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Lesson Plan: Stranded, or why do we have rules?

Introduction: the Declaration of Independence, a document so essential to understanding

our American past and present.
Context of the lesson within the unit: This lesson will help each student understand the
Bill of Rights and the reason the Declaration of Independence was created. Students will
begin to understand the application of the first 10 amendments to their daily lives.
Students will learn about and apply these rights to experimental situations to determine
the effects they have on their real, day-to-day lives. In addition, students will begin to
grasp the philosophy of government expressed in the Declaration of Independence with
an emphasis on government as a means of securing individual rights.
Activity: Congratulations, You are a member of this class on your way to a tropical
island field trip when the boat is hit by a hurricane storm. The storm destroys the boat
you are on and each one of you has just jumped off the sinking boat and into the water.
All adults and authority figures have perished in the shipwreck; but you and your
classmates have just survived! Luckily, one of the survivors in your class spotted a
nearby island and everyone that can swim makes it to the island!
Now the bad news, the island is deserted. Your mission is to survive as a group in a
simulation of being stranded.
I will divide the class into six surviving teams, where each group will determine how to
organize yourselves to survive. Each group will have 10 minutes to come up with how
you are going to organize yourselves to survive. Each group also needs to come up with a
list of "Rights" that everyone on their island will have as well as a list of "Wrongs." Each
group will need to get out a paper and pen/pencil to write down all of the agreed upon
Assessment: Student s will be evaluated by informal teacher observation and
participation in discussions, assessment of in-class work, higher order thinking questions
(quick-write), and group activity. Your classmates on the island will evaluate you on your
thoughtfulness and the viability of your plan
Critical Thinking and Essential Questions/Issues:
1. Do laws, rights (such as the Bill of Rights) and rules (such as classroom rules) guide
our daily lives, and if so, how?
2. How would daily live in the US be different if the Bill of Rights was not in place?
3. In a community of your own creation (on the island), which system of government
works the best in your opinion? What would happen if government did not exist?
4. Explain why rules and laws are so important in our society.

Now I want you guys to discuss what they see as the advantages and disadvantages of
declaring independence from Britain.
It is important to know that the Continental Congress did not consider independence for
more than a year after the first shots were fired at Lexington and Concord.
*NOTE: I will write student responses (or designate a student as the secretary) to come
up to the board and write down the classes ideas regarding the advantages and
disadvantages of independence on the chalkboard.
Suggested answers include:
Possibility of foreign aid from France
Legitimacy in the world community
Captured soldiers treated as POWs not
spies or rebels
Independence might unite different areas
of the colonies
Stating for the world the ideological basis
of this new country
Freedom from subservience to the King

Might lose friends in England who
supported cause of colonists in regard to
representation in Parliament but not
Might cause division within the colonies
If Revolution failed, the and leaders might
be tried and executed as traitors.
Colonies were poorly
prepared for war
Fighting the largest military
power in the world
No weapons nor
manufacturing to make them
Dependent on England for
elements needed to fight a
Chances of winning the war
were slim.
Colonists would be cutting
themselves off from the
biggest, freest empire in the
Sentimental attachment to

Nice job! Now keep the list of advantages and disadvantages in your mind because it is
important to remember that the idea of independence was not necessarily embraced by all
colonists, and that while many believed the British had violated the colonists basic
rights, the violation was not enough to warrant a rebellion or creating of a new
SLIDE 2: Background information:
Back in Europe there was a revolution called the Glorious Revolution. This was very
important because in the 17th century our founding fathers were reading philosophies
from John Locke, Voltaire and Rousseau.
Now I am not going to go into a large discussion about the Glorious Revolution or these
philosophers, but it is important to understand that these intellectual thinkers helped
create the ideas behind the revolution, the Bill of Rights and Declaration. These
philosophers ideas were the foundation for the English and French Revolution.
In 1690, just before the Road to Revolution a philosopher named John Locke, who was
an English Doctor, wrote many famous works. One in particular was called the "Treaties
on Government" which says all men are equal because we all born the same way. He also
discusses the natural rights that citizens have, which many of you came up with during
your island shipwreck.
The Bill of Rights is the first ten amendments of the constitution, and they reflect the
writings of the philosophers, such as John Locke.