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The Coming of the American Revolution: 1764 to 1776

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Lesson for Core Concept #6: Consequences of Individual Choices

Stacia Smith, Paxton Center Middle School, MA

At some point, each colonist had to face the individual dilemma of whether to remain loyal to the Crown or resist, knowing that his choice would have consequences.

“Revolutionary League Draft Picks”


Student groups representing the “Patriots” and the “Tories” draft players (actually historical characters or groups represented in primary source documents) to their teams based upon their professed or implied allegiance to either the Patriot or Tory cause as evidenced by the documents linked to Core Concept 6 (note: a player may consist of a group, e.g., “Selectmen of...,” “Inhabitants of the Town of...”).

The procedure for this draft will follow the one established for the National Football League in that: 1) each round will be timed, with fewer minutes allowed for each successive round, and 2) once players have been drafted by a team, they are no longer draft-eligible.

In order to successfully draft a player, the student groups must find and record direct quotations demonstrating their player’s leaning toward either the Patriot or Tory side (from primary source documents) on a Draft Evaluation Form. The teams must also complete a Document Analysis Worksheet for each pick.

There will be three to five rounds (based upon the amount of time the teacher wishes to spend); each team must draft (three to) five total players.

When the “draft” is over, the teacher should lead a debriefing session with the class to discuss which teams potentially have the strongest “starting lineups,” and which teams potentially may have loyalty issues (with players seeking a “trade” to another team).

One to three class periods should be allotted for this activity.

The teacher should assess students based upon quality of research submitted and evidence that the team has all worked diligently together.

Alternate Activity:

The primary source documents linked to this concept could easily provide material for a debate format between teams of students. Arguments could be made citing evidence from the crucial documents to advocate for either the Tory or Patriot cause – using the actual words of Revolutionary-era colonists.

  1. Divide students into five groups (ideally of approximately five students each). There are 25 documents to explore on the list for this concept; each team should have 7-10 documents chosen by the teacher. To make the activity work, some of those documents can be unique to each group; some should be the same as those given to other groups so that they are competing for players.
  2. Assign or allow students to choose to be either a “Tory” or “Patriot” team.
  3. Read/explain the Lesson Overview.
  4. Orient all students to The Massachusetts Historical Society’s website, The Coming of the American Revolution (1764 – 1776)
  5. Give students ten minutes to prepare their first round draft choice–students will need access to the internet/MHS Timeline and copies of the “Document Analysis Worksheet” and “Draft Evaluation Form.”
  6. Each member of each student team must assist in each draft pick–the group should assign each of its members a different crucial primary source document to analyze utilizing the Document Analysis Worksheet and Draft Evaluation Form.
  7. Before the ten minutes are up, group members should rank their five draft choices from the individual group members’ work (with the understanding that if one of their player choices is taken by another team, a lesser choice may need to be made).
  8. The teacher should randomly assign a draft order (1–5) for the groups.
  9. The first team should make its first choice, after which the second team makes its choice, and so on. Accompanying the draft choice must be a properly completed “Document Analysis Worksheet” and “Draft Evaluation Form” with the group and student names noted.
  10. If a team is not ready to make a decision when its turn is called, the team can submit its selection after its time is up, but the next team can pick before it, thus possibly stealing a player the later team may have been eyeing.
  11. Seven minutes will be afforded for round two, and five minutes for rounds three, four and five.
  12. Players chosen by each team in each draft round should be posted on a black or whiteboard for all teams to track who has been selected, and to determine whether or not more research needs to be done.
  13. When all player/revolutionaries have been chosen, the teacher should hold a debriefing session discussing the five draft choices made by each team – and analyzing each team’s perceived strengths and weaknesses as a result of their composition.
  14. Extend the activity by having each student group choose a “captain” from their five drafted players – the group should identify what strengths the captain possesses that afforded them the honor.
  15. Students should be assessed on the individual and collective strength and quality of the Document Analysis Worksheet and Draft Evaluation Form.


PDF document of PDF of Draft Evaluation Form

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