Jefferson’s Gardens: A Landscape of Opportunities / Instructions for the Unit

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



Through the voices of individuals working at Monticello, students will learn about Jefferson's passion for gardening and complete flower and vegetable experiments/projects.  Students will also learn how to do calligraphy and construct a petit-format book similar to those that Jefferson read at his summer retreat, Poplar Forest.

Prior Knowledge

Students will use online resourcesat the Monticello classroom site and other related resources to complete the projects within this unit.

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

The overall goal for this unit is for students to become independent, creative thinkers to achieve a final product for each section (create their own seed packets; complete a vegetable experiment; learn the art of calligraphy; and create their own petit-format book).

Technology Connections/outcomes

This section is coordinated with the Introduction to Project-Based Learning

And the following lessons on Jefferson's Gardens: A Landscape of Opportunities:

1. A Perpetuating Flower Garden

2. An Experimental Vegetable Garden

3. Jefferson: Creating Personal Space for Self-Reflection

4. The Art of Calligraphy

Additional Learning Outcomes

This unit is intended to be a long-term project-based learning experience in which students will assume the role of historians and utilize inquiry-based thinking skills similar to Jefferson.

Essential Questions

Each section (Jefferson's Gardens: A Landscape of Opportunities, Sections 1-4) poses questions and discussions for the students/class.


  1. Refer to "Handouts and Downloads": Instructions for the Unit.

Related Assets

Handouts and Downloads


Refer to each section in Jefferson's Gardens: A Landscape of Opportunities ppts. for questions, discussions, project and experiment descriptions.