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Activity Overview


Themes come alive when you use a storyboard. In this activity, students will identify key themes in Patrick Henry’s “Speech in the Virginia Convention”, and support their choices with details from the text.


Themes and Ideas to Discuss

The Nature of True Patriotism

During this time, many considered talk of breaking with England to be unpatriotic. Many considered anyone unwilling to compromise to be a traitor. Patrick Henry addresses this by saying that while he appreciates that point of view, others see the same topic in a different light. For Henry, he sees the calls to maintain ties with the homeland to be unpatriotic, because he believes it comes down to whether or not the colonies will be free, or slaves to England.


The Necessity of Courage

Many colonists were, understandably, afraid of breaking with the strength of England, and having that strength turned on them. They were afraid of war, and of change. Henry addresses this fear by examining the claims that the colonies are too weak, and then discarding these claims. He says that there are three million people, armed with the holy cause of liberty, which makes them invincible. They also are currently armed, and the full force of the British army is not yet on their shores. In addition, they will find powerful allies. If they do not find the courage now, their indecision will lead them to be ruled by fear instead.


The Importance of Sacrifice

Henry lays out the methods that have already been tried by the colonists: they have argued, entreated, supplicated, petitioned, remonstrated, prostrated themselves before the throne, and implored. Each time, they have been slighted, insulted, and spurned by the king. Henry says that if the colonists mean to be free, they cannot abandon their struggle; they must fight. Fighting involves sacrifice, but it is for a greater cause. If they don’t fight, if they don’t sacrifice their lives and their peace, then they will be purchasing the chains of slavery.


The Choice of Freedom or Slavery

Throughout the speech, Henry makes one thing perfectly clear: there is no more gray area, no more room for compromise with England. Instead, the people must “choose” freedom or slavery. By their inaction, they are “choosing” to be slaves: England will send their full army over to disarm the colonists, and freedom will slip away. Instead, by fighting and sacrificing their lives, they can “choose” freedom by giving up their fears of losing everything that is important to them, and, perhaps, gaining something even more important.



Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 9-10

Difficulty Level 3 (Developing to Mastery)

Type of Assignment Individual or Partner

Type of Activity: Themes, Symbols & Motifs

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RI/9-10/5] Analyze in detail how an author's ideas or claims are developed and refined by particular sentences, paragraphs, or larger portions of a text (e.g., a section or chapter).
  • [ELA-Literacy/RI/9-10/6] Determine an author's point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how an author uses rhetoric to advance that point of view or purpose.
  • [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 identifies recurring themes in “Speech in the Virginia Convention”. Illustrate instances of each theme and write a short description below each cell.


  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Identify the theme(s) from “Speech in the Virginia Convention” you wish to include and replace the "Theme 1" text.
  3. Create an image for examples that represent this theme.
  4. Write a description of each of the examples.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.



Rubric

(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)



Themes, Symbols, and Motifs (Grades 9-12)
Create a storyboard that identifies recurring themes, symbols, and/or motifs in the story. Illustrate instances of each and write a short description that explains the example's significance.
Proficient Emerging Beginning Needs Improvement
Identification of Theme(s), Symbol(s), and/or Motif(s)
All themes are correctly identified as important recurring topics or messages in the story. Symbols are correctly identified as objects that represent something else at a higher level in the story. Motifs are correctly identified as important recurring features or ideas in the story.
Most themes are correctly identified, but others are missing or incomplete. Most symbols are correctly identified, but some objects are missing or incomplete. Some motifs are correctly identified, but others are missing or incomplete.
Most themes are missing, incomplete, or incorrect. Most symbols are missing, incomplete, or incorrect. Most motifs are missing, incomplete, or incorrect.
No themes, symbols, or motifs are correctly identified.
Examples and Descriptions
Quotes and examples are accurate to the theme(s), symbol(s), and/or motif(s) that are being identified. Descriptions accurately explain the theme(s), symbol(s), and/or motif(s) and highlight their significance to the story.
Most quotes and examples are accurate to the theme(s), symbol(s), and/or motifs that are being identified. Descriptions mostly accurately explain the theme(s), symbol(s), and/or motif(s), and highlight their significance to the story.
Most quotes and examples are minimal, incorrect, or unrelated to the theme(s), symbol(s), and/or motif(s) that are being identified. Descriptions contain inaccuracies in their explanations, or do not highlight their significance to the story.
Examples and descriptions are missing or too minimal to score.
Depiction
Depictions chosen for theme(s), symbol(s), and/or motif(s) are accurate to the story and reflect time, effort, thought, and care with regard to placement and creation of the scenes.
Depictions chosen for theme(s), symbol(s), and/or motif(s) are mostly accurate to the story. They reflect time and effort put into placement and creation of the scenes.
Depictions chosen for theme(s), symbol(s), and/or motif(s) are inaccurate to the story. The depictions may be rushed or show minimal effort, time, and care put into placement and creation of the scenes.
Most depictions are missing too many elements or are too minimal to score. Little time or effort has been put into placement and creation of the scenes.
English Conventions
There are no errors in spelling, grammar, or mechanics throughout the storyboard. All writing portions reflect careful proofreading and accuracy to the story.
There are a few errors in spelling, grammar, and mechanics throughout the storyboard. All writing portions show accuracy to the story and some proofreading.
There are several errors in spelling, grammar, and mechanics throughout the storyboard. Most writing portions do not reflect proofreading or accuracy to the story.
Errors in spelling, grammar, and mechanics in writing portions of the storyboard seriously interfere with communication.




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