Jefferson’s International Relevance: Political Parties

Lesson Plan


Grade Level

Middle School

Author Info

Melissa Mitchem
Casablanca American School
Route de la Mecque, Lotissement Ougoug, Quartier Californie
Casablanca, MA 20150

Type of Lesson

Document Analysis


2-3 class periods



In this lesson, students will draw connections between the formation of American political parties, political parties in other countries, and the concept of group work (its limitations and benefits). They will examine the tensions in early American history that led to the rise of political parties- the creation of a national bank, the relationship the young United States should have with its former enemy Great Britain, the size and strength of the national government versus the state government, agrarian society versus a manufacturing and commercial one, the Whiskey Rebellion, and perspectives on the French Revolution- and read primary source excerpts from the leaders of these nascent political parties- Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Adams. Then students will bridge these rich details from early American history and apply some of the trends to political situations in other countries. They will end by considering the ramifications of political parties and deciding if they are worth the trouble.

Prior Knowledge

This lesson is designed for students in international or American schools abroad as well as students in the United States with limited exposure to American studies and history. It is designed for an American history class, but depending on the curriculum, it could be adapted to suit a world history classroom. Students who have been studying the beginnings of American republic and the Constitutional Convention will find this lesson relevant. A prior textbook reading on George Washington’s presidency and exposure to 18th century primary sources are recommended prior to this lesson but not imperative.

State Standards

Virginia Standards of Learning: 6th Grade US History to 1865

USI.7 The student will demonstrate knowledge of the challenges faced by the new nation by

a) identifying the weaknesses of the government established by the Articles of Confederation;

b) describing the historical development of the Constitution of the United States

c) describing the major accomplishments of the first five presidents of the United States

Common Core Social Studies: English/Language Arts Standards –History/Social Studies- Grades 6-8

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes

Students will understand:

-that working collectively has its benefits and consequences.

Students will know:

-the characteristics of and issues of difference between the Federalists and the Republicans.

-the key people involved in the formation of American political parties, such as Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Adams.

-the characteristics and issues of difference between political parties of another country.

Students will be able to:

-read and analyze primary sources documents.

-apply the concept of political parties to political situations in other countries.

-debate the value of political parties in government.


  1. 10-15 minutes

    *All Worksheets can be found in the "Jefferson's International Relevance: Political Parties Lesson Plan" in "Related Assets" section under Handouts and Downloads.

    Warm-Up:Project slide three on the PowerPoint “JIR: Political Parties,” and pass out the half sheet of paper entitled “Warm-Up: Working in Group” for students to work on. Give them a few minutes to work on that and then discuss their answers. Tell students that the focus of today’s lesson will be on the benefits and challenges of working with other people but in terms of a specific process that occurred in early American history: the formation of political parties.

  2. 25-30 minutes
    Notes:Pass out the fill-in-the-blank notes, and project slides four through eleven. Go through the events surrounding the formation of political parties. During the lecture and particularly the “actions of Jefferson and Hamilton” slide, ask students questions about what the effects of these actions would be on people working with them. Emphasize how people associated characteristics of political parties with politicians. Ask students if Hamilton or Jefferson could have done what they did without like-minded people.
  3. 20-25 minutes
    Political Party Perspectives:Pass out the handout “Political Party Perspectives.” Tell students that they will be reading primary documents, each written by one of the founders of political parties. With the students, go through one excerpt. Model how to read a primary source. Then summarize the author’s perspective. Have students work in pairs or individually for the other three excerpts.

  4. 20-25 minutes
    Political Thoughts- Processing Activity:Pass out the handout “Political Thoughts.” Tell students that they are to use their notes and worksheet on political party perspectives to write in the big ideas and draw pictures inside of the head outlines. Students need to include at least three words or phrases and one image for each political party founder. This should be completed individually, but students should be encouraged to talk out their ideas with a neighbor. Present work if time permits.

  5. Timing depends
    Choice Chart:Pass out the worksheet “Choice Chart.” The teacher can divide this assignment into classwork, homework, or a long-term project. Students should select one task to complete from each category. The assignment is designed to allow students to complete tasks based on their interests but also ensure that all students meet the same content objectives.

Related Assets

Handouts and Downloads


Materials Needed

-Computer and projector


-PowerPoint Presentation (“Jefferson's International Relevance: Political Parties”)

-Coloring Utensils

-Worksheets (“Warm-Up: Working in Groups,” “Notes: Formation of American Political Parties,” “Analyzing Perspectives,” “Processing Political Parties,” “Choice Chart,” and “Global Political Parties Current Events Guide”) – all found within "Jefferson's International Relevance: Political Parties Lesson Plan"

Technology Needs

-Computer is needed for PowerPoint


The “Choice Chart” serves as the assessment in this lesson. The teacher can focus on the formation of political parties portion if he/she chooses.


Accommodations – Students with Special Needs

-Allow students to pick items from the “Choice Chart” to complete based on their own interests.

-Use the “Check-In Ballot” to determine which students are struggling to grasp the information, and then modify the “Choice Chart” as necessary to meet their needs. For example, have the struggling learner focus more time on “Founding of American Political Parties” category.

-Have students work on summarizing primary source excerpts in groups (random or structured by the teacher).