American Revolution

Students examine the ideas and values behind the American Revolution, and what drove the colonists to seek independence, through nonfiction texts including Liberty! How the Revolutionary War Began.

Unit Summary

In this unit students continue the exploration of factors that influence change by examining the events that led up to the American Revolution. Over the course of the unit, students will build a deeper understanding of the significant ideas and values at the heart of the American Revolution, what drove the colonists to seek independence, and how conflict between England and the colonists ultimately influenced change in our country. Students will see the American Revolution from multiple perspectives, starting with analyzing the difference in perspectives between the British and the colonists and how each side’s actions often instigated each other. Students will also explore how class structure influenced colonists perspectives. Later in the unit, students will think about the perspectives of black people, women and Native Americans who were forced to choose a side and why they may have had a different point of view of the events of the revolution. 

An important part of this unit is pushing students to focus on seeing history from multiple different perspectives. The core text Liberty! How the Revolutionary War Began offers one perspective on events, however, the prespective is limited to that held by white elite colonists. Therefore, students also read excerpts from A Young People's History of the United States in order to build a deeper understanding of all sides of the Revolution.

Subscribe to Fishtank Plus to unlock access to additional resources for this unit, including:

  • Unit Launch
  • Enhanced Lesson Plans
  • Essential Task Guides
  • Student Handout Editor
  • Google Classroom Integration
  • Vocabulary Package
  • Fluency Package
  • Data Analysis Package
 

Unit Launch

Prepare to teach this unit with videos and short readings that cover:

  • Key standards
  • Essential questions
  • Text complexity
  • Monitoring student progress
 

Texts and Materials

Core Materials

Supporting Materials

See Text Selection Rationale

Unit Prep

Essential Questions

?

  • What key events led to the outbreak of the American Revolution? 
  • How did opinions differ on the idea of independence? 
  • Were the colonies really a land of equality and liberty? 
  • Why is it important to look at history from multiple perspectives?  

Writing Focus Areas

?

Sentence-Level Focus Areas

  • Use coordinating conjunctions "because," "but," and "so "
  • Use subordinating conjunctions "before," "after," "when," and "if"
  • Use subordinating conjunctions "even though," "although," "since," and "while"
  • Use correct capitalization 

In unit one students focused on writing complete simple sentences. In this unit, students focus on writing compound and complex sentences. Students will be challenged to write compound and complex sentences while answering daily Target Task questions. 

Paragraph-Level Focus Areas

  • Draft strong paragraphs
  • Determine the best supporting evidence 

In this unit students continue to work on drafting strong paragraphs. In unit one students learned how to create an outline for a strong single-paragraph. In this unit, students learn how to turn the outline into a strong paragraph. They also learn how to determine which evidence best supports a particular topic sentence.

Opinion Writing Focus Areas

  • State an opinion
  • Support an opinion with facts and reasons 

At the end of the unit students complete their first opinion writing assignment. Students learn how to state an opinion and provide reasons and facts to support their opinion.

Speaking and Listening Focus Areas

  • Prepare for discussion. Students learn how to prepare for academic discussions. 
  • Elaborate to support ideas. Students provide evidence or examples to justify and defend their point clearly.
  • Use vocabulary. Students use vocabulary that is specific to the subject and task to clarify and share their thoughts. 

In this unit students predominantly show understanding of the text through academic discourse. Through a range of one-on-one, group and teacher-led tasks students grapple with the deeper meanings of both core texts. Since this is the first unit of the year, students will learn how to follow rules for discussions and how to come prepared. This will be reinforced through oral language protocols referenced in the unit. 

Students at this point will also be in the beginning stages of articulating ideas and participating in conversations. As noted in our Guide to Academic Discourse (below), when students first participate in discussions the focus should be on helping students clarify and share their own thoughts. Later students will be able to engage with the thinking of others, but to do so they need to be able to clearly articulate their own ideas.

Vocabulary

?

Below are all of the unit vocabulary words. Prior to teaching the unit, we recommend teachers decide which words to prioritize. We also recommend that teachers decide which affixes to prioritize. See our teacher tool Prepping Unit Vocabulary (below) for more guidance on which words to pick as priority words.

Text-based

Loyalists allies authorized bombarded boycott class condemn defied delegate demonstrations desert disguise elite enforce enlist heroines indentured infuriate insults intolerable jeer lanterns liberty local loyal militia monopoly mourn mutiny neutral oppression possessions rebel rebellion repeal riot seize settler steeple tyranny unite

Root/Affix

-sion -tion en- in-

Assessment

These assessments accompany this unit to help gauge student understanding of key unit content and skills. Additional progress monitoring suggestions are included throughout the unit.

Lesson Map

1

  • Liberty! pp. 1 – 5

    RI.4.3

Defend if the actions of the French and Indian War support the idea that America was the land of liberty.

2

  • A Young People's History of the United States pp. 38 – 55

    RI.4.3

    RI.4.6

Defend if the colonies really were a land of liberty and equaltiy. 

3

  • Liberty! pp. 6 – 11

    RI.4.2

    RI.4.3

Explain how the colonists united together and if they united together in a productive way.

4

  • Liberty! pp. 12 – 15

    RI.4.2

    RI.4.3

    RI.4.6

Summarize what happened during the Boston Massacre.

5Essential Task

Writing

  • Liberty!

    RI.4.2

    W.4.2.a

    W.4.2.b

    W.4.9

Summarize what happened during the Boston Massacre.

6

Writing

  • Liberty!

    W.4.9

    L.4.1.f

    L.4.2.c

Use subordinating conjunctions to write more interesting and complex sentences.

7

  • A Young People's History of the United States pp. 57 – 66

    RI.4.3

Analyze and explain the unrest felt by colonists in the lead up to the Revolutionary War. 

8

  • Liberty! pp. 16 – 17

    RI.4.2

    RI.4.3

Summarize what happened during the Boston Tea Party.

9Essential Task

Discussion & Writing

  • Liberty!

    SL.4.1

Discuss and analyze unit-essential questions by preparing for and participating in a class discussion using evidence from the text.

10

  • Liberty! pp. 18 – 21

    RI.4.2

    RI.4.3

Defend if the British army or the militia would win if “blows decided."

11

Writing

  • Liberty!

    W.4.9

    L.4.1.f

    L.4.2.c

Use subordinating conjunctions to write more interesting and complex sentences.

12

  • Liberty! pp. 22 – 25

    RI.4.2

    RI.4.3

Describe what happened at the First Continental Congress and if all of the delegates were in agreement.

13

  • “Opinion Letter”

  • If You Lived... pp. 19 – 27

    RI.4.2

    RI.4.3

    RI.4.6

    SL.4.3

    SL.4.4

Compare and contrast the beliefs of the Loyalists and the Patriots and why they had such different beliefs.

14

Discussion & Writing

  • All unit texts

    W.4.1

    SL.4.1

    SL.4.3

Defend whether one should side with the Loyalists or the Patriots.

15

  • Liberty! pp. 26 – 29

    RI.4.2

    RI.4.3

Defend the statement, “The minutemen were too weak and had no chance of beating the redcoats."

16

  • Paul Revere’s Ride

    RI.4.2

    RI.4.3

    RI.4.7

Describe how Ted Rand uses illustrations to help a reader better understand the events of Paul Revere’s ride. 

17

  • Let It Begin Here!

    RI.4.2

    RI.4.3

Summarize what happens in Lexington and Concord and how both battles showed that the Americans would fight for their freedom. 

18Essential Task

  • Liberty! pp. 30 – 31

    RI.4.2

    RI.4.3

Summarize how the Battle of Bunker Hill showed both sides how terrible war would be. 

19

  • A Young People's History of the United States pp. 71 – 79

    RI.4.3

Describe the role poor people, Indigenous people and black people played in the revolution. 

20

  • “African-Americans in the Revolutionary War”

  • “American Revolution: The Indians' War of Independence”

    RI.4.2

    RI.4.3

    SL.4.3

    SL.4.4

Explain the role of African-Americans and Indigenous people in the revolution. 

21

  • Liberty! pp. 34 – 37

    RI.4.2

    RI.4.3

Explain what the Declaration of Independence was and why it was a turning point for the Americans. 

22

  • A Young People's History of the United States pp. 67 – 70

    RI.4.2

    RI.4.3

    SL.4.1

Analyze why the Declaration of Independence was written and who it represented. 

23

2 days

  • Great Women of...

    RI.4.3

    W.4.9

    SL.4.1

    SL.4.3

    SL.4.4

Analyze the role women played in the American Revolution and why they were referred to as everyday heroines.

24

2 days

  • Black Heroes of...

    RI.4.2

    RI.4.3

    W.4.9

    SL.4.3

    SL.4.4

Analyze the role of black heroes in the American Revolution and why they were important.

25

Discussion & Writing

  • All unit texts

    SL.4.1

Discuss and analyze unit-essential questions by preparing for and participating in a class discussion using evidence from the text.

26

Assessment

27

4 days

Opinion Writing

    W.4.1

    W.4.1.a

    W.4.1.b

    W.4.8

    W.4.9

    L.4.1.f

    L.4.2.a

Write an essay defending if the colonists were or were not justified in declaring independence and fighting the Revolutionary War. 

Common Core Standards

Language Standards
  • L.4.1 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

  • L.4.1.f — Produce complete sentences, recognizing and correcting inappropriate fragments and run-ons.

  • L.4.2 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

  • L.4.2.a — Use correct capitalization.

  • L.4.2.c — Use a comma before a coordinating conjunction in a compound sentence.

Reading Standards for Informational Text
  • RI.4.2 — Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.

  • RI.4.3 — Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.

  • RI.4.6 — Compare and contrast a firsthand and secondhand account of the same event or topic; describe the differences in focus and the information provided.

  • RI.4.7 — Interpret information presented visually, orally, or quantitatively (e.g., in charts, graphs, diagrams, time lines, animations, or interactive elements on Web pages) and explain how the information contributes to an understanding of the text in which it appears.

Speaking and Listening Standards
  • SL.4.1 — Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 4 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

  • SL.4.3 — Identify the reasons and evidence a speaker provides to support particular points.

  • SL.4.4 — Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.

Writing Standards
  • W.4.1 — Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information

  • W.4.1.a — Introduce a topic or text clearly, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure in which related ideas are grouped to support the writer's purpose.

  • W.4.1.b — Provide reasons that are supported by facts and details.

  • W.4.2 — Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

  • W.4.2.a — Introduce a topic clearly and group related information in paragraphs and sections; include formatting (e.g., headings), illustrations, and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.

  • W.4.2.b — Develop the topic with facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples related to the topic.

  • W.4.8 — Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; take notes and categorize information, and provide a list of sources.

  • W.4.9 — Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Spiral Standards

?

L.4.1

L.4.2

L.4.4

L.4.4.b

L.4.6

RF.4.3

RF.4.4

RI.4.1

RI.4.10

RI.4.4

RI.4.9

SL.4.1

SL.4.6

W.4.10

W.4.4

W.4.5

W.4.6

W.4.9.b