Jefferson in the American Government — For ELD Students

Lesson Plan


Grade Level

High School

Author Info

Heather Moore
Arcadia High School
180 Campus Dr
Arcadia, CA 91740

Type of Lesson



2 class periods



Using sheltered quotes, students figure out political beliefs of Jefferson and Hamilton. They then apply it to choices made during Jefferson's administration, determining whether he acted in keeping with his ideals or not.

Prior Knowledge

It is highly advisable that students have read the "Jefferson Biography for ELD Students" sections on Jefferson as the First Secretary of State, Jefferson as the Vice President, and Jefferson as President.

State Standards

CA Skill Standards for Social Studies:

Chronological and Spatial Thinking

1. Students compare the present with the past, evaluating the consequences of past events and decisions and determining the lessons that were learned.

Historical Interpretation

1. Students show the connections, causal and otherwise, between particular historical events and larger social, economic, and political trends and developments.

4. Students understand the meaning, implication, and impact of historical events and recognize that events could have taken other directions.

CA Content Standards for American History:

11.1 Students analyze the significant events in the founding of the nation and its attempts to realize the philosophy of government described in the Declaration of Independence.

11.1.3 Understand the history of the Constitution after 1787 with emphasis on federal versus state authority and growing democratization

Common Core Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies:

1. Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.

2. Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.

3. Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to describe differences between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton's political views and explain how Jefferson did and did not act within those ideals during his administration.

Additional Learning Outcomes

Students will complete summary questions that synthesize the lesson material and ask them to evaluate Jefferson's actions during his administration through the lens of his Democratic-Republican values.


  1. Day 1 – 5 minutes

    Warm Up:

    Have students write, draw, or discuss (in pairs) their answer to the following question:

    What is the biggest political argument or conflict we have today? What side are you on?

  2. Day 1 – 5 minutes


    Distribute handouts "Jefferson in the Government" (see "Related Assets" section below for all handouts and materials). Read the introduction with students and divide them into 4 groups. Provide each group with one set of quote pages (enough for each student). Read directions with students and answer any questions.

  3. Day 1 – 35 minutes

    Lesson Activity:

    Facilitate and answer questions as students read and interpret their quotes by Jefferson and Hamilton. (about 20 minutes)

    As students complete this, renumber students in each group using the number of students in the smallest existing group as your new "count off" number.

    Direct students to go to new groups based on their new number.

    Facilitate and answer questions as students share their information with each other and fill in the information for the other 3 quotes. (about 15 minutes)

    Groups who finish early may individually begin on their summary questions individually.

  4. Day 1 – 1 minute


    Have students move back to their desks.

  5. Day 1 – 10 minutes

    Summation Activity:

    Direct students to complete the summary questions for this section of the lesson plan. Students may share out as time permits in the class period.

  6. Day 2 – 5 minutes

    Warm Up:

    Have students write, draw, or discuss (in pairs) their answer to the following question:

    Is it better for a politician to always do what the people want or to follow their own ideas of what needs to be done?

  7. Day 2 – 25 minutes


    Using the powerpoint presentation "President Jefferson for ELD Students" (link provided in "Related Assets" section below), briefly teach about the major activities and actions of Jefferson's presidency. Direct students to take notes on their handout from yesterday as you lecture.

  8. Day 2 – 10 minutes

    Lesson Activity:

    In groups (either teacher chosen or student chosen as you wish) students should complete the match-up section of their worksheet from the day before, listing Jefferson's beliefs and assessing whether each of the actions from his presidency were in keeping with his political beliefs or not. Provide red and blue crayons, markers, or colored pencils for this part of the lesson.

  9. Day 2 – 10 minutes

    Summation Activity:

    Direct students to individually answer the summary questions on their worksheets (provided in "Related Assets" section below). Students may share out as time in the class period permits.

Related Assets

Handouts and Downloads


Materials Needed

Red and blue crayons, colored pencils, or markers for the class.

Technology Needs

Computer with projector to display a powerpoint file


Teachers may create multiple choice items that evaluate students' knowledge of Jefferson and Hamilton's political beliefs with regards to

– the constitutionality if the Bank

– Constitutional interpretation

– visions for an agrarian vs. industrial future

– views on England

Other multiple choice items can focus on Jefferson's presidency, including:

– Jefferson's departure from his views to purchase Louisiana and create the Embargo

– Jefferson's tolerance of a free press despite personal attacks from Federalist papers

Accommodations – Advanced Learners

Students with an exceptional vocabulary can try interpreting the quotes without the "modern English" translation. Teachers should group them together and make amendments to the worksheets prior to the beginning of the lesson.