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Paraphrase the Declaration of Independence in modern English.
study skills, Declaration of Independence, Washington, paraphrase, writing, notes, note taking
After students have all their notes together and are ready to start writing their research papers, paraphrasing -- putting the research into their own words -- is an essential skill. Being able to paraphrase can protect students from the temptation to copy text verbatim from Internet and library sources.
With the advent of super search engines such as Google, uncovering Internet plagiarism can be just a few keystrokes away. All you have to do is type into Google a sentence or phrase that arouses the suspicion of plagiarism and a cheating student would be busted faster than you can say "Detention."
For students in grades 5 and above, especially students who are studying U.S. History, you might introduce the text of the Declaration of Independence. Copy the text onto a transparency or project it from the Internet. Introduce small sections of text and have students paraphrase that text. The Declaration details the "repeated Injuries and Usurpations" of the King of Great Britain as he tried to govern the colonies from afar.
You might arrange students into small groups and provide them with sections of the text to paraphrase (including the brief sections below that offer a few examples of the king's "Injuries and Usurpations") -- as well as a dictionary. Alternatively, you might divide the Declaration into sections and give each section to a different group of students. In the end, you will have a modern-speak version of our Founding Fathers' document. For each statement from the Declaration of Independence below, we have provided in italic type one version of a possible paraphrase; note that your students might use wording that is quite different from our paraphrase -- yet correct and acceptable.
AssessmentAssign each student one of the points made in the Declaration of Independence. Students write their assigned points in modern English, then illustrate the points. Combine students' work to create a book of the Declaration of Independence to share with younger students who would not otherwise be able to understand it.
Lesson Plan Source
FINE ARTS: Visual Arts
GRADES K - 4
NA-VA.K-4.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
NA-VA.K-4.3 Choosing and Evaluating A Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas
NA-VA.K-4.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
GRADES 5 - 8
NA-VA.5-8.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
NA-VA.5-8.3 Choosing and Evaluating A Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas
NA-VA.5-8.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
GRADES 9 - 12
NA-VA.9-12.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
NA-VA.9-12.3 Choosing and Evaluating A Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas
NA-VA.9-12.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
LANGUAGE ARTS: English
GRADES K - 12
NL-ENG.K-12.1 Reading for Perspective
NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
NL-ENG.K-12.3 Evaluation Strategies
NL-ENG.K-12.4 Communication Skills
NL-ENG.K-12.5 Communication Strategies
NL-ENG.K-12.6 Applying Knowledge
NL-ENG.K-12.11 Participating in Society
NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills
GRADES 5 - 8
NSS-C.5-8.1 Civic Life, Politics, and Government
NSS-C.5-8.2 Foundations of the American Political System
NSS-C.5-8.3 Principles of Democracy
NSS-C.5-8.5 Roles of the Citizen
GRADES 9 - 12
NSS-C.9-12.1 Civic Life, Politics, and Government
NSS-C.9-12.2 Foundations of the Political System
NSS-C.9-12.3 Principles of Democracy
NSS-C.9-12.5 Roles of the Citizen
SOCIAL SCIENCES: U.S. History
GRADES K - 4
NSS-USH.K-4.3 The History of the United States: Democratic Principles and Values and the People from Many Cultures Who Contributed to Its Cultural, Economic, and Political Heritage
GRADES 5 - 12
NSS-USH.5-12.3 Era 3: Revolution and the New Nation (1754-1820s)
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