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Activity Overview

As students read Common Sense, they should be able to identify and understand the different arguments Paine is making. Using a frayer model (or a spider map), students will identify one of Paine's major arguments, summarize it, and create a visualization to help further their understanding. This activity will help them put the later actions taken by the colonists into context.

As extended activity, students will create a spider map that represents what they found to be the four strongest arguments for independence. Students will be able to create a similar storyboard from the activity.

  1. Of the Origin and Design of Government in general, with concise Remarks on the English Constitution
  2. Of Monarchy and Hereditary Succession
  3. Thoughts on the Present State of American Affairs
  4. On the Present Ability of America, with some Miscellaneous Reflections

Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 6-12

Difficulty Level 2 (Reinforcing / Developing)

Type of Assignment Individual, Partner, or Group

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RI/9-10/2] Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
  • [ELA-Literacy/RI/11-12/5] Analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of the structure an author uses in his or her exposition or argument, including whether the structure makes points clear, convincing, and engaging.
  • [ELA-Literacy/RI/11-12/6] Determine an author's point of view or purpose in a text in which the rhetoric is particularly effective, analyzing how style and content contribute to the power, persuasiveness or beauty of the text.
  • [ELA-Literacy/RI/11-12/9] Analyze seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and nineteenth-century foundational U.S. documents of historical and literary significance (including The Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address) for their themes, purposes, and rhetorical features.

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that describes one of Paine's major arguments in Common Sense.

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. In the center title, identify the overall argument that Paine makes.
  3. In each cell, identify the components of the argument.
  4. In each description box, describe or summarize the argument.
  5. Create images using appropriate scenes, characters, and items.
  6. Save and submit your storyboard.

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