration of Independence.
  • Understand that The Declaration of Independence consists of the following four parts: (1) Preamble, (2) Declaration of Natural Rights, (3) List of Grievances, and (4) Resolution of Independence.
  • Know the major events of the Revolution and their significance: Battle of Long Island, Battle of Trenton and Princeton, Battle of Saratoga, Valley Forge, Battle of Yorktown, Treaty of Paris
  • State that The Articles of Confederation, America’s first constitution, gave the central government the authority to conduct foreign affairs, maintain armed forces, borrow money, and issue currency; however, it could not regulate trade, force citizens to join the army, or impose taxes, which created a weak government unable to solve many of the new country’s problems.
  • Know the following information about the Constitutional Convention: (1) It took place in 1787 and the document was signed on September 17, 1787; (2) George Washington presided over the meetings; (3) James Madison was the author of the basic plan; (4) the Convention adopted the Virginia Plan, The New Jersey Plan, the Great Compromise, and the Three-Fifths Compromise.
Social Studies
Grades 8
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook

Activity: Assessing

Have students read the speech excerpt from Patrick Henry's "Give Me Liberty of Give Me Death." Without providing the students with the name or meaning of the excerpt, ask them to highlight and discuss key words that can help them decipher what this piece of history might explain. 

Student Instructions


No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the House. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining as I do opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony. The question before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.

Speech Delivered by Patrick Henry

March 23, 1775

2 DIrect Instruction

Have students watch "American Revolution" on BrainPOP.

Student Instructions
  • Watch the BrainPop movie American Revolution
  • Make sure to take the quiz at the end of the movie, do the “try the activity” and explore the information under “’FYI” at the bottom of the webpage.

3 Guided Practice

Divide students into small groups, called Tribes. Each tribe will work together to move through an adventure of historical times, people, and events. Groups should take at least six screenshots of important discoveries and events during their game. 

Student Instructions

Working with your tribe, discover historical characters, events, and civilizations. Each group should screenshot at least six screenshots of important discoveries and events during your game.

4 Independent Practice

Students will use a free interactive adventure game to explore the different eras of U.S. History. This assignment can be completed in a computer lab, at home, or as an individual assignment. Students should be directed to take screenshots of important events they discover during the game. The screenshots will be used to create and present the final presentation.

Student Instructions

You will be playing an interactive adventure game in the shoes of Nat Wheeler, a 14-year-old printer's apprentice in 1770 Boston. As Nat navigates the city and completes tasks, he encounters a spectrum of people living and working there when tensions mount before the Boston Massacre. Ultimately, the player determines Nat's fate by deciding where his loyalties lie. You should take at least 6 screenshots of important events during the game. You will use these screenshots to create your final presentation. 

5 Wrap Up

Free, Free to Try, Paid

Students will retell their story of United States history through the use of Animoto. Students will create a slideshow/photo presentation including their 12 screenshots and include titles and descriptions.

Student Instructions

Open the website or app Animoto. Using the free app, each student will create a 12 slideshow/photo presentation of what they learned about United States History. Each presentation should include 12 screenshots and include titles and descriptions.