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This Social Studies lesson involving writing letters to the president
Language Arts, Social Studies
Letter to the President
4 th and 5 th grade
Monday, October 10, 1996, 20minutes, throughout a two-week period
Students will decide on a name and identity as a letter writer. They will write to the President discussing what might have been their concerns or criticisms about the government during the time period. They will be able to understand historical events and how they may have affected their character as a farmer, teenager, Native American, etc.
Lined paper, writing utensils, reference books, history text, political science text, supplementary texts or references.
Discuss with the class, what the new United States government was like in 1800. Recap how the new government was developed and how the process works. Brainstorm different citizens that lived in our new country at that time. For example, tobacco farmer, teenager, unemployed factory worker, mother, officer, immigrant from Italy, etc.
- Working in pairs, decide on a name and identity for the letter writer. Decide where the letter writer lives and what problems worry this person. Write a letter to the President dated 1800 telling him what your problems are and questioning him about how his programs will affect you, your family, and your region. Discuss the new government, focusing on how you think that process would affect you.
- Work with another pair and share your thoughts and ideas. Together, edit and proofread each other’s letters. Make corrections and finalize your letter. Turn in the letters to the teacher.
- Your group will choose a classmates’ letter and respond to it. Tell the letter writer how you feel about his or her problems. Explain what you plan to do as President. Include when, why and how.
The class will share their letters and responses. Afterwards, the children will reflect in their journals about the different concerns and interests of different citizens in that political time period.
Students will fill out a peer assessment form as well as one about themselves. The teacher will have monitored their cooperation and contributions. Using their peer assessments and rubric ratings of 1-5, the teacher will determine each students score as well as a group score. Combine the two for total grade out of 10.
When studying a different or the contemporary time period, change the characters to fit the new time set. You could also adapt this lesson to fit the upcoming election. Make the letter to your congressperson discussing your concerns about the candidates and issues.
American odyssey: The United States in the twentieth century . Macmillan/McGraw-Hill Publishing Company. (1992).