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Letters from an American farmer

[Detail] Letters from an American Farmer

Lesson Procedure

Activity 1: What Is an American?

Students write a paragraph answering the question "What is an American?

Activity 2: Being an American in 1782

  1. Introduce Crèvecoeur's "What Is an American?".
  2. Discussion question: What does Crèvecoeur's piece tell us about late 18th century America?

Activity 3: Life Histories as Historical Sources

  1. Introduce oral histories as primary sources
  2. Read Using Primary Sources and discuss concepts with students as necessary.
  3. Introduce students to American Life Histories, 1936-1940, in American Memory.
  4. Students read American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940.

Activity 4: Finding a Life History

  1. Modeling:
  2. Give Instructions:
  3. Practice:
    • Students search for a life history by occupation.
    • Students record their search.
    • Students look at their life history through the lens of Crèvecoeur definition using What Is an American? Student Guide.

Activity 5: Making a Biography

Students produce a single page biography. [Sample Biography]

Activity 6: Sharing Life History and Drawing Conclusions

  1. Oral presentations by students.
  2. Each student adds name to wall map.
  3. Class charts lives by Crèvecoeur's categories.
  4. Class discusses how the meaning of being an American had changed.
  5. Students write a paragraph on how the definition has changed.
  6. (Optional) Teacher compiles biographies "What Is an American?"