The Age of Revolution
Sunday, October 21, 2012
The Age of Revolution block began with a look at the impact of the Reformation and the Elizabethan Age on European culture and ways of thinking. Both the Pilgrims and the Puritans held these “reform” ideals when they left for the New World. Whether it was out of desperation, entrepreneurship or a sense for adventure, the early settlers set their sights on a new beginning. With the creation of the Mayflower Compact, they sewed the seeds of independence and took one giant step away from the Mother country.
Eighth graders can easily relate to the ideas that fueled the revolution and a hunger for independence. In this block the class explored how the original colonies were each individually formed out of very different impulses. They heard how the north quickly developed a merchant class and the country’s first major cities. In contrast, the south became primarily agrarian and built a society with a wealthy land owning class supported mostly be slavery. The injustice of the Stamp Act eventually fueled the Boston Tea Party and “taxation without representation” became the battle cry. These important incidents spoke strongly to the students because they have no tolerance for injustice and understand the issue of demanding a voice. The class heard in depth biographies of Washington, Jefferson and Franklin. They compared their backgrounds, philosophies and careers. There was a comprehensive study of the Declaration of Independence and the events that led up to its formation. They heard about the major battles of the war, the crossing of the Delaware, the winter at Valley Forge and the final fight at Yorktown. Lafayette’s role in procuring France’s aid and Von Steuben’s leadership in training the troops were both examined. The class learned about the Constitution, the three branches of government and the Bill of Rights. There was a first look at the impact of slavery in human, moral and economic terms. The block ended with an analysis of the roots of Federalist and Republican parties, comparing them to the parties of today.
Over the course of the block, the students practiced note taking skills during the daily review. They wrote comprehensive essays and creative writing pieces. They took detailed dictation and practiced a variety of language arts skills. The students drew maps, illustrations, political cartoons and portraits. There were daily debates and discussions around a variety of political, social and historical issues that were significant in both the Age of Revolution and today.