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Activity Overview


It's often helpful to paraphrase quotes from old documents and place them into a more modern context to help students understand what they say. This activity will allow students to select their favorite or the most significant Common Sense quotes and visualize the meaning using the T-Chart layout. Depending on the guidance of the teacher, students can create a translation of the quote’s rationale, or use Textables to include word or thought bubbles that convey the central idea or theme of each quote. As displayed in the example storyboard, students will create a T-Chart that has the “Direct Quotes” and the “Meaning of Quote” columns side by side. For students that may find the activity challenging, encourage them to create modern day examples of the central message, e.g. the Tooth Fairy in the final storyboard.



Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests, and when they succeed to the government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions.



Meaning of Quote

Kings, or any leaders that are guaranteed the right to rule, quickly become detached from their subjects and the society they govern.




Small islands, not capable of protecting themselves, are the proper objects for kingdoms to take under their care; but there is something absurd, in supposing a continent to be perpetually governed by an island.



Meaning of Quote

It doesn't make sense to have the island of Britain ruling over the continent of America from thousands of miles away. In order to run a country decisions have to be made quickly and a continent cannot wait on a foreign king.


A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.



Meaning of Quote

Just because people have done things a certain way doesn't mean it is the correct way to do it. People become comfortable with the tradition of an activity rather than the purpose of it.



Extended Activity

In order to understand perspective, students should consider the antithesis to each quote or argument selected in the activity. Students will have to create a storyboard that attempts to discredit Paine's argument through the perspective of either the King of England or a loyalist in the colonies.

Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 6-12

Difficulty Level 2 (Reinforcing / Developing)

Type of Assignment Individual or Partner

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RI/9-10/1] Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
  • [ELA-Literacy/RI/9-10/9] Analyze seminal U.S. documents of historical and literary significance (e.g., Washington's Farewell Address, the Gettysburg Address, Roosevelt's Four Freedoms speech, King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail"), including how they address related themes and concepts.


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 analyzes quotes from the Common Sense pamphlet.

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. In one column, identify the direct quote from the pamphlet.
  3. In the other column, describe the meaning of the quote.
  4. Create an illustration for each cell using appropriate scenes, characters, and items.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.


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