Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum
Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum
Reflect on how you teach Thomas Paine's Common Sense in your classroom. How would you teach it differently with primary sources?
Now consider these lesson ideas contributed by Primary Sources teachers:
The language in Common Sense is challenging for modern students, but not nearly as difficult as most colonial texts. This activity explores Common Sense, showing students an example of an appeal to average citizens, not writings meant only for the ruling elite.
I had my students read four pages of excerpts from Common Sense. I chose not to assign the full text because of time constraints and because I know my students will read four pages, but I don't know if they will fully read 65 pages. I chose each excerpt based on what struck me as interesting. I also tried to cover the four or five main points of Paine's thesis.
Next to each excerpt I wrote a number, and that number corresponded to a question that the students had to answer. The students submitted written answers to the questions. The questions, designed to lead them to an understanding of Paine's main points, were:
My students seemed to enjoy the assignment. Paine's writing style is like a puzzle that they had to unravel to find the meaning. I prefer to use primary sources when I can, and Common Sense is a source that truly engages students.