Beacon Lesson Plan Library

It's Time to Put Our Money Where Our Mouths Are

Jay Lowe


If we believe in the ideal that “All men are created equal”, why is our currency used to honor only old, white men? The students select a person they think should be honored on our currency and write a letter outlining the reasons for their choice.


The student understands the impact of significant people, events, and ideas on the development of the United States after 1880 (for example, Andrew Carnegie, Martin Luther King, the Great Depression, isolationism).

The student knows the essential ideas of American constitutional government that are expressed in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, and other writings.

The student understands the history of the rights, liberties, and obligations of citizenship in the United States (for example, rights and liberties outlined in the Bill of Rights, serving on jury duty).


-Notebook paper
-Writing utensil
-Copies of sample currency (see Associated File)
-Access to media center
-American History textbook
-White/black board or newsprint
-Pre/Post test (see Associated File)
-Currency Samples (see Associated File)
--Responsibilities of Citizens- writing rubric (see Associated File)


1. Arrange for class/classes to visit the media center. Ask media specialists to mark areas of the media center that deal with biographies/ autobiographies.
2. Copy pre/post test (one for every student - see Associated File)
3. Copy writing rubric/3 hole punched (one for every student - see Associated File)
4. Secure assess to the Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the United States, roles of the citizens in a democracy. (See web sites listed if not available in class.)
5. Copy “Responsibilities of Citizens”/3 hole punched (one for every student - see Associated File).
6. Copy “Sample Currency” sheet (class set - see Associated File).


I. Attention Getter
1. Distribute copies of Sample Currency (see Associated File).
a. Point out the individual pictured on each denomination - $1, $5, $10, $20 and/or coins. (It's highly unlikely teachers will have a $100 bill, but find out what one looks like!)
b. Ask class what characteristics each individual share (gender, age, race, etc.). Write these on the board or easel paper/newsprint.

II. Objectives
2. Explain to the class that at the conclusion of this lesson they will understand some of the rights guaranteed to them in certain American documents, the responsibilities that accompany those rights, and ways they can exercise these rights. The lesson will also demonstrate the impact that significant people have had on American development.

III. Student Learning
3. Have the class read the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, with emphasis on the statement “All men are created equal."

4. Ask if the people featured on our currency reinforce that statement.

5. Ask for suggestions on ways the class would go about changing who appears on our currency.

6. Now read the First Amendment to the Constitution, with an emphasis on the parts that deal with freedom of speech.

7. Distribute the “Roles of a Citizen” handout (see Associated File.)

8. Discuss the role of individual citizens in a representative form of government.

9. Ask each individual in class to decide on a person he/she feels should be honored on one of our denominations. It should be an individual who is representative of the concept that all Americans are created equal. Emphasize it can be ANY American that they would like to see honored in this way. (They can use their textbook to generate ideas.)

10. Explain that their assignment will be to write a letter to their U.S. Congressman, U.S. Senator, the President, or the local newspaper outlining which American they think should be honored with a picture on one of our coins and bills.

11. Hand out and review the rubric that will be used to evaluate their letters (see Associated File).

12. Visit the school media center and secure additional information on the individual the student has selected. Hand out and explain the "Research Guide" before visiting the media center (see Associated File).

IV. Practice
13. After visiting the media center, have each student begin writing the three reasons, in outline form, the American they chose should be honored.

14. Ask the students to exchange papers and have them share comments on each other’s ideas.

15. The homework assignment is to write and edit a final copy of the letter recommending consideration of the individual chosen.

V. Feedback
16. The next class period have students switch papers and use the "Writing Rubric" (see Associated File) to evaluate one-another’s letters.


1. A peer evaluation of the completed written assignment using a rubric (see Associated File)
2. Teacher Observation/Class discussion
3. Research Guide completed


Allow the students to make corrections to their letters based on the feedback they receive on the peer evaluation rubric.

Web Links

Web supplement for It’s Time to Put Our Money Where Our Mouths Are
Constitution overview

Web supplement for NARA
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)

Web supplement for It’s Time to Put Our Money Where Our Mouths Are
Declaration of Independence

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