Road to Independence

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Banner Independence Day.jpg

Every year, people in America celebrate their Independence Day. Do you know when it is?


When do the Americans celebrate their indepedence? (!2nd June) (4th July) (!15th September) (!the 2nd Friday in November)

Great! On this day in 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed. Since then, America has been celebrating this day every year. Have a look at this parade from Washington D.C. in 2017. Click through the video and get an impression how America is celebrating their history, culture and identity.

But what happened between the colonization of America and their independence from Great Britain? Follow our road to independence to find out!


Lernpfad

Content Goals: In this learning path, you will learn

  • about three main events leading up to the American Independence
  • about the Declaration of Independence

Difficulty Level: In this learning path, you will find different sources for each topic. They are marked according to their difficulty level.

○ - easier (the source is shorter or uses easier vocabulary)
● - more difficult (the source is longer or harder to understand)

You can choose the difficulty by yourself. Just think about challenging yourself from time to time. When there are videos, you can also turn on the subtitles.

Social Organisation:

You will work through this learning path with a partner in the following sequence:

  1. Each of you will work through the section "Steps on the Road to Independence".
  2. You will divide the remaining 4 parts, so that each of you is working on two of them.
  3. Read the "Conclusion"-Section.
  4. Together, you create a pinboard on "Padlet" to visualize America's path to independence. Pay attention that you emphasize the events' meaning for the American Independence. Make the pinboard visually appealing and be ready to present it to the class.

Since there are lot of original texts from the internet, there will be a lot of words you don't know. Don't be afraid! Use online dictionaries such as dict.cc or leo.org or ask your teacher. Remember, that sometimes you don't need to understand every single word to get the content.

Let's get started!




Der Lernpfad inklusive der Erstellung der Pinnwand ist für 90 Minuten angelegt. Wenn du den Lernpfad im Unterricht ausprobiert hast, würde ich mich über Rückmeldungen und Verbesserungsvorschläge auf meiner Diskussions-Seite freuen!


Steps on the Road to Independence

To get a first overview of the topic, watch either the video below or have a look at this interactive map.

If you choose the interactive map, click on the link above. You have to go to fullscreen mode by clicking on the little sign in the bottom left corner. Then you can close the "Upgrade" window to see the map.


Task
Pay attention to the events named in the video or make yourself familiar with the events you can find in the map. Then, do the task in the pop-up window below the video.



Tick the correct boxes!

Which events were named in the video or in the map?

Battle of Lexington
Thanksgiving
Discovery of America
Stamp Act
Boston Tea Party
Battle of the Little Bighorn
French-Indian War
Founding the First Colony

Very good! Now, having a rough idea, you will go into more detail concerning the events.


French-Indian War

Conference between the French and Indian Leaders Around a Ceremonial Fire by Émile Louis Vernier


Task

Research about the French and Indian War. Take notes and in the end, you should be able to answer the following questions:

  • Who fought against whom in the French and Indian War?
  • Why did the war happen in the first place?
  • What was the result of the war?
  • What was its meaning for the American independence?
  • Who was an important figure in this war?

Use the following sources to gain information. You can choose if you want to work on your listening skills by choosing the audio file or the video or if you want to work on your reading skills. Of course, you are allowed to use any other sources as well.



Now, check if you're a pro in the French-Indian War. You can choose between a quiz or a cloze text.


Cloze text

Who fought against whom in the French-Indian War? (!French vs. Indians)(!Indians vs. British + French)(British + Indian tribes vs. French + Indian tribes)(!Spanish + Indian tribes vs. French)

Why did the war happen in the first place? (!The Indians wanted their land back.)(!The British raised taxes on the Indians.)(!The Spanish left America and France and Britain fought about the "new" land.)(The French expanded South and the British expanded West.)

What was the result of the war? (The British won and gained a significant part of North America's territory.) (!The French won and gained a significant part of North America's territory.) (!The Indians won and gained a significant part of North America's territory.) (!Nobody won and the territory was divided equally.)

What was its meaning for the American Independence? (!King George III and the British were defeated, so they left America and the colonies became independent.) (!The Indians declared their independence from the colonies.)(King George III had to pay the war debts, raised taxes on the colonies to get the money and the wish for independence grew.)

Who was an important figure in this war? (!Thomas Jefferson) (George Washington) (!Queen Elizabeth I.) (!Louis XIV.)



Stamp Act

One Penny Stamp
Task

Research about the Stamp Act. Take notes and in the end, you should be able to answer the following questions:

  • Why did the Stamp Act happen?
  • What was the Stamp Act?
  • What was the colonists' reaction?
  • What was its meaning for the American Independence?

Use the following sources to gain information. You can choose if you want to work on your listening skills by choosing the audio file or if you want to work on your reading skills. Of course, you are allowed to use any other sources as well.


Now, check your knowledge about the Stamp Act by filling in the Mind Map below.

Boston Tea Party

The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor by Sarony & Major (1846)


Task

Research about the Boston Tea Party. Take notes and in the end, you should be able to answer the following questions:

  • Why did the Boston Tea Party happen?
  • What happened?
  • What was its meaning for the American Independence?

Use the following sources to gain information. You can choose if you want to work on your listening skills by choosing the video or if you want to work on your reading skills.Of course, you can use other sources as well.


The Boston Tea Party occurred on December 16, 1773. It was one of the key events leading up to the American Revolution.

Was it a big, fun party with tea?
Not really. There was tea involved, but nobody was drinking it. The Boston Tea Party was a protest by a group of American Colonists, called “Sons of Liberty” against the British government. They staged the protest by boarding three trade ships in Boston Harbor and throwing the ships' cargo of tea overboard into the ocean. They threw 342 chests of tea into the water. Some of the colonists were disguised as Mohawk Indians, but the costumes didn't fool anyone. The British knew who had destroyed the tea.

Why did they do it?
At first, throwing tea into the ocean dressed as Mohawks might seem a bit silly, but the colonists had their reasons. Tea was a favorite drink among the British and the colonies. With the Townshend Acts (1767), the colonies had to pay a tax for tea which they didn't like. Tea also was a major source of income to the East India Trading company. This was a British company and with the Tea Act (1773) the East India Trading company could sell tea to America duty-free, so it was much cheaper than tea from other companies. This created a monopoly. The tax on tea together with this British interference of the American economy made the colonists angry. They asked that the tea be returned to England. When it wasn't, they decided to protest Britain's unfair taxes by throwing the tea into the ocean.

Was it planned?
It's unclear to historians if the protest was planned. There had been a big town meeting earlier that day led by Samuel Adams to discuss the tea taxes and how to fight them. However, no one is quite sure if Samuel Adams planned the destruction of the tea or if a bunch of people just got mad and went and did it unplanned. Samuel Adams did later say that it was the act of people defending their rights and not the act of an angry mob.

It was just tea, what's the big deal?
It actually was a lot of tea. The 342 containers totaled 90,000 pounds of tea! In today's money that would be around a million dollars in tea.

How did the British react?
They responded with the "Intolerable Acts". They led for example to the closure of Boston port so it was closed for any trade.

adopted from "Boston Tea Party"

Now, check what you learned about the Boston Tea Party by putting the sentences below in the correct order.


The Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence

Actually, the Declaration of Independence isn't something that happened before the war but one year after it started.

Task

Research about the Declaration of Independence. Take notes.
Use the following sources to gain information. You can choose if you want to work on your listening skills by choosing the video or if you want to work on your reading skills. Of course, you can use other sources as well.


The thirteen colonies in the America's had been at war with Britain for around a year when the Second Continental Congress decided it was time for the colonies to officially declare their independence. This meant that they were breaking away from British rule. They would no longer be a part of the British Empire and would fight for their freedom.

Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?
On June 11, 1776 the Continental Congress appointed five leaders, called the Committee of Five, to write a document explaining why they were declaring their independence. The five members were Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Robert Livingston, Roger Sherman, and Thomas Jefferson. The members decided that Thomas Jefferson should write the first draft. Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft over the next few weeks and, after some changes made by the rest of the committee, they presented it to Congress on June 28, 1776.

[…]

The Declaration of Independence did more than just say the colonies wanted their freedom. It explained why they wanted their freedom. It listed all the bad things that the king had done to the colonies and that the colonies had rights which they felt they should fight for. Perhaps one of the most famous statements in the history of the United States is in the Declaration of Independence:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
For the full text, click here.

July 4, 1776
On July 4, 1776 the Congress officially adopted the final version of the Declaration of Independence. This day is still celebrated in the United States as Independence Day. […]


adopted and abridged from "Declaration of Independence"


Let's see what you remembered about the probably most famous document of the world.

Conclusion

Congratulations! You successfully mastered this learning path and now, you are a real expert. It's time to create your pinboard now.

Be aware of two things before you go on:

  • The events in this learning path are not the only ones leading up to the revolution. They are just a selection.
  • The Revolutionary War started in 1775, one year before the Declaration of Independence was signed. The war went on until 1783. Only with the US constitution of 1787 the United States of America were really independent from Great Britain. Nevertheless, the 4th July is celebrated as the day of foundation of the US.


If you are further interested in this topic, have a look at The American Revolution by Zoe Lowery (published by Britannica Educational Publishing).