5th Grade New York

Declaration of Independence

This fifth-grade annotated inquiry asks why countries declare their independence. As an integral early step in the process of becoming independent, a declaration of independence functions as an argument for why people should be free. This inquiry focuses on the argument made in the United States Declaration of Independence. With a firm understanding of the American colonists’ argument for independence, the inquiry shifts to students conducting research on declarations of independence in other parts of the Western Hemisphere.

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Compelling Question:

Why Do Countries Declare Independence?

Staging the Question: Part 1: Teacher facilitates a breakup letter activity and discussion to introduce the three-part structure of the Declaration of Independence.
Part 2: Students complete pre-read predictions in a think-pair-share activity.
1

Supporting Question What are the two big philosophical ideas in the Declaration of Independence?

Formative Task Summarize the two big philosophical ideas of national sovereignty and natural rights as described in part 1 of the Declaration of Independence.

Sources Source A: Part 1 of the Declaration of Independence: Preamble

2

Supporting Question What grievances did the colonists have with King George III?

Formative Task What grievances did the colonists have with King George III?

Sources Source A: Part 2 of the Declaration of Independence: Grievances

3

Supporting Question How does the Declaration of Independence make an argument for independence?

Formative Task Rewrite the argument made by the colonists in the Declaration of Independence.

Sources Source A: Part 3 of the Declaration of Independence: Conclusion

4

Supporting Question How do declarations of independence from other countries in the Western Hemisphere compare with the United States Declaration of Independence?

Formative Task Compare the approaches used in one or more countries in the Western Hemisphere to declare independence with the approach used in the United States Declaration of Independence.

Sources Source A: Table of independence declarations in Latin America
Source B: Source packets: Declarations of independence material for Haiti, Venezuela, and Mexico

Summative Performance Task

Argument: Why do countries declare independence? Construct an argument (e.g., detailed outline, poster, or essay) that addresses the compelling question using specific claims and relevant evidence from historical sources.
Extension: Create a comic strip that adapts the argument for why countries declare independence.

Taking Informed Action

Understand: List the grievances of an independence movement happening in the world today.
Assess: Make a T-chart with reasons for and against independence in a place seeking independence today.
Act: Hold an open forum focused on a present-day independence movement.