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The Road to the Revolution: Rebellion in Boston

Lesson Overview

Overview: The colonists of Boston were outraged by British troops being stationed in their city to enforce the taxes and acts imposed upon them by the British Parliament and King. As tensions flared between the townspeople, British troops, and tax collectors, violence erupted and American colonists were pushed closer to revolution.
Grade Range: 6-8
Objective: Students will:
  • Analyze pictures that illustrate colonial reaction.
  • Use those images to understand how colonists reacted to unfair treatment.
  • Participate in small learning groups, in whole class discussion, report to the class, and reflect on the lesson. 
  • Create a rally poster with their cooperative learning group.
  • Investigate how newspaper editors and printers (like Paul Revere) used propaganda to enrage the colonists by displaying the British in a negative light.
Time Required: One class period of 50 minutes
Discipline/Subject: Social Studies, American History, Colonization
Topic/Subject: Government, Law
Era: The American Revolution, 1763-1783


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.
Fine Arts:
26.B-Apply skills and knowledge necessary to create and perform in one or more of the arts. 



Handouts: Copies of LOC items, four copies per group, six groups per class
Analysis Tools: The More You Look, The More You See Photo Analysis
Rubric: Newspaper Article and Letter Rubric (available on PDF)
Library of Congress Items: Title of Source: The bloody massacre perpetrated in King Street boston on March 5th 1770 by a party of the 29th Regt.
  Title of Source: Destruction of tea at Boston Harbor
  Title of Source: Die Einwohner von Boston wersen den englisch-ostindischen Thee ins Meer am 18 December 1773 
  Title of Source: A New method of Macarony making as practiced at Boston/copied on stone by D.C. Johnston from a print publishedin london 1774 
  Title of Source: The Bostons paying the excise-man or tarring & feathering/copies on stone by D.C. Johnston from a print published in London 1774 
  Title of Source: Four coffins of men killed in the Boston Massacre 


1. Previous to this lesson, the class has studied the growing colonial resistance to taxes and acts being placed upon them by tax collectors representing the British parliament and king.
2. Divide the class into six cooperative learning groups. Each groups is given a copy of one of the primary sources and The More You Look, The More You See analysis sheet. Students will work together to analyze their assigned primary source, use the analysis sheet to drive discussion and complete the tasks of the analysis sheet, and communicate how the colonists lashed out against the British troops in Boston.
3. When all groups have completed their analysis, discussion, and analysis guide sheet, each group will display their primary source on the smartboard and share their findings with the class. The whole class will then engage in discussion and questions about the primary source projected, led by the cooperative learning group presenting that primary source.
4. At the conclusion of the group presentations, the teacher will guide a class discussion to connect all of the findings and guide the class to make inferences and decisions that summarize the colonial reactions and actions to the British imposing taxes on tea and confrontations with the people of Boston.
5. As an extension activity, the students will create a rally poster to encourage colonists to come to the Liberty tree and protest British actions in Boston and join together to declare independence. 


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 group rally posters assessed with a rubric. Rubrics will be used to assess the extension activity (available on PDF). 


Create a political cartoon to display the British negatively to the colonists in order to encourage them to unite together, protest, and declare independence from Britain. Project will be assessed using a rubric.  

Author Credits

M.A. Crome
Charleston Middle School