Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Relating to Franklin's Age of Reason

Cheree Brown


Students keep track of five of Franklin's virtues for a week. When completed, they write a five-paragraph essay that discusses their attempt to reach moral perfection.


The student applies a variety of response strategies, including rereading, note taking, summarizing, outlining, writing a formal report, and relating what is read to his or her own experiences and feelings.

The student drafts and revises writing that: is focused, purposeful, and reflects insight into the writing situation; has an organizational pattern that provides for a logical progression of ideas; has effective use of transitional devices that contribute to a sense of completeness; has support that is substantial, specific, relevant, and concrete; demonstrates a commitment to and involvement with the subject; uses creative writing strategies as appropriate to the purpose of the paper; demonstrates a mature command of language with precision of expression; has varied sentence structure; and has few, if any, convention errors in mechanics, usage, punctuation, and spelling.

The student produces final documents that have been edited for: correct spelling; correct punctuation, including commas, colons, and common use of semicolons; correct capitalization; correct sentence formation; correct instances of possessives, subject/verb agreement, instances of noun/pronoun agreement, and the intentional use of fragments for effect; and correct formatting that appeals to readers, including appropriate use of a variety of graphics, tables, charts, and illustrations in both standard and innovative forms.


-Overhead projector
-Overhead transparency of virtue chart


1. Review each virtue and create an example for each.
2. Create the essay assignment sheet (see attachment.)
3. Create your grading criteria for the essay (may want to put this on the assignment sheet.)
4. Make photo copies of assignment sheet for each student.


1. Students need to read the selection FROM THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN before beginning this assignment.

2. You may want to conduct a discussion to make sure the students understand what virtues are and what Benjamin Franklin was trying to do with these virtues.

3. Review the thirteen virtues to make sure the students understand the meaning of each virtue.

4. Students create a chart that has six rows and eight columns. Make one of the columns larger than the other (large enough to write a word and definition in; see example in associated file.) Put an example of the chart on the overhead projector for the students to see.

5. Students need to select five of the thirteen virtues that they want to keep track of for seven days.

6. In the larger column, the student should write one virtue on each row.

7. Students should define each virtue next to the word (be sure that they are defining these virtues by what the virtues mean to them.)

8. Tell the students that they will be tracking these virtues for one week. (They will be keeping up with whether or not they can keep those virtues.)

9. During the week, the students need to put a mark on the chart for any virtue they were not able to maintain. (e.g. If a student was not able to maintain silence for one week, he should put a check mark next to the day and the virtue that he/she is not able to do.)

10. After the students have had the time to chart their virtues daily for a week, introduce the topic of the essay.

11. Go over the requirements of the essay. (see associated file: AN ESSAY RELATING TO FRANKLIN’S AGE OF REASON)

12. Allow the students to start writing the essay in class. Use this time to help them with any problems they may be having getting started.


1. Organization: Is there an introduction, body, and conclusion?
2. Introduction: Is there a thesis statement? Does the writer include Franklin’s name and a reference to “Moral Perfection?-
3. Body: Does the body contain plenty of examples, details, or reasons?
4. Conclusion: Is the opinion of the writer “summed up?- Is the introduction basically restated in this last paragraph?
5. Writing/Grammar Skills:
a) Run-ons and fragments
b) Transitional words and phrases
c) Subject and verb agreement
d) Sentence combining (sentences should not be too short.)
e) Spelling

Grading Rubric: 3 points=excellent, 2 points=pretty good job, 1 point=see me, please
Introductory paragraph
Body paragraph 1
Body paragraph 2
Body paragraph 3
Topic sentences
Supporting details
Complete Sentences
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