Jefferson’s Influences — 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

Cooperative Learning


1 class period

Interdisciplinary Connections

Art history and portraiture



Using images of the portraits and busts in Jefferson’s entrance hallway and parlor, students reveal something of Jefferson’s character and influences, reflect on their own personal heroes, and then compare themselves with Jefferson.

Prior Knowledge

Students should have a working knowledge of Jefferson’s biography. (See “Jefferson Biography for ELD Learners for materials.”

State Standards

CA Skill Standards for Social Studies:

Historical Interpretation

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

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.

Describe the Enlightenment and the rise of democratic ideas as the context in which the nation was founded.

Common Core Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies

7. Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.

9. Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to name major influences on Jefferson’s life and philosophies, both his predecessors and contemporaries, and explain why he admired them.

Additional Learning Outcomes

Students will produce answers to six summary questions (either written or drawn responses) that reflect on Jefferson’s character, identity, and self-expression and juxtapose his with their own.


  1. 5 minutes
    Warm Up:

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

    Name 5 people you think Americans would want to make statues of and put in Washington DC. Why do you think they would be chosen?

  2. 7-10 minutes

    Divide the class into 7 groups, and give each a worksheet packet. (Refer to the Note to Teachers in the worksheet file for how to create these packets.)

    Read the introduction and directions with students. You may want to let students know that their packets will not have every page number and that is OK.

    Answer any questions about the directions.

  3. 28-30 minutes
    The Lesson Activity:

    Facilitate and answer questions as students fill in their art tables with ideas as to why Jefferson may have chosen each person to display in his art collection. (about 15 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 9 pieces of artwork they did not see in their packet. (about 15 minutes)

    Groups who finish early may individually begin on their “Wall” step.

  4. 1 minute

    Have students return to their individual desks with their work.

  5. 20 minutes
    Summation Activity:

    Direct students to individually complete their own “wall” of people on the worksheet in their packet. Facilitate and assist students. (about 10 minutes)

    Direct students to move on to the summary questions on the last page of the packet when they are done with their “wall”. Facilitate and assist students in answering the questions. (about 5 minutes)

    ** Differentiated outcomes: Students may draw symbols or write in word clusters to answer questions as their individual English acquisition level warrants. **

    As time permits in the period, have students share out their answers to the summary questions in a facilitated discussion. (This could also occur the next day if students require extra time to finish their work at home.)

  6. Next day or in review
    Possible Extension / Review Activity:

    If you have the technological capability, project Google Maps on the board and go to Monticello (a search for Monticello, Charlottesville, VA will bring it up). By going to street view you can take a virtual tour inside of Monticello and look at the placement of artwork in the hallway, parlor, and tea rooms. The grouping of these items is particularly interesting and revealing, potentially generating a good review discussion among students.

Related Assets

Handouts and Downloads


Materials Needed

Copies of the worksheets arranged in 7 packets. (See A Note to Teachers in the worksheet pdf for instructions.)



Finish worksheet components “My Wall” and “Summary Questions” if not completed in class.


The responses to summary questions 2, 5, and 6 are most important to assessing students’ understanding of the lesson objectives. Assess those as you would according to your grading and point scales.

Multiple choice items on a summative test should focus on Jefferson’s choice of explorers and philosophers in his art and draw upon the reasons behind the decisions to include Hamilton and Napoleon as juxtaposition to Jefferson and Alexander I.