Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Independent - To Be or Not Top Be - Day 1, Lesson 1: I Pledge Allegiance!

Katie Koehnemann
Bay District Schools


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.


The student reads and organizes information from multiple sources for a variety of purposes (for example, supporting opinions, predictions, and conclusions; writing a research report; conducting interviews; taking a test; performing tasks).

The student extends the expectations of the fourth grade with increasingly complex reading selections, assignments and tasks (for example, differences between fact, fiction, opinion).

The student uses strategies to speak clearly, (for example, rate, volume, phrasing, enunciation).

The student prepares for and gives presentations for specific occasions, audiences, and purposes (including but not limited to informational or imaginative presentations, research reports, extemporaneous talks).

The student uses visual aids, technology, or demonstrations to support a presentation.

The student uses nonverbal strategies to engage an audience (for example, eye contact, gestures, posture, facial expressions).

The student understands reasons Americans and those who led them went to war to win independence from England.

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).


-For all lessons, transparencies that can be run through a printer
-Access to a color printer
-Bulletin board (or wall space) of your choosing for the Colonial American wall flag (Directions in Associated File. If you choose to follow the directions according to size, you will also need heavy gauge wire for hanging it and a friend to help. The size, however, is entirely up to you.)
-Two charts. One KWL chart titled, I Pledge Allegiance, and one chart without heading.
-Marker to write on the charts
-The guiding question: Independent – To Be or Not To Be? printed on a strip of paper
-Unit standards printed and suitable for posting in the room
-Ready-made poster with these options listed: a puppet show presentation, a speech, a song they have written, a poem they have written, graphic presentation, or a reenactment/conversation with one other student
-Calendar of Short Subjects (In Associated File) (See Extensions/ Modifications section)
-Diagnostic assessment, Independent – To Be or Not To Be? for each student (See Extensions)
-Independent – To Be or Not To Be? answer key (See Extensions)
-Bookmark on computer(s) suggested Websites (See Weblinks)
-Notebook for each student (See Teacher Preparation, #6)
-Notebook cover sheet for each student (In Associated File)


1. Time for preparation may be extensive at the beginning. As a timesaver, a description of things that can be done in advance is provided. See the details at the beginning of the Unit Plan Overview.
2. Prepare the flag bulletin board or wall display. (Directions in Associated File)
3. Bookmark selected Websites on computers that will be used during this unit.
4. Print hard copies of the Website text that you intend to use.
5. Gather tokens. Use whatever works for you. Some suggestions are paper circles, paper clips, play money coins, round metal slugs from a construction job site, or shapes cut with the Ellison machine. You will need lots of them.
6. Have a notebook for each student. NOTE: One suggestion is that a class set of ring binders be purchased. A wise investment, these can be used over and over again by simply changing the cover sheet. They are great organizers and if well cared for, will last for many years. If ordering a class set, one suggestion is one-inch (1”) white or black binders with the clear plastic window on the cover. Your school office will know where to order these.
7. Prepare a KWL chart, a chart showing the performance options, and have one plain chart.
8. Write out the guiding question and standards on a sentence strip.
9. Have a place in the room to post the guiding question and the standards for the duration of the unit.
10. Make a copy of the Short Subject calendar items. (In Associated File)
11. Print an Independent – To Be or Not To Be? cover sheet for each student.
12. Copy the Independent – To Be or Not To Be? diagnostic assessment for each student.
13. Copy the Independent – To Be or Not To Be? diagnostic answer key for the teacher.


STRATEGY: You will do some performing during the brainstorming session described in steps 1 and 2. Unannounced to them, you will be introducing students to various verbal and non-verbal speaking skills, by demonstrating extremes as you speak. Perform the extremes naturally. Suggestions are to speak rapidly, very slowly, too soft, too loud, monotone, looking up at the ceiling, use flagrant gestures, and no gestures at all. Address as many of the strategies on the speech rubric as possible. (Volume, rate, phrasing, enunciation, posture, eye contact, gesture, and facial expressions) As you do these verbal and non-verbal speaking blunders, students should point them out to you. Expect them to tell you that they can’t hear you, that you are too loud, etc. Every time they point out one of these speech blunders, tell them you will write it down to help you remember it and record it on the unmarked chart.

1. A great time to start this unit would be when you normally do the pledge to the flag. Probably, this is the first thing in the morning, and you can have the students pledge to the large American flag created for the bulletin board (Instructions in Associated File). After the pledge, lead students into the lesson by asking these questions: What significance is the flag? Where did the flag come from? What is the meaning of the flag? Why do we pledge to it?

2. Have students think about our most important national holiday, the Fourth of July, by reflecting about Fourth of July celebrations they have had with their families.

3. Move to the bulletin board flag. Formative assessment occurs as students name historical symbols of celebration. Listen for and guide students to name: American flags, fireworks, the national anthem, red, white, blue, patriotic songs, freedoms celebrated, Constitution, forefathers, Declaration of Independence, parades, and a national holiday of celebration. Record each of these items on the stripes of the flag, one per stripe.

4. Direct students to review the list of historical symbols with these thoughts in mind. Is it fact or opinion that these are historical national symbols, and why do you think as you do? After allowing for sufficient time to process, call on various students to share their ideas. Formative assessment occurs as students respond with their ideas and their reasoning. Correct response should be that these are fact because they are what we celebrate and each is representative of things that actually occurred in our nation's fight for independence.

5. Follow the same procedure as in steps 3 and 4, only this time students will be formatively assessed on naming traditional symbols of celebration. These will be things, such as watermelon, going to the beach, vacations, picnics, etc. Record one item named on each star of the flag. Students should recognize these as opinions because the way citizens celebrate is a demonstration of their opinions of the best ways to celebrate the Fourth.

6. Explain to students that you need for them to record what they already know about these historical symbols, where they originated, and what significance they have. To do that, they will take a pre-test to find out what they already know about our most important national holiday.

7. Hand out to each student a copy of Independent – To Be or Not To Be? Pre-test. Reassure them this will not be graded, but that it is only a measuring tool to see what they already know. Students are to complete the diagnostic assessment independently and without assistance.

8. As students finish, they are to put away pens and pencils. With input from students, complete the class KWL chart. Students use their diagnostic assessment as a reference for adding items to the K and W portions of the chart. Diagnostic assessment occurs as the K and W portion of the chart is created from student responses. Special note should be made of misconceptions, understandings, and gaps in knowledge with regards to the language of the standards.

9. Collect and review student diagnostic assessments for lesson planning purposes. Special note should be made of misconceptions, understandings, and gaps in knowledge with regards to the language of the standards. File until the unit is completed.

10. Introduce the Unit Plan title: Independent – To Be or Not To Be? Tape this guiding question to the wall. Explain to students that this will be the question they will be seeking an answer to as they study significant events and reasons that led Americans to declare their independence from England. They will be listening, gathering facts, and forming personal opinions about the Colonials' actions and reactions to British rule.

11. Post the standards so that students will know on what they will be assessed. Read each aloud to students. When speech standards are introduced, explain they will be expected to stand in front of the class and present their opinions in response to the guiding question. Explain they may accomplish this through any one of a number of ways. Hang the ready-made poster of options on the wall. Students can choose one of those listed or use any other way they might think of themselves.

12. Hand unit notebooks out to students. Have them write their names on the cover sheet. Explain to students that the notebook is to help organize information and work needed to successfully complete the unit.

13. Tell students there will be tokens given out. Entice them with the idea there may be an auction at the end of the unit, and class tokens will be their purchasing power. Like earning a living and being paid with money, they are to accumulate as much money or tokens as possible.

14. Finish by complimenting them on their good job in class, and pay students with tokens. Be liberal with the tokens over the next couple of days. You want to build up their bank accounts quickly so that when you start taxing them in another day or so, they will have plenty to pay to the British government. Payment does not have to just relate to unit work. A quiet line could earn them some pay, as well as payment for good lunchroom manners.
CLARIFICATION: I am very much against external prizes, rewards, or payment for what is expected of students. Personally, I do not believe in tokens, stickers, points, treats, or anything else other than the intrinsic reward of obedience and a job well done. However, in this particular unit I have incorporated a hardy and blatant use of tokens only to allow the students to experience taxation without representation. There is no auction at the end of the unit. They will be aggravated and frustrated as their money is collected through taxes, and they will think it not fair that they had no vote, no say, and no warning of the taxes as they are imposed. In the end, they will be tickled to realize they have been set up to experience taxation without representation, and I guarantee they will have a greater understanding of what it means.


Standards are diagnostically assessed as students are administered Independent – To Be or Not To Be written assessment, and as they use their performance on the test to complete the unit KWL chart.


1. Lessons may reflect modifications of, but are designed in conjunction with, the Reading Framework approach to classroom instruction and may be adapted to the [Four Block Classroom] by Patricia Cunningham. It is suggested that you have a historical fiction, or non-fiction book selected for use with the Shared Reading Component. Also, for the Self-Selected Reading Component, you will need to have appropriate period books available for which students to choose.
2. Salute to Old Glory (In Associated File), is a wealth of supplemental activities that can be used a variety of ways for enhancing, enriching, and extending unit content. Hands on projects, suggestions for classroom guests, and technology sites are just a few of the ideas that will gift-wrap student learning with fun and entertainment! Created to tap multiple intelligences, they include poetry, music, writing, drawing, design, and more. The ideas and activities listed can be used with learning centers, groups, or individuals. They are non-graded, however, observing student products and participation, offers a menagerie of venues for formatively assessing student understanding of unit content. A great time! Don’t miss it! Enjoy!
3. Liberty and Justice for All is an interactive Student Web Lesson. The lesson addresses this standard: the student understands reasons Americans and those who led them went to war to win independence from England.
(See link to unit at the top of this page.)
4. United We Stand is an interactive Student Web Lesson. The lesson addresses this standard: the student knows significant events between 1756 and 1776 that led to the outbreak of the American Revolution. (See link to unit at the top of this page.)
5. Short Subjects is a calendar of daily activities (In Associated File) that are designed to be short, quick, something to do as you enter the room in the morning, items that will keep students focused on the unit and aid in the learning of the content and mastery of the selected standards. Each intelligence and learning style has been addressed on the calendar of activities. One suggestion is to post the calendar in the room. Students complete the short subjects for each day. Or an alternate idea is to write the next day’s short subjects on the board each afternoon, ready for students as they enter the classroom in the next morning.
6. The Beacon Unit Plan associated with this lesson can be viewed by clicking on the link located at the top of this page or by using the following URL: Once you select the unit’s link, scroll to the bottom of the unit plan page to find the section, Associated Files. This section contains links to the Unit Plan Overview, Diagnostic and Summative Assessments, and other associated files, if any.

Web Links

Every flag you can imagine.
The History of the Flag

This is a wonderful site. It is also listed in Salute to Old Glory in the Associated File, a listing of sites and special activity suggestions and ideas.
The Unofficial American Home Page

A colorful site. It is also listed in Salute to Old Glory in the Associated File, a listing of sites and special activity suggestions and ideas.
Historical Flags of the United States

Scroll down a little more than half way to find documents pertinent to this unit, for example, the Stamp Act, Sugar Act, etc.
The American Colonists Library

Offers extensive materials to assist your unit study. At this site be sure to click on Teacher’s Guide for a helpful list of information, also click on Causes of the War for links to each event.
The Revolutionary War

Click the Table of Contents for lots of information and links.
Dedicated to the Flag of the United States of America

From this site, click on Background to the Campaign. The first page gives an overview of the events leading to the Revolutionary War, the second is background on the British, and the third is background on the Americans. On each of these pages at the top left click play a tune to hear a sample of period music. This site offers student friendly, easy read, large print articles.
The Philadelphia Campaign 1777

At this site, in the left hand column, click Colonial America. Scroll down to French and Indian War (#19). Click View in Text. This site offers questions about the French and Indian War with links to sites where students can find the answers.
Colonial America

At this site, in the left hand column, click American Revolution. Numerous tracks (Bunker Hill, Stamp Act, Concord, Lexington, Boston Tea Party, Boston Massacre, and more) are offered. Click the track you are interested in. Next click View in Text. Each track offers questions and mini assignments with links for finding the answers.
The American Revolution

Don’t miss The Road to Revolution, a Revolutionary war game. It is fabulous with sound effects (have students wear headsets), film clips, links, instant feedback, and side trips to learn more. Also, click on Chronicle of the Revolution. From here there are various links. From the timeline you can find articles on events such as the Boston Tea Party and more.
Liberty! The American Revolution

Attached Files

Wall flag, Notebook cover, Short Subjects     File Extension: pdf

Salute To Old Glory p. 1     File Extension: pdf

Salute To Old Glory p. 2-4     File Extension: pdf

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