Monticello High School
1400 Independence Way
Charlottesville, VA 22902
80 minute class period
Music, archaeology, gardening.
Students often find history intangible, especially when it is the study of “dead white guys”. In this lesson, students consider their own personal goals for the future and investigate Thomas Jefferson’s experiences as a young man in order to help them reach their own goals.
Students should have a basic understanding of the Enlightenment, a cultural movement championing the use of reason and scientific study which began in western Europe in the 17th century. Students should also be familiar with analyzing primary and secondary documents for perspective and significance. While knowledge of Thomas Jefferson’s life is not necessary, in this lesson students will share their current knowledge and by the end of the lesson they should learn more about the man who achieved so much.
Virginia and US History:
VUS.1 The student will demonstrate skills for historical and geographical analysis, including the ability toa)identify, analyze, and interpret primary and secondary source documents, records, and data, including artifacts, diaries, letters, photographs, journals, newspapers, historical accounts, and art to increase understanding of events and life in the United States;
World History and Geography 1500 to Present:
WHII.6 The student will demonstrate knowledge of scientific, political, economic, and religious changes during the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries bya) explaining the political, religious, and social ideas of the Enlightenment and the ways in which they influenced the founders of the United States;
Common Core Standards
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.2Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.7Integrate 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.
Students will understand that:
Students will know:
Students will be able to:
This lesson can easily be delivered in a digital format with handouts instead of through hardcopies of each source.
Students should leave this lesson with a better understanding of the Enlightenment, Thomas Jefferson’s youth and accomplishments, and ways to better prepare themselves to achieve their own goals.
How did Thomas Jefferson become the man who accomplished all that he did?Was he born into greatness because of wealth and aristocracy? Was he successful due to inherited genius or an easy life? Or did Jefferson have to work hard to became one of America’s most famous men? Can we use the example of Jefferson’s life to help us achieve our own personal goals, or was he too different from us? If we can, what does Jefferson have to teach us?
When students finish, have groups/individuals share in a whole-class discussion. If needed, offer additional accomplishments for the students to consider (see ‘Accomplishments of Thomas Jefferson handout teacher sample’). Determine whether there are differences in the placement and presence of accomplishments on their organizers, and if so, discuss why.
Then, ask students why they think Jefferson was able to do so much. Ask them if it was due to Jefferson’s wealth or birth, his good fortune and genius, or something else. Finally, give students a few minutes to brainstorm and record all possible explanations for why Jeffeson was able to accomplish so much. Discuss these responses, time permitting.
When students complete the first station area, have them rotate to the second station area. Note: In large classes, it is advisable to set up multiple “Central Virginia” and “Williamsburg” Station areas to maintain groups of four or fewer students.
Assign the Thomas Jefferson handbook guide activity for students who did not complete this activity during class if you wish.
Collect and grade ‘Goals and Aspirations’ handout for formative assessment. Have students complete an essay prompt on Jefferson’s accomplishments and the ways in which his life can help us achieve our own goals as a summative assessment. Require students to cite at least three pieces of evidence when crafting their arguments.
The station packets can be modified to consist exclusively of visual documents for English Language Learners and students with disabilities. For students or classes struggling to accurately interpret primary documents, teachers can replace stations independent time with direct instruction or modeling the analysis of one source as a class.
Students may be asked to analyze more than one source at each station. Students who are proficient at analysing documents may be asked to find their own additional documents to supplement the sources at each station. Finally, students who work at a faster rate may be asked to complete an extension anchor activity. Ask students to develop a guidebook for achieving one’s personal goals. Instruct students to write the guidebook from the viewpoint of Thomas Jefferson speaking to a modern audience.