Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Words Frankly Spoken

Joy Rowell


Students visit appropriate Web sites to discover quotes from Franklin's [Poor Richard's Almanac]. Working in pairs, they choose three quotes on which to elaborate and then write two original quotes.


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.


-Background information on Benjamin Franklin
-List of the beginnings of common quotes that students will finish orally
-Computer access
-Copies of some of Franklinís Poor Richardís quotations
-Pens or pencils


1. Locate background information on Benjamin Franklin.
2. Locate copies of Benjamin Franklin's [Poor Richard's Almanac].
3. Visit appropriate Web sites mentioned in this unit. The complete works of Franklin are available online.
4. Post appropriate Web sites.
5. Arrange for computer access.
6. Arrange for the typing of the class lists.


1. Begin by giving some background information on Benjamin Franklin. Discuss his many contributions to early America. Begin the following quotations and allow students to finish them and discuss what each one means.
Early to bed, early to rise makes a manÖ (healthy, wealthy and wise)
A penny saved isÖ (a penny earned)
A stitch in timeÖ (saves nine)
He that lieth down with dogs, Ö (shall rise up with fleas)

2. Provide copies of Franklinís quotations and/or access to computers for research to allow time for students to read and to consider various quotations. Students read quotes, take notes, and paraphrase their favorites.

3. Students work in pairs as they choose three quotations on which to elaborate.

4. Students work together to write a five paragraph essay on the three quotations selected.

5. Students edit and produce final documents.

6. Students then create two modern day aphorisms.

7. The teacher then combines the aphorisms into one list for distribution to the class.


There are four assessments for this project. Share the criteria with the students prior to the activity.

I. Informal Evaluation of Shared Group Responsibility
Checklist (Total Points Possible - 25)

Student Name________________________
Partner's Name_______________________

Rank your partner on a scale of one to five in the following areas:
*1 = Not at all
*2 = Just barely
*3 = Half as much as I did
*4 = We shared equal responsibility on the assignment.
*5 = He/she did more than I did.

Circle the appropriate response.

1. My partner contributed to our project during the research phase.
1 2 3 4 5

2. My partner contributed to our project in the selection process of the three aphorisms that we would elaborate upon.
1 2 3 4 5

3. My partner contributed to our project on the creation of our own two new aphorisms.
1 2 3 4 5

4. My partner contributed to our project during the preĖwriting phase of our five paragraph essay on three of Franklinís aphorisms.
1 2 3 4 5

5. My partner contributed to our project during the editing and production of our final document.
1 2 3 4 5

Total Points ________

II. Expository Paragraphs. A rubric is provided to assess the production of a correctly edited final document which effectively communicates the student's ideas in a focused, insightful essay.


Total Points possible - 50
(5=Perfect! 4=Almost Perfect 3=Fair 2=Incompletely done 1=Whoops! We forgot that!)

1. Opening paragraph introduces the three aphorisms.
5 4 3 2 1

2. Second paragraph elaborates on the first aphorism mentioned.
5 4 3 2 1

3. Third paragraph elaborates on the second aphorism mentioned.
5 4 3 2 1

4. Fourth paragraph elaborates on the third aphorism mentioned.
5 4 3 2 1

5. Fifth paragraph provides a summary of Franklinís three aphorisms.
5 4 3 2 1

6. The final document uses correct capitalization, spelling, punctuation and sentence formation.
5 4 3 2 1

7. The essay remains focused on the subject.
5 4 3 2 1

8. The transitional devices are present and effective.
5 4 3 2 1

9. The organizational pattern is apparent and effective.
5 4 3 2 1

10.The essay is legible.
5 4 3 2 1

III. Production of two modern day aphorisms would give participants up to 10 points for each aphorism based on the following criteria.

1-2 points = a saying that makes no sense whatsoever
3-4 points= an aphorism that is somewhat logical
5-6 points= an aphorism that is a complete and sensible statement with grammatical or spelling errors
7-8 points= an aphorism that is a complete and sensible statement with no grammatical or spelling errors
9-10 points= an aphorism that is clear, witty, and original.

IV. Up to five points could be awarded through the use of an informal teacher assessment based on each studentís participation during the introductory discussion and continued involvement during the team project.


An extension could be the evaluation of the complete list of the class aphorisms.

This also provides excellent material for a bulletin board.

Web Links

Web supplement for Words Frankly Spoken
The Franklin Institute Online

Web supplement for Words Frankly Spoken
Benjamin Franklin: A Documentary History

This site contains Franklinís complete works.
An Enlightened American

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