Beacon Unit Plan Library

Independent - To Be or Not To Be

Katie Koehnemann
Beacon Learning Center (Bay District Schools)


British in their language, their laws, their customs, could the American colonists fight a war with England, their Mother Country? Why were freedom and independence so important? Take students on a journey through the historical events leading to the signing of the Declaration of Independence. This unit is designed for students to learn to make judgments and decisions based on facts, and to use informational and imaginative speech to present their personal viewpoint and opinion to others. Students experience, first hand, taxation without representation, and will develop a very real sense for the need to preserve the inherent freedoms of man. Using the American flag as a graphic organizer, students will develop a clear understanding of the actions and reactions of the American colonists to British rule and to our most important national holiday, the 4th of July. Historically significant events will be studied and organized through exploration of facts and opinions and interaction with informational text and class discussion. The unit is presented in Reading Block Framework design with integrated lessons throughout each day. There are two types of lessons in this unit. First there are numbered lessons (1,2,3, etc.). Most often, these are the lessons where the content area standards are taught. The second set of lessons is identified with letters (A, B, C, etc.). Most often, these are the lessons where the speaking standards are taught. Although this is the general rule of thumb, the learning of all the standards is intricately infused in all lessons.


The planned duration of this activity is 12 days.

Associated Files

Unit Plan Overview (PDF)File Extension:pdf

Diagnostic Assessment (PDF)File Extension:pdf

Summative Assessment A (PDF)File Extension:pdf

Summative Assessment B (PDF)File Extension:pdf

Summative Assessment C (PDF)File Extension:pdf

Lesson Plans

Day 1, Lesson 1: I Pledge Allegiance!
This is the introductory lesson to the Unit Plan: Independent To Be or Not To Be? In this lesson, national symbols of freedom and speech strategies are introduced, tokens are distributed, and the unit diagnostic is administered.

Day 1, Lesson A: View and Re-View
The elements of an oral presentation are introduced under the guise of writing a paper and presented in the form of a KWL. Students supply the details for the introduction, body, and conclusion of an oral presentation.

Day 1, Lesson B: To Arms!
Through the exploration of new vocabulary words and utilizing the KWL chart started in Lesson 2, students are introduced to the verbal and non-verbal components of an oral presentation.

Day 1, Lesson 2: Scavenger Hunt
This lesson is designed to have students seek and find and record visually, and in sequential order, thirteen significant events that led to the Americans fight for independence and thus the start of the American Revolution.

Day 2, Lesson C: Freedom of Speech
Students expand their understanding of verbal, non-verbal, and visual aid components of an oral presentation by exploring three relationships: What is it? What is it like? What is an example?

Day 2, Lesson D: Intestinal Fortitude
Through expansion of their understanding of content components, students will begin preparation for their oral presentations.

Day 2, Lesson 3: In the Course of Human Events
Building and scaffolding on scanning techniques, students locate information from teacher-selected text in search of answers and details to leading question(s) for each of thirteen events.

Day 2, Lesson E: In My Opinion . . .
Building on retelling of significant events from QAD information, students record personal reflections and opinions using the Mountains to Climb self-reflection sheet.

Day 3, Lesson F: Coming to Terms
Students will develop a better understanding of significant events and reasons leading up to the Revolutionary War through the exploration of content vocabulary.

Day 6, Lesson 4: Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
Students play a version of the game Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? as a review for knowledge and understanding of significant events, reasons leading to the American Revolution, and the difference between fact and opinion.

Day 7, Lesson 5: A Novel Idea
Students read a historical novel through a chapter-by-chapter reading, recording and re-telling presentation by small groups of students. Students have practice creating and utilizing a visual aid and the Oral Presentation Rubric.

Day 8, Lesson 6: Weave a Web of Words
Students will apply writing strategies to web their ideas and write a first draft for their summative oral presentations in which they will address the guiding question, Independent To Be Or Not To Be?

Day 9, Lesson 7: Press Conference
Working in small groups, students practice their oral presentations using their written drafts. Peer members use the Oral Presentation Rubric for assessing and giving positive and corrective feedback on the practice performance.

Day 9, Lesson 8: Assessing the Casualties
Guided reading strategies are used to understand misreads on scored content assessments and how they affect the outcome of an assessment. Students apply this information to revise presentations and develop test-taking skills.

Day 9, Lesson G: Say It Again, Uncle Sam
Students revise their oral presentation content drafts, presentation skills, and visual aids using Press Conference feedback and Content Assessment feedback.

Web Links

This is an interactive Student Web Lesson that addresses the standard SS.A.; the student understands reasons Americans and those who led them went to war to win independence from England.
Liberty and Justice for All

This is an interactive Student Web Lesson that addresses the standard SS.A.; the student knows significant events between 1756 and 1776 that led to the outbreak of the American Revolution (for example, the French and Indian War, the Stamp Act, the Boston Tea Party).
United We Stand

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