As we wind our way closer to Thanksgiving break and the end of the first trimester at Harlem Academy, my seventh and eighth grade Junior Historians are hard at work on their final assessment of the term. Next week we will be taking final exams, covering all material since September, but today we focus on the American Revolutionary War and the Civil Rights movement in the early 1960s. Both assessments challenge the students to defend a given thesis both by rote and in utilizing a given source document.
Try your hand at a Junior Historians' assessment.
One of the biggest challenges in teaching with primary source documents is vocabulary and complex or dated verbiage. My 7th graders encountered these challenges in reading the text of the Declaration of Independence. The DOI is a brilliantly written argument and one that clearly ranks high in importance in the formation of our nation. It was essential that my students could parse the language and get beyond the pitfalls, to the meat of the document: the logical and evidenced argument for separation from Great Britain.
To that end, after summarizing each of the chunked excerpts from the DOI, we created a class "condensed" version of the DOI that put the text into 7th grade friendly language.
Below you will find, like a No Fear Shakespeare book, the original text coupled with my class's interpretation of that excerpt in their own language. Enjoy!