Laura Applegate

Kozero EDU 215.2

15 September 2010


Lesson Title: Sign Your John Hancock: The Signers of the Declaration of Independence

Grade Level, Class Size, Time: Grade 5, 24 students, 4 class sessions/45 minutes per session

Materials Needed:

      24 youth t-shirts

      24 pencils

      24 erasers

      24 permanent markers

      24 packs of fabric markers

      24 sheets of plain white copy paper


      24 sheets of tracing paper

      24 images of signers

      24 plastic bags

      1 iron

      1 ironing board



Teacher Prep:

      Prior to the beginning of this project, students will gain an understanding of what the Declaration of Independence is, be able to describe the various parts of the Declaration and their purpose, as well as understand why such a document was written and what it means for our history today.

      Students will have the opportunity to research one of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence of their choice in the school library, finding biographical facts they will need for the project.

      Teacher will need to find images of each signer chosen by the students that will be used, prior to the start of the project.

Concept & Competencies:

      Concept: Biography explores the life of an individual. (Taken from SAS website)

      Competency: Analyze the interaction of cultural, economic, geographic, political, and social relations for an American from whom we can learn. (Taken from SAS website)

      Standard: 8.3.3.A: Identify and describe the social, political, cultural, and economic contributions of individuals and groups in United States history.

      As a result of this lesson, students will be expected to know what the Declaration of Independence is, why it was written, what it means for United States history, as well as brief biographical background on some of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

      Students will be able to define vocabulary words such as declaration, independence, unalienable, rights, Philadelphia, PA, colonies, founding fathers, freedom, Declaration of Independence, and continental congress.

      The skill students will be expected to do will be to design a t-shirt about one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, using simple trace and transfer as well as fabric markers.

      This will support and challenge students because students will be allowed to choose which signer of the Declaration of Independence they would like to research and they will be able to be creative in the process of designing their t-shirts and incorporating important biographical facts about their historical figure.


      The Big Idea: The history of the United States continues to influence its citizens, and has impacted the rest of the world. (Taken from SAS website)

o   It is important for students to understand that there are many individuals who were integral in the creation of the Declaration of Independence and in the establishment of the United States as an independent country, which continues to have an impact on todays world.

o   One scenario I might ask students, to help promote inquiry is, Think about how your life would be different had the Declaration of Independence never been written.

      Essential Questions: How can the story of another American, past or present, influence your life?

      I will motivate the students to do the t-shirt, by having them each research one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. I will ensure that every t-shirt is not the same by having the children choose their signer and sign up so that no other student may sign up for the same person. Students will not only draw an image of their signer on the front of the t-shirt, but will also include facts about their specific signer on the back of the t-shirt.



      Students will work independently at their individual desks on this project.

      Students will gather all of their necessary materials one row at a time.

      Students will gather around a table in the back of the classroom to watch the teacher demonstrate the project. The teacher will demonstrate various ways that they can design their t-shirts, explaining to them to make their shirts as colorful and creative as possible, as well as writing the words large enough for everyone to see. The teacher will use Benjamin Franklin as an example to demonstrate how to create the t-shirt.

      The teacher will demonstrate the trace and transfer method, by taking an image of Ben Franklin, a sheet of tracing paper, and a sheet of copy paper.

      The teacher will trace the image onto the tracing paper and will demonstrate how to transfer this image to the plain sheet of copy paper. The teacher will also demonstrate what will happen it the procedure is not followed correctly.

      The teacher will demonstrate that the students are to outline the transferred image with the permanent marker.

o   Students will be expected to include a portrait image of their signer on the front of the t-shirt and important biographical facts and/or quotes about the signer on the back of the t-shirt.

      Finally the students will be instructed to stop after this step and when they are completed they are to return all of their materials to the appropriate places, and place their t-shirt and images in the plastic bag, and put their bag on the table in the back of the classroom.


Assessment & Closing Dialogue:

      Students will share their finished t-shirts with the class. They will present their t-shirt to the class and tell three important facts about their individual signer.

      The teacher will assess the t-shirts for completeness and accuracy. The teacher will also assess the students through observation of cooperative group work, i.e., fair sharing of materials, enjoyment in helping other classmates.

      As a closing activity, students will reflect on the lesson in a short journal entry on the following prompt, Would you sign the Declaration if it were put in front of you today? Why or why not? Give several reasons.

Strategies for Diverse Learners:

      This lesson could be modified for a student who is an English Language Learner. This student would be paired with another student who is fluent in English. Each student would complete his or her own t-shirts, but the monitoring student would ensure that the ELL student is completing the project correctly. The teacher will also check in on the ELL student frequently to make sure he/she has no issues with completing the t-shirt.


* The biographical information on the back of the demonstration t-shirt was taken from the following website:

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