Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Primary Sources - Workshop in American History Common Sense and the American Revolutionhomesitemap
Introduction -Link Before You Watch - link Lectures and Activities Classroom and Applications - Link

Workshop 2: Lectures & Activities

Activity Two:
Interpretations of Common Sense

For this activity, create a song, rap, dramatic poem, short play, or other interpretation that brings Paine's message to a contemporary audience. Presentations should run about two to five minutes and should focus on two to three main themes, arguments, or points from Paine's writing. Use the questions below to prepare for this activity. If possible, find an audience to present your work to. Facillitators Note

Note: This activity has two sets of questions: those that relate to specific documents and appear on each document page and more general, "big picture" questions listed below. You may begin with general or specific questions depending upon your preference.

Consider These Questions


What are Paine's philosophical, underlying, and universalized arguments for independence?


What is Paine's approach? Consider his use of language, his use of emotional versus logical arguments, and his intended audience.

Image of Pauline Maier

"The people read Common Sense. It opened the debate on independence. But when they came to their own conclusion, they didn't come at it just like Paine did. They had their own arguments, their own experience that they brought into it."
— Pauline Maier

  Primary Sources: Documents

(Click here for information on using primary source documents)


image of a generic historical documentCommon Sense, January 10, 1776 HTML Version | PDF Version (35 pages)

Common Sense, a pamphlet written by Thomas Paine, makes a case, in accessible and stirring language, for independence.

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