Author: Diane Luke
Time travel is possible! What better way to travel through time then to use the internet to explore the past of our country, the United States of America.
You wake up one morning to find that you share a bed with four of your sisters or brothers. All of you share one quilt, but it is quite cozy and warm. It is still pitch black out when you hear your Mother call you to wake up and get dressed. As you stumble out of bed you see your siblings dressing in odd clothes and as there is only one set left you guess it is yours. After a struggle to dress you wearily climb down a ladder from the loft in which you have been sleeping. The site that meets your eyes is a surprise. There is one giant room with a huge fireplace. Next to the fireplace is an equally large table. In one corner is a small bed covered with another beautiful quilt. Hanging from the rafters are dried vegetables, herbs and flowers. Your Mother is cooking a huge breakfast inside the massive fireplace.
What has happened? Why are you here? You ask your Mother the year. She looks at you confused and replies, "Why 1787, of course!"
You have been brought here to take a journey through an epic time in the history of the United States. Lean back and enjoy the ride as you take on the role of someone from a past era...
So what are you going to do now that you are back in time? Thankfully not the chores!
Task #1: 1787
You will be given an individual persona from one of the thirteen states. Your teacher will assign your persona and state. These personas will consist of the following: Merchant, Plantation Owner, Upper Class Woman, Farmer, Farm Wife, Slave, Freed Slave, Trapper, and Native American. Personas will be assigned a state dependant on the appropriateness. For example a plantation owner will not be assigned the state of New York, as large plantations were not common in this area. You will then write a letter to the Federal Convention expressing your ideas, concerns and questions regarding the new Constitution. You will base your ideas according to your persona and the state in which you inhabit.
Task #2: 1787 and After
You will be divided by your teacher so that approximately five student personas are located in each chosen state. For this task you will join members of your class from the same colony to form a group. Your group will research the period of ratification. Then you will write a mini-drama as if you are in a town-hall meeting discussing the possible ratification of the Constitution for your state. The dramaís are short in length but must include information pertinent not only to your persona but also to your stateís position on ratification.
You have been transported to the year 1787 and have heard the news that men from all the states will be gathering in Philadelphia to re-write the Articles of Confederation. This is now your chance to have your opinions, concerns and worries addressed by the delegates of the United States. You decide to write a letter to the Federal Convention expressing your thoughts. Use the following guide to help you on your way:
1. The teacher has assigned you a persona and a state. You must write your letter from the perspective of this persona and state.
2. You may use the internet resources provided, textbook, library, and experts to help you with any research you need in order to make your letter authentic for the time period.
3. You must address any concerns you have about a new constitution, what you would like to see included in this new constitution and also include at least one question you would like answered by the delegates. Include any other information you feel is necessary in consideration of your persona or state.
4. The letter must be handwritten.
5. The letter must be at least one page long and no more then two pages.
The Constitution has now been written and sent to the various states for ratification. As a group you must consider your stateís position on ratification. You will write a mini-drama that takes place at a town-hall meeting for the purpose of discussion on ratification. Each member of your group must retain their persona identities from the previous task. In your drama discuss why or why not your state should ratify the Constitution, anything you feel should be added before your state will ratify and comments on contentment vs. discontentment of what looks like what will now be your future government. Keep in mind the following:
1. You must give everyone at least two lines to speak. Be creative and realize that you might have to bend the authenticity a slight bit. (For example if you are a slave from South Carolina you would probably not be speaking at a town-meeting, but for our purpose you will be able to have that right)
2. The drama should last between 5-8 minutes. You will have points taken off for not falling within the time range.
3. Use your previous research to help you with the reaction of your personas. As a group you will need to research your stateís ratification. You may use the internet sources provided, textbook, library and experts to help you with this research.
5. You will present these mini-dramas to the class. You will also be required to turn in a copy of your script. This must be typed.
6. Donít be afraid to use your imagination, appropriate humor and natural creativity.
Avalon Project at Yale Law School (The Federalist Papers)
The University of Oklahoma Law Center (The Articles of Confederation)
The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787
The National Archives Experience
PBS: Revolution- The Constitution and New America
History Channel: Constitution
The Plantation System
A Classification of American Wealth
Daily Life in the Colonies
The Southern Colonies (Links to sites about the South)
The New England Colonies (Links to sites about the North)
The Middle Colonies (Links to sites about the colonies in the Middle)
All tasks require evaluation. This way you are able to determine how well you performed. It is also essential for teachers to have a clear grading system in order to produce a proper assessment. Two rubrics have been provided for this purpose:
Rubric 1 (Individual Task): Will open in Microsoft Word
Rubric 2 (Group Task): Will open in Microsoft Word
You have safely arrived back in the current year! Congratulations, you have completed a journey that has provided you with a look into the minds of not only the important law-makers of the time, but more importantly the minds of the average individual.
Would you want to continue living in this era?
What did you like best about this era of history? Least?
Do you think the delegates of the Federal Convention did the best job possible?
Do you think the states were right to ratify the Constitution?
These are all points to ponder as you reorient yourself to the present. Thank you for taking this journey!