Landmark Lessons

Find lesson plans generated by teachers who completed the Cultures of Independence workshop at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. The lessons illustrate how local and national history can be taught through a focus on a physical place and primary sources. Criteria for selecting lessons also included the teaching of historiography and, when appropriate, connections to the founding principles of the United States. Use a lesson from your region, or become inspired to create your own.

The Bill of Rights: Debating the Amendments

In this lesson, students will examine a copy of twelve possible amendments to the United States Constitution as originally sent to the states for their ratification in September of 1789. Students will debate and vote on which of these amendments they would ratify and compare their resulting “Bill of Rights” to the ten amendments ratified by ten states that have since been known by this name.

Grades 8, 9-12, 6, 7
Legislative Branch/Congress
Lesson Plans

The Constitution: Counter Revolution or National Salvation

It is Fall 1787. The Federal Convention has recently concluded its closed door meetings in Philadelphia and presented the nation with a new model for the government. It is now up to each special state convention to decide whether to replace the Articles of Confederation with this new constitution. The debate is passionate and speaks directly to what the founding fathers had in mind in conceiving this new nation. Does this new government represent salvation or downfall?

The Constitution: Drafting a More Perfect Union

Students will analyze an unidentified historical document and draw conclusions about what this document was for, who created it, and why. After the document is identified as George Washington’s annotated copy of the Committee of Style’s draft constitution, students will compare its text to that of an earlier draft by the Committee of Detail to understand its evolution.

Grades 11, 12, 9, 10
Legislative Branch/Congress
Lesson Plans

The Declaration of Independence: From Rough Draft to Proclamation

Students will analyze an unidentified historical document and draw conclusions about what this document was for, who created it, and why. After the document is identified as Thomas Jefferson’s “original Rough draught” of the Declaration of Independence, students will compare its text to that of the final document adopted by Congress on July 4, 1776 and discuss the significance of differences in wording.