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Colonial America – The Signing of the Declaration of Independence

September 15, 2011
The classroom's declaration of rules.

The classroom’s declaration of rules.

Declaration of Independence

While studying the writing of the constitution, my class wrote their own.  We talked about the document and, at the time it was so far beyond anything that had been done before.  Thomas Jefferson wrote ideas in the declaration that until then had never been done before.  It was eloquent and direct without being too wordy, considering the time.   In class we broke down each article of the declaration into words my students understood.

We also talked about what a risk everyone that signed the declaration was making.  They were signing their own death sentence if their resolve to have an opportunity of having a say in the way they were governed.   It was a big gamble to take.

We were given a copy of the Declaration of Independence and my students couldn’t help but notice how big John Hancock’s signature is.  They learned that he said that he wanted King George to be able to read his name without his glasses!  He certainly made a statement.

Then we wrote our own classroom rules in the same format.  They included: keeping hands and feet to oneself, doing acts of kindness to others, respecting the property of others and the schools.  My students took it very seriously.  Some went home and came up with laws for at home too!  A couple of my students water-colored a piece of poster board and then we frayed the edges to look like parchment. It turned out very cool. When each student signed it, they were very solemn.

This year we asked if they wanted to re-write the constitution and my students discussed and agreed that the rules set down last year were exactly what they wanted. Could we use the same one?  They were all in agreement – we’ll sign a new copy of the classroom declaration!  Wow!  They saw the value and stood by their work from the last year!  I have a group of great thinkers and great leaders!

 

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