The Revolutionary War: The Price of Loyalty & Dark Days: Teacher s Guide

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1 The Revolutionary War: The Price of Loyalty & Dark Days: Teacher s Guide Grade Level: 6-8 Curriculum Focus: U.S. History Lesson Duration: One class period Program Description As the war dragged on, the costs to both sides in terms of casualties and economics began to mount. See how the Revolution affected families at home, and learn how the introduction of guerrilla warfare in the South helped the patriots stave off defeat. (Video 4 of The Revolutionary War 5-pack.) Onscreen Questions and Activities Segment 1, The Revolutionary War: The Price of Loyalty Pre-viewing questions: o The name Benedict Arnold has become synonymous with being a traitor. What do you know about Benedict Arnold s background? What prompted him to turn against the Continental army? o As you watch the documentary, keep track of Arnold s personal characteristics and other biographical information that might have played into his decision to betray the Rebels. Post-viewing questions: West Point, New York, was an important fortress to both the Americans and the British because it commanded the Hudson River. What makes a strategic position in war? Consider the location of cities, trade and communication routes, supplies, and the ability to defend or retreat if necessary. Activity: Make a map representing the American and British positions in the summer of Then imagine that you are a British or American general at that time. How would you go about an attack? Why? Segment 2, The Revolutionary War: Dark Days Pre-viewing questions: o Discuss what you know about the southern partisans and Loyalists. o As you watch the documentary, pay attention to the motives and movements of the guerrilla fighters. How did they affect the outcome of the war?

2 The Revolutionary War: The Price of Loyalty & Dark Days: Teacher s Guide 2 Post-viewing questions: More American soldiers died in British prisons of starvation and disease than died on the battlefields. What should the rules of warfare be? How should they be enforced? Activity: Pretend that it s Pick and research an event, battle, or situation. Then write an editorial from either the Loyalist or Patriot point of view. Lesson Plan Student Objectives Students will understand: Newspapers in this country have published written expressions of opinion since the American Revolution. An effective letter to an editor follows a prescribed course and avoids fallacies of reasoning. Materials The Revolutionary War: The Price of Loyalty & Dark Days video and VCR, or DVD and DVD player Samples of contemporary letters to an editor Procedures 1. Share with students several examples of recent letters to the editor. Include samples from local newspapers and national newspapers. 2. Explain that newspapers in this country have published written opinions since the American Revolution. These letters or editorials expressed strong and passionate opinions about our country s fight for independence. Tell students that they are going to write their own letters to the editor as if they were living during the Revolution. Their letters should express their opinions about how the war is going and a desired outcome. Each letter must make clear: where the writer is from the American colonies or Britain; the writer s sympathies loyalist (that is, faithful to the crown) or patriot (that is, favoring the American cause) and support for that position; and the newspaper s sympathies loyalist or patriot. 3. Review with your students the fundamentals of writing a letter to an editor (or of writing an editorial): a) Tell the reader specifically what you are writing in response to usually, to an article, an editorial, or a column previously published in the newspaper. b) Announce your position.

3 The Revolutionary War: The Price of Loyalty & Dark Days: Teacher s Guide 3 c) Give evidence in support of your position, making sure that the details you include are relevant, fair, and reliable. d) Appeal to both a reader s logic and a reader s emotions. e) Acknowledge that the newspaper and some readers may hold an opinion different from yours. Show why your position is superior to theirs; in other words, show what s wrong with their position. f) When appropriate, conclude your letter with a call for action by the readership. 4. Help students select an issue appropriate for a 1780 letter to the editor. Possibilities include the following: John Paul Jones s exploits at sea Benedict Arnold s behavior Guerilla warfare by patriots in the South 5. After students draft their letters to the editor, have them exchange letters with a partner for peer evaluation. Direct students to check each other s letters for the following problems: Insufficient support Unclear organization Overstatement or hyperbole Fallacies of reasoning (such as either-or thinking, red herring, attacking the person instead of the position) 6. Give students an opportunity to revise their drafts before handing them in to you. Discussion Questions 1. Discuss what tactics, if any, the Americans could have used to bring the Native Americans to their side of the war. Do you think this could have changed the colonists relationship with the Native Americans in the years following the war? 2. Benedict Arnold went from being "The Hero of Saratoga" to one of the most infamous traitors in U.S. history. What personal characteristics and events in his life led to his decision to turn against the United States and help the British? 3. Analyze what makes a strategic position in war. Consider the location of cities, trade and communication routes, the availability of food and other supplies, and the ability to defend the position or retreat if necessary. 4. In this segment, we see two examples of breaches in the traditional "treatment sanctioned by civilized warfare." One occurs when British Lieutenant Colonel Tarleton kills every one of American Colonel Buford s surrendering men instead of taking them prisoner. The other occurs when smaller bands of guerilla fighters called partisans attacked the British by sneaking up on them instead of confronting them on an open field. Debate whether it makes sense for armies to comply with rules of warfare, or is the ultimate goal of warfare to win at all costs, and therefore

4 The Revolutionary War: The Price of Loyalty & Dark Days: Teacher s Guide 4 rules should not apply? If there are to be rules, what areas should they cover: treatment of prisoners and civilians, methods of fighting, and treatment of and reparations to the enemy after the peace treaty is signed? 5. The Southern states had a significant number of loyalists, colonists whose loyalty lay with the king and government of England rather than with an independent American government. Discuss why some colonists would be willing to fight to be independent while others would be willing to fight to remain as British subjects. 6. In the Revolutionary War, the British army had many advantages over the American army: more and better-trained troops, a powerful navy, and a wealthier government to supply the troops with ammunition and supplies. However, the Americans won the war. Analyze the advantages that the Americans did have that made this victory possible. Think not only of the tangible advantages but of the emotional ones as well. Assessment Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students' work during this lesson. 3 points: Student s letter clearly states a timely position; offers significant support for the position; articulately acknowledges but undercuts opposing views; ends with a call for action if appropriate; error-free writing. 2 points: Student s letter adequately states a timely position; offers some support for the position; insufficiently acknowledges or insufficiently undercuts opposing views; ends with a call for action if appropriate; some errors in writing. 1 point: Student letter does not adequately state a position; does not include sufficient support for the position; does not acknowledge and deal with opposing views; omits necessary call for action; many errors in writing. Vocabulary cannonade Definition: A heavy fire of artillery (bombardment). Context: On May 9th, a furious cannonade would erupt between the two armies. Mortar shells crossed and exploded long into the night. column Definition: A long row of soldiers. Context: On May 29th, Lieutenant Colonel Tarleton and his men caught Colonel Abraham Buford s column of 300 Virginians on flat ground with no cover. guerilla Definition: A person who engages in irregular warfare especially as a member of an independent unit carrying out harassment and sabotage.

5 The Revolutionary War: The Price of Loyalty & Dark Days: Teacher s Guide 5 Context: The greatest threat to the British supply lines came from bands of guerilla fighters called partisans. loyalists Definition: One who is or remains loyal especially to a political cause, party, government, or sovereign. Context: American loyalists assured the Crown that unlike troublesome New England, the South was teeming with subjects ready to take up arms for the king. profiteering Definition: Makes what is considered an unreasonable profit on the sale of essential goods during times of emergency. Context: Some Americans were benefiting from the war. Profiteering was rampant. Benedict Arnold was accused of closing down rival shops, forcing people to buy his goods. regiment Definition: A military unit consisting usually of a number of battalions. Context: Within minutes, 2,500 men, four-fifths of the American army, ran away. Only one militia regiment and Dekalb s Maryland and Delaware veterans stayed on the field. treason Definition: The offense of attempting by overt acts to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance or to kill or personally injure the sovereign or the sovereign s family. Context: Most Americans believed the wrong man had been executed, that Andre had paid with his life for Arnold s treason. Academic Standards Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) McREL's Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education addresses 14 content areas. To view the standards and benchmarks, visit This lesson plan addresses the following national standards: U.S. History Revolution and the New Nation: Understands the causes of the American Revolution, the ideas and interests involved in shaping the revolutionary movement, and reasons for the American victory. U.S. History Revolution and the New Nation: Understands the impact of the American Revolution on politics, economy, and society. Geography Environment and Society: Understands how physical systems affect human systems.

6 The Revolutionary War: The Price of Loyalty & Dark Days: Teacher s Guide 6 Economics: Understands that scarcity of productive resources requires choices that generate opportunity costs. The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) has developed national standards to provide guidelines for teaching social studies. To view the standards online, go to This lesson plan addresses the following thematic standards: Time, Continuity, and Change Support Materials Develop custom worksheets, educational puzzles, online quizzes, and more with the free teaching tools offered on the Discoveryschool.com Web site. Create and print support materials, or save them to a Custom Classroom account for future use. To learn more, visit

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