Jefferson’s Gardens: A Landscape of Opportunities: Section 3 – Creating Personal Space for Self-Reflection

Lesson Plan


Grade Level

Middle School

Author Info

Darla Gerlach, EdD
Shaler Area Middle School
1810 Mt. Royal Boulevard
Glenshaw, PA 15101

Type of Lesson



Up to 1 month

Interdisciplinary Connections

This unit correlates with English/Language Arts, Science, Social Studies curricula and Humanities curricula.



Students will understand Jefferson's use of landscape to create both beauty and privacy; the architectural features of his homes at Monticello and summer retreat, Poplar Forest, for solitude, and evidence of how he thought about his own thinking—metacognition.


Prior Knowledge

Students will be provided with information from the Monticello website andinterrelated resources.

State Standards

PA Core Standards: Reading in History & Social Studies (6-8); Reading Informational Texts: CC.8.5.6-8.A,B,D-G,J; Writing in History & Social Studies (6-8); CC.8.6.6-8.A-I.; Reading in Science & Technology (6-8); CC.3.5.6-8C,F-I; Writing in Science & Technology (6-8); CC.3.6.6-8A-I.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes

Students will examine Jefferson's need for personal space and aesthetic privacy at Monticello and Poplar Forest which enabled him to engage in self-reflection.

Technology Connections/outcomes

This section is coordinated with the following sections: Jefferson’s Gardens: A Landscape of Opportunities: Introduction to Project-Based Learning and Instructions to the Unit, as well as:

Lesson 1 – APerpetuating Flower Garden

Lesson 2 – An Experimental Vegetable Garden

Lesson 4 – The Art of Calligraphy

Additional Learning Outcomes

Students will understand and appreciate Jefferson's need for personal space and habit of reflective thinking. Students will create a petit-format book which exemplifies a topic of their personal interest.

Essential Questions

After viewing photos of Jefferson's "personal spaces" at Monticello and Poplar Forest, what can you conclude about his personality? Compare/contrast what personal space means to you. Reflect on events that occur throughoutyour day specifically your efforts at school. Jefferson was a detailed thinker, always "thinking about thinking"; writing reflective notes. He loathed idleness; share your thoughts about Jefferson's written notes to himself–do you practice reflective thinking on a daily basis?


  1. Refer to "Jefferson's Gardens: Jefferson-Creating Personal Space for Self-Reflection" ppt.

    Reference "Jefferson's Gardens: A Landscape of Opportunities Image Gallery" for further images of Monticello and Poplar Forest.

Related Assets

Handouts and Downloads


Students will create a personal petit-format book.