Hashtag- What Would Thomas Jefferson’s Instagram Stream Reveal about Him?

Lesson Plan

Title: Hashtag- What Would Thomas Jefferson’s Instagram Stream Reveal about Him?

Challenge Question: By analyzing different photos that reveal aspects of Thomas Jefferson’s life, what do you think his interests are and what do they reveal about him as a human being?

Grade Level: Middle (6-8)

Author Information:

Name: Lindsey Charron
School: Horace Ensign Intermediate School
School Address: 2000 Cliff Dr.
City: Newport Beach
State: California

Lesson Type: Pair and Whole Class

Lesson plan overview: A person’s online social media presence can reveal a great deal about his or her interests, political views, and personality. In this lesson, students will analyze a number of different images that reveal what Thomas Jefferson’s social media presence might have looked like on Instagram.  As they look at Jefferson’s Instagram images and read through a number of primary and secondary source documents that are linked to these images, they will fill out a graphic organizer. Once they have completed this, they will decide whether or not he would have kept certain interests/aspects of his life public or private and why in a series of short answer questions.

Prior Knowledge: Students will need to have some prior knowledge of the history of slavery in the United States and Thomas Jefferson’s role as writer of the Declaration of Independence, secretary of state under George Washington and vice-president under John Adams.

Objectives/Rationale: From this lesson, I expect students to come away with a better understanding of who Thomas Jefferson was as a person. I want my students to understand that he was a man with complex views and many different interests that helped shaped the positions he took with the Democratic-Republican Party.

Outcomes: Students will have practice analyzing primary source documents and citing textual evidence to support a claim that they make.


  1. Anticipatory Set: Warm-up question and think/pair/share (ten minutes): If a stranger looked at your social media presence, what would that person say about you after looking at the images you have posted? What different interests would the person say you had? (Students will have time to write our their response, and then they will turn to their partner and share their response.) Afterwards, the teacher will use cold call questioning to review the students’ answers. The teacher will then present a group of images on the board and ask students what they think this person’s interests might be. The teacher will use cold call questioning to review these answers.
  2. Review (five minutes) Teacher will briefly review the proceedings of the Continental Congress meetings that led to the signing of the Declaration of Independence and Thomas Jefferson’s role in those meetings.
  3. Purpose/Modeling (thirty minutes): The teacher will then explain that the students will be going through an imaginary Instagram feed of Thomas Jefferson’s to explore what his interests were and to develop a better understanding of who he was as a human being. The teacher will lead the class through analyzing one of the images, which will be linked up to different primary source questions, and they will answer questions on a graphic organizer together about the image. Then students will be broken up into pairs using a classroom appointment map. Working in pairs, the students will then go through a series of seven other images and read through the primary source documents related to them to answer questions on a graphic organizer.
  4. Closure/Checking for Understanding (fifteen minutes): Teacher will use cold call questioning to review the different aspects of Jefferson’s life that students discovered while analyzing the images. Students will then work individually on the short answer questions to end the activity as well as an exit ticket. The teacher might also use to ask the class which of Jefferson’s interests do you think the citizens living during this time period would want to know more about.



  • Graphic Organizer
  • Website:

 Assessment criteria:

 Short answer questions at the end of this activity

  • Exit Ticket


For English Language Learners:

  • Modify the primary source documents for English language learners
  • Assign a peer tutor to a group
  • Shorten the number of images pairs have to analyze

For GATE Students:

  • Have students create a presentation showcasing Jefferson’s interests
  • Have students create a common craft video that explain Thomas Jefferson’s many interests.