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Teacher Resources by Grade
|1st - 2nd||3rd - 4th|
|5th - 6th||7th - 8th|
|9th - 10th||11th - 12th|
Myth and Truth: Independence Day
|Grades||3 – 5|
|Lesson Plan Type||Standard Lesson|
|Estimated Time||Three 50-minute sessions|
Most Americans think of the Fourth of July as Independence Day—but is it really the day the United States declared its independence? This lesson explores all the dates and stories associated with the Declaration of Independence, focusing on the reason there are so many different dates and signings of the document and why we celebrate the nation's birthday on July 4th rather than one of the other dates. Students first freewrite and discuss questions about how to tell truth from fiction. They then listen to the Schoolhouse Rock song “Fireworks” and discuss how information in the lyrics compares with what they know about the Independence Day holiday. Finally, students research to find the truth behind common myths about Independence Day and the signing of the Declaration of Independence and present their findings to the class.
Common Myths about the Fourth of July: This handout lists several myths about Independence Day and the signing of the Declaration of Independence that students can investigate.
In his reflection on teaching reading in the social studies classroom, Richard H. Chant asserts: "As much as content-area teachers need to enhance their students' reading proficiency, reading teachers can (and should) enhance subject matter content through their selection of strategies and texts." This lesson promotes just that by encouraging critical thinking and research to understand the historical context of a holiday.
Historical events and holidays frequently seem like absolute truth to students; yet behind such events are many possible truths, myths, and stories, allowing us to discover who we were as people and who we are today. Although few young people realize it, understanding these truths and myths illuminates the ways that their values and beliefs have been shaped by the stories they have grown up knowing, by the education they have received, and by the landscape within which they have lived. All these contexts have contributed to their world views as individuals, as members of families, and as members of communities.
Chant, Richard H. "Is It More than a Supporting Role? Reflections on the Teaching of Reading from a Social Studies Teacher Educator." Voices from the Middle 17.1. (September 2009): 51-53.