We’ve Totally Been Here – A look at Five Visitors to Monticello Throughout Five Different Time Periods in American History

Lesson Plan


Grade Level

Middle School

Author Info

Jared Morris
Madison County Schools
Madison, VA 22727

Type of Lesson



45-90 Minutes depending grouping



Lesson Overview: This lesson looks at visitors to Monticello during five different time periods throughout Thomas Jefferson’s life. The lesson gives students an idea of travel to Monticello, life at Monticello, and, finally, a look at larger issues in American History at the time of each visitor.

State Standards

USI.1a – identify and interpret primary source documents

USI.6c – Key events and roles of key individuals of the American Revolution

USI.7c – describing major accomplishments of the first five presidents

USI.8a – the Lewis and Clark Expedition

USI.9a – describing cultural, economic, and constitutional issues that divided the nation

Objectives/Learning Outcomes

Objectives: By the end of the lesson students:

1) describe travel to, and life at, Monticello

2) identify the importance and chronology of:

  • Cornwallis in Virginia (End of American Revolution)
  • Election of 1796 (Political Parties)
  • Impressment of U.S. Sailors (A Cause of War of 1812)
  • Battle of New Orleans (War of 1812)
  • Building of the Erie Canal (Great Lakes to NYC)

Essential Questions

Why and how did people travel to Jefferson’s Monticello? What were their impressions of life at Monticello? What were some larger events/issues in American history during these visits?


  1. 45-90 Minutes (Depending on Grouping and Skill Level)

    Preparation: There are five guests at five different time periods. Students can be arranged and grouped however the teacher sees fit. Examples: Five separate groups made up of five students each where each student has a computer and a guest. (or) Five groups made up of five students each where one group of five students is assigned a computer and one guest each.


    1) Pass out the Time Traveler Report Sheets. Have the groups navigate through the "We've Totally Been Here" PowerPoint. (See Handouts and Downloads under "Related Assets") Make sure they are researching the visit of their assigned guest.

    2) Time Traveler Report Sheet – Students fill out their report sheets front and back. The front side deals mostly with the actual visit. The back portion deals with a major issue/event of the time period.This activity will be the bulk of the lesson.

    3) When all groups are finished, have them collaborate with the other students or groups to determine the chronological order of the guests/events. Then, if there is more than one person representing the guest/event, have one representative from each group stand in chronological order with the others in front of the class.

    4) Time Traveler Report -At this time, in order, you can have them report on all of their findings on the actual visit or simply the major event or issue of the time period.

Related Assets

Handouts and Downloads


The "Time Traveler Timeline Report" will act as the assessment for this lesson. Exit slips could also be used by asking students to list three points of knowledge gained from their research about Monticello and its visitors and listing the five main issue/events in chronological order.