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The Art of Understanding an American icon-Ben Franklin

Lesson Overview

Overview: The British colonists were beginning to create an "American Identity". Our nation's character was shaped by colonial education, movements in science and reasoning, the publishing industry and ideas of self-government. Ben Franklin was a contemporary of the Age of Enlightenment. He influenced many American Values we still cherish today such as being an entrepreneur, instilling hard work, being thrifty, having self-reliance, ensuring the right to free-expression and practicing philanthropy.  
Grade Range: 6-8 
Objective: Students will:
  • Analyze the Rebus created by Ben Franklin.
  • Use that image to understand Ben Franklin's philosophy, humor and genius.
  • Participate in small learning groups then in whole class discussion. 
Time Required: Two class periods of 50 minutes. 
Discipline/Subject: Social Studies, American History 
Topic/Subject: Literature 
Era: Settlement, Beginning to 1763, The American Revolution, 1763-1783 

 


Standards

Illinois Learning Standards: Social Studies:

16.A-Apply the skills of historical analysis and interpretation.
18.B-Understand the roles and interactions of individuals and groups in society.
18.B.3b-Analyze how individuals interact with and within institutions.

Language Arts:

5.A-Locate, organize, and use information from various sources to answer questions, solve problems, and communicate ideas. 
5.C-Apply acquired information, concepts and ideas to communicate in a variety of formats. 

 


Materials

Handouts: Copies of primary source for learning groups, 4 copies per group, 5-6 groups per class.
Analysis Tools: Photo Analysis Guides (available on PDF)
Rubric: Rebus Ode to Franklin (available on PDF)
Library of Congress Items: Title of Source: The Art of Making Money
  Title of Source: Poor Richard, 1939, An Almanack for the Year of Christ 1739
Online Resources: Title of Source: Readers Theatre for Literacy and Presentation

 


Procedures

  Day One:
1. Previous to this lesson, the class had studied the growth of the 13 colonies, commerce, trade, and how the British colonists developed differently than their European counterparts. The class has discussed the emerging "American Identity" by making posters of American values.
2. Have the class read a play about Ben Franklin to give them background about his life, character and background. A Readers' Theatre Script Adapted from Susan Nanus's Play Ben Franklin.
3. The class is divided into five or six cooperative learning groups. Each groups is given a copy of "The Art of Making Money Plenty" by Ben Franklin and an analysis sheet (pdf), each group will share what they have decoded and what they think Ben was saying. They will describe the philosophy of money and whether they believe this advice is still useful today. The whole class will then engage in discussion and questions about the primary source.
  Day Two:
1. When all groups have completed their analysis, discussion and analysis guide sheet, each group will share what they have decoded and what they think Ben was saying. They will describe the philosophy of money and whether they believe this advice is still useful today. The whole class will then engage in discussion and questions about the primary source.

 


Evaluation

The teacher will evaluate the lesson through engagement during learning group activities, time on task in groups, group reports to the class, class participation in discussion and individual rebus extension activity. Rubrics will be used to assess the extension activity.


Extension

As an extension activity students can look at some of Ben Franklin's sayings from his Poor Richard's almanac. Students can choose one saying from one of Poor Richard's almanac and create their own rebus illustration imbedding the Franklin quote in it. Use the attached rubric to grade this.

 


Author Credits:
L. St. Gemme'
Charleston Middle School