Common Sense Review
Updated August 2014

Reporting the Revolutionary War

Lessons, videos, and historic newspapers help bring history to life
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Common Sense Rating 3
  • Lesson plans use primary documents to explore issues related to the Revolutionary War.
  • Online timeline displays images and content.
  • Each lesson addresses relevant Common Core standards.
  • Links are included to videos and early newspaper articles about the American Revolution.
Students analyze primary source documents in meaningful ways, as well as apply what they've learned.
The lessons are text-heavy and may be challenging for ELL students or other struggling readers; only four lesson plans are available.
Bottom Line
A helpful resource for U.S. History teachers looking to integrate more primary-source documents into their curriculum.
Jennifer Sitkin
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

Role-playing, group discussions, and writing activities should pique students' interest. Videos and articles are scholarly; teachers may need to provide context to help students understand and make connections to the content.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 3

Lessons are easy to follow, use a variety of instructional strategies, and address relevant Common Core standards. The reading level might hinder accessibility for students in lower grade levels or struggling readers. 

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

Lesson plans include detailed procedures and all necessary materials to implement them. The site doesn't include a forum for questions about the lessons, or other help features for teachers.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Resources available through Reporting the Revolutionary War are best integrated into an existing unit on the topic. For example, the lesson plan Evaluating Civil Disobedience provides students with the opportunity to explore reactions to the Stamp Act and develop a Parliamentary Resolution. In addition to using the premade lesson plans available on the site, both teachers and students can use the mini-archive, videos, and articles as a reference to increase their own content knowledge of the Revolutionary War. Finally, while they're not required to use the materials on the site, it is recommended that teachers purchase the book, as the lesson plans highlight chapters that are aligned with the content covered in the various activities.  

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What's It Like?

Reporting the Revolutinary War is the companion website for a book of the same title. Along with information about the book, the site includes a link to an Education page containing a mini-archive, lesson plans, videos, and articles. The mini-archive has a timeline of images and links to early newspapers. Four lesson plans submitted by a high-school teacher are also provided. All four lessons give detailed instructions for implementing a variety of educational activities that incorporate early newspaper articles about the Revolutionary War. In addition, lessons are aligned to the Common Core standards for Literacy in History and Social Studies, grades 9-10. Videos are provided through a YouTube channel, and articles come primarily from the author’s site, RagLinen.

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Is It Good For Learning?

The educational resources that accompany the book, Reporting the Revolutionary War, can be useful on their own. As teachers make the shift to the Common Core, it's always helpful to come across more ways to align curriculum to the new standards. The lesson plans can be used as is, while also serving as models for different ways of using primary sources in the classroom. For example, in the Town Hall Meeting lesson plan, students read an excerpt from the Pennsylvania Gazette and then take on the role of someone living in Colonial America as they prepare for a town hall meeting about issues raised in the Gazette article. Lessons can be modified to address additional standards and assignments can be used while studying different historical events.

Students are encouraged to develop their critical-thinking, writing, collaboration, and communication skills. Although interesting to history enthusiasts, the videos and articles could be challenging to use in a general education classroom. If used, they may require extensive scaffolding, with background information and questions provided to help students understand the content.    

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