The primary goal of my curriculum unit this year is to develop a literature-based program which focuses on American Revolutionary War events which occurred in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York. Two of our novels,
The Fifth of March
, will examine Revolutionary Boston through the dramatic experiences of both a young apprentice silversmith who is caught up in the wartime effort with famous characters such as John Hancock, John and Samuel Adams, and James Otis, and a fourteen-year-old indentured servant who works for the household of John and Abigail Adams while searching for her place in this emerging nation. Both central characters, Johnny Tremain and Rachel Marsh, play pivotal roles in their efforts to help the colonials in their quest for liberty and freedom.
Our third novel,
My Brother Sam is Dead
, will examine the British occupation of farm lands, town commons and major roadways in southwestern Connecticut as the "lobsterbacks" prepare to march through Connecticut to participate in battles in upstate New York and Canada. Our major character Tim Meeker becomes an important messenger for the Patriot cause as he rides from township to countryside, relaying information concerning British troop movements to the Patriot hierarchy. Tim also has to resolve family and personal issues as he is torn by his father's loyalty to the Crown and his brother Sam's desire for liberty.
As I have noted in my introduction, this unit will seek to bring to life many important occurrences and events which led to the Boston Massacre and to the American Revolution. These actions were necessary for America to be freed from British rule. Ordinary people—-people such as lawyers, doctors, publishers, business merchants, painters, cooks, barbers, tailors, and people young and old alike sought to unite together for the good of all. Together they were able to defeat the British and to gain "liberty and justice for all".
Other unit objectives will encourage oral and silent reading activities as well as creative writing experiences. We will seek to improve critical thinking and analytical skills with comprehensive questions related to our novels. We will challenge our students with map skills as they plot troop movements from battle to battle and region to region. Time lines will prove invaluable as they will provide a framework for our Revolutionary episodes, culminating with the Declaration of Independence signing. Hopefully my students will become motivated to read beyond our three central novels and get involved with research efforts which will enhance their understanding of our country's birth.
As for strategies, my curriculum unit will assist me in several ways. At Clemente school, our comprehensive school plan strongly emphasizes reading and writing skills. Students will be challenged to seek out unifying themes among our novels. In both books which describe Boston, many major characters are interwoven and the events are related from different perspectives but united by a common Patriotic cause. Note taking, summarizing individual chapters and developing book reports will help to improve our writing skills. Role playing will lend itself nicely as we seek to recreate the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party and the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Guest speakers will be invited to demonstrate their silver and pewter making processes to give the students an appreciation for the skilled craftsmen of the period.
the unit would not be complete without a field trip to the Trumbull room at the Yale Art Gallery to view the magnificent period pieces of Washington Crossing the Delaware, the Signing of the Declaration of Independence, etc. Finances permitting, a trip to the Freedom Trail in Boston Massachusetts would certainly culminate a wonderful learning experience. Hopefully, our students will develop a richer understanding of the heroic accomplishments of our forefathers (and foremothers and foreyoungsters) and, in turn, applaud their perseverance.