American Revolution

American Revolution and Jean Fritz

Using books by Jean Fritz, students learn about the Revolutionary War. They have opportunities to analyze historical characters, form opinions on historical events, write and respond creatively to literature. The unit takes around four to five weeks.

TitleIII Technology Literacy Challenge Grant

Learning Unit

LU Title: American Revolution and Jean FritzAuthor(s):Shannon Brach
Grade Level:5School :Adirondack Central School
Topic/Subject Area: American RevolutionAddress: Forestport, NY 13338
Email:[email protected]


Using books written by Jean Fritz students will gain information about the Revolutionary War. Students will be provided with opportunities to analyze historical characters, form opinions on historical events, write and respond creatively to literature. This unit will take approximately four to five weeks to complete.

Content Knowledge

Gain information about history through literatureStudents will write journal entries
Identify and explain the importance of historical figuresStudents will construct a Venn diagram
Identify historical characters and their contributions to the American RevolutionStudents will create wanted posters
Identify the hardships of warStudents will write a point of view essay with evidence
Identify major events leading to the Revolutionary WarStudents will construct a timeline
Recognize that literature has its own set of vocabularyStudents will look up and define vocabulary words

Essential Questions

  1. Identify and explain reasons the Revolutionary War was fought?
  2. What roles did Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock play in the Revolutionary War?
  3. What was life like in the United States during the Revolutionary War?

Connections to NYS Learning Standards

List Standard # and Key Idea #: Write out related Performance Indicator(s) or Benchmark(s)

ELA Standard 1: Students will read, write, listen, and speak for information and understanding.

Performance indicator:

  • Select and use strategies that have been taught for notetaking, organizing, and categorizing for information
  • Ask specific questions to clarify and extend meaning
  • Make appropriate and effective use of strategies to construct meaning from print, such as prior knowledge about a subject, structural and context clues, and an understanding of letter-sound relationships to decode difficult words
  • Support inferences about information and ideas with reference to text features, such as vocabulary and organizational patterns
  • Present information clearly in a variety of oral and written forms such as summaries, paraphrases, brief reports, stories, posters and charts
  • Select a focus, organizational, and point of view for oral and written presentations
  • Use a few traditional structure for conveying information such as chronological order cause and effect, and similarities and difference
  • Use the process of pre-writing, drafting, revising, and proofreading (the “writing process”) to produce well constructed informational texts
  • Observe basic writing conventions, such as correct spelling, punctuation, and capitalizing, as well as sentence and paragraph structures appropriate to written forms

ELA Standards 2: Students will read, write, listen and speak for literacy response and expression.

Performance Indicator:

  • Understand the literacy elements of setting, character, plot, theme, and point of view and compare those to features to the other works and to their own lives
  • Use inference and deduction to understand text
  • Read aloud accurately and fluently, using phonics and context cues to determine pronunciation and meaning
  • Present personal responses to literature that make reference to the plot, characters, ideas, vocabulary, and structure
  • Observe the conventions of grammar and usage, spelling and punctuation

ELA Standard 3: Students will read, write, listen and speak for critical analysis and evaluation

Performance Indicator:

  • Recognize that the criteria that one uses to analyze and evaluate anything depend on one’s point of view and purpose for the analysis
  • Evaluate their own strategies for reading and listening critically (such as recognizing bias or false claims, and understanding the difference between fact and opinion and adjust those strategies to understand the experience more fully
  • Express opinions (in such forms as oral and written reviews, letters to the editor, essays or persuasive speeches) about events, books, issues, and experiences, supporting their opinions with some evidence
  • Monitor and adjust their own oral and written presentations to meet criteria for competent performance (e.g., in writing the criteria might include development of a position, organization, appropriate vocabulary, mechanics, and neatness. In speaking, the criteria might include good content, effective delivery, diction, posture, poise and eye contact)
  • Use effective vocabulary and follow the rules of grammar, usage, spelling, and punctuation in persuasive writing

ELA Standard 4: Students will read, write, listen and speak for social interaction

Performance Indicator:

  • Listen attentively and recognize when it is appropriate for them to speak
  • Take turns speaking and respond to others’ ideas in conversation on familiar topics
  • Recognize the kind of interaction appropriate for different circumstances, such as story hour, group discussions, and one-on-one conversations

Social Studies Standard 1: Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of major ideas, eras, themes, developments, and turning points in the history of the United States and New York

Performance Indicator:

  • Understand basic ideals of American democracy as explained in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and other important documents
  • Explain those values, practices, and traditions that unite all Americans

Social Studies Standard 4: Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of how the United States and other societies develop economic systems and associated institutions to allocate scarce resources, how major decisions-making units functions in the U.S. and other national economies, and how an economy solves the scarcity problem through market and non market mechanisms.

Performance Indicator:

  • Know that scarcity requires individuals to make choices and that these choices involve costs
  • Study about how the availability and distribution of resources is important to a nation’s economic growth

Social Studies Standard 5: Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of the necessity for establishing governments; the government system of the U.S. and other nations; the U.S. Constitution; the basic civic values of American constitutional democracy; and the roles, rights, and responsibilities of citizenship, including avenues of participation.

Performance Indicators:

  • Explain the probable consequences of the absence of government and rules
  • Describe the basic purposes of government and the importance of civic life

Initiative Activity

Students will view a short video from School House Rock titled America Rock. After viewing the video students will be introduced the first piece of literature in this unit, And Then What Happened, Paul Revere? by Jean Fritz. As a class we will begin a K-W-L chart that will be updated and displayed throughout the unit.

Learning Experiences

In chronological order including acquisition experiences and extending/refining
experiences for all stated declarative and procedural knowledge.

1. Initiating Activity 

2. Vocabulary– The students will be introduced to a variety of vocabulary words relating to the 1700’s. It is important to introduce new vocabulary words prior to beginning each book. And then What Happened, Paul Revere? , Why Don’t You Ride A Horse, Sam Adams? and Will You Sign Here, John Hancock ? by Jean Fritz

3. Journal Writing: At the beginning of each piece of literature each student will be given a journal. These journals will provide students with the opportunity to write summaries, record thoughts and opinions, give detailed explanations, make inferences, and draw pictures and maps.

4. Character Traits: Teacher will model character traits on one of the three main characters, Paul Revere, John Hancock, or Samuel Adams, by filling in a graphic organizer. The students will then choose one of the two remaining characters and complete their own graphic organizer.

5. Time Line: Students will create a time line of important events leading up to the Revolutionary War.

6. Compare / Contrast: Students will complete a Venn diagram of two of the three main characters from And Then What Happened, Paul Revere?, Will You Sign Here, John Hancock?, Why Don’t You Ride A Horse, Samuel Adams?

7. Stamp Act Reactions: Read And Then What Happened, Paul Revere? (pages 17-19), Will You Sign Here, John Hancock? (pages 12-15) and Why Don’t You Ride a Horse Sam Adams? (page 15) aloud. Record each man’s reaction on the board. Have students imagine that they lived during the American Revolution and decide which one of these three men they would most be like. Allow students to share explanations with the class. Mailbox Magazine Intermediate December/January, 1997/1998 Issue

8. Wanted Poster: Discuss why John Hancock was placed on King George’s “Dangerous Americans” list. Ask students to think of other revolutionaries that may have been placed on his list. Discuss possible people that could appear on the list and write them on the board. Have the students create a wanted poster of one revolutionary whose name made it to the board.

9. Famous Resumes: Explain what a resume is to students and show them an example of one. Divide class into small groups and have each group read through one of the three books listed in this unit. Ask the students to record the jobs, experiences and accomplishments of the main character. Have each group write a resume for that character. Extension: Hold a job fair by selecting job advertisements from the local newspaper. Write the job titles on the board and have a member from each group copy them onto a sheet of paper. Read each job description aloud to the class one at a time. Ask the students to determine which job they feel their famous person is qualified for and be prepared to explain why. Mailbox Magazine Intermediate December/January, 1997-1998 Issue

10. Letters Home: Some colonists still had relatives living in England during the American Revolution. Pretend that you are one of these colonists in 1776. On a sheet of paper, write a draft of a letter to a relative who still lives in England. In the letter explain your point of view on the Revolution. Then edit your draft type your letter using Microsoft Word. Mailbox Magazine Intermediate December/January, 1997-1998 issue

11. Compare and Contrast: Students will complete a Venn diagram comparing and contrasting two main characters; Paul Revere, John Hancock or Samuel Adams

Journal Topics & Vocabulary: Vocabulary and journal topics are given to students in the form of a packet. The packet also includes pages for students to write summaries for assigned readings. A rubric is used to assess the student’s work. See below for the rubric used to assess packets.

And Then What Happened, Paul Revere? by Jean Fritz

Make a list of Paul Revere’s many jobs and skills

Pretend that you are Paul Revere. Write an entry in your journal describing the Boston Tea Party.

Make a map that shows the location of important events that occurred along the route of Paul Revere’s famous ride.

Vocabulary: Ornament, scrawl, incident, sentries, petticoat, spurs, steeple, companions, engagements, statehouse

Will You Sign Here, John Hancock? by Jean Fritz

List and describe John Hancock’s nine conveyances, or vehicles. Why do you suppose he had so many?

Explain why you think the Continental Congress chose George Washington over John Hancock as Commander in Chief of the Army.

John Hancock was one of the richest men in the colonies. Find three details in the book that supports that statement.

Vocabulary: crimson, extravagance, emblazoned, conveyances, inspector, cargo, procession, unanimously, gracious, pewter, gout

Why Don’t You Get A Horse, Sam Adams? by Jean Fritz

Draw a picture showing how Sam Adams dressed at the beginning of the book; then write a description of his appearance.

Why do you think Samuel Adams would not ride a horse? Name one thing you dislike doing and explain why you dislike it.

Pretend you are Sam Adams. Write a short speech outlining your opinions on England’s role in the colonies and America’s independence.

Vocabulary: domesticate, pedestal, tailor, heave, hoist, bridle, agitator

  VocabularyEssayShort AnswerSummaries
4-Complete-Relevant  -Addresses Topic-No Grammatical Errors-No Punctuation Errors-No Spelling Errors-Rephrases Answers-No Grammatical Errors-No Punctuation Errors-No Spelling Errors-All Facts are Important-No Grammatical Errors-No Punctuation Errors-No Spelling Errors
3-Complete-Not Relevant   -Addresses Topic-Few Grammatical Errors-Few Punctuation Errors-Few Spelling Errors-Rephrases Answers-Few Grammatical Errors-Few Punctuation Errors-Few Spelling Errors-Some Important Facts-Few Grammatical Errors-Few Punctuation Errors-Few Spelling Errors
2-Complete-Not Relevant  -Deviates from Topic-Many Grammatical Errors-Many Punctuation Errors-Many Spelling Errors-Rephrase Answers-Many Grammatical Errors-Many Punctuation Errors-Many Spelling Errors-Few Important Facts-Many Grammatical Errors-Many Punctuation Errors-Many Spelling Errors
1-Incomplete-Not Relevant  -Doesn’t Address Topic-Several Grammatical Errors-Several Punctuation Errors-Several Spelling Errors-Doesn’t Rephrase Answers-Several Grammatical Errors-Several Punctuation ErrorsSeveral Spelling Errors-No Important Facts-Several Grammatical Errors-Several Punctuation Errors-Several Spelling Errors
0-Incomplete-Blank -Incomplete-Incomplete-Incomplete

Culminating Performance

Include rubric(s)

In cooperative groups, the students will be asked to write and perform a play based on the life of Paul Revere, John Hancock or Sam Adams. Students will write their scripts and publish them on Microsoft Word. Students will also be responsible for creating props and costumes that will recreate the correct time period. (Character costumes can be made out of poster board, cut a holein the board for a face and then draw and color on clothing.)

Students and teachers will evaluate group performances using a rubric. The goals of each performance are strong character development based on historical facts; costumes and props that reflect correct time period, and clearness and projection of speech and sound effects.

PlayCharacter PortrayalScriptClearness & Projection
 4-Accurate portrayal, character fully developed-Costumes reflect time period-Costume neat and attractive-Logically and thoroughly developed-Interesting and creative captures the audiences’ attention- Language reflects time period-Speaks clearly and loudly throughout the entire performance
 3-Accurate portrayal most of the time-Most of the costume reflects time period-Costume neat-Logically developed-Interesting, captures audiences’ attention-Language reflects time period most of the time-Speaks clearly and loudly most of the time
 2-Little accuracy in portrayal and development-Little reflection of time period in costume-Costume untidy-Logically developed most of the time-Captures audiences’ attention most of the time-Language vaguely appropriate to time period-Speaks clearly but not loud enough for entire performance
 1-Inaccurate portrayal-Costume does not reflect time period-Illogical development-Does not capture audiences’ attention-Language does not reflect appropriate time period -Inaudible

Prerequisite Skills

Students will need comprehension skills, phonemic awareness, dictionary skills, knowledge of the writing process, computer skills, and basic knowledge of the Revolutionary War. 


This integrated literature and social studies unit will be taught in the presence of the reading specialist. The resource teacher as well as classroom teacher will aid students with special needs. It is easily adaptable for all levels of learners.

Unit Schedule / Time Plan

 This unit will take approximately four to five weeks to complete depending on the number of activities one chooses to incorporate.

Technology Use

Students will have access to the computer program America Rock and they will also be given an opportunity to access web pages that have been book marked by the teacher. The students will use these web sites to gather more information about the Revolutionary War.

Students will also be using Microsoft Word and Print Shop Deluxe to type scripts and letters.

Programs: Microsoft Word, Print Shop Deluxe, School House Rock program: America Rock

Web Sites: Students

Tour Paul Revere’s House

Read Longfellow’s poem Paul Revere’s Ride

View Paul Revere’s most famous engraving The Boston Massacre

American Memory: Documents and historical materials that portray the people and events that have made our nation what it is today. From library of Congress Collection.

Web Site: Teachers

Teachers Guide to: The Revolutionary War: Birth of a Nation (Lists major battles and highlights of the war)


Fritz, Jean (1996). And Then What Happened, Paul Revere?.New York, NY: Putnam & Grosset Group

Fritz, Jean (1997). Will You Sign Here, John Hancock?. New York, NY: Putnam & Grosset Group

Fritz, Jean (1997). Why Don’t You Ride A Horse,Sam Adams ?. New York, NY: Putnam & Grosset Group

The Mailbox, Intermediate December/January 1997-1998, 22, 25-28

Further reading: How to Write a Lesson Plan: 7 Steps