Declaration of Independence Lesson Plan for Middle School

Instructor: Kristen Goode

Kristen has been an educator for 25+ years - as a classroom teacher, a school administrator, and a university instructor. She holds a doctorate in Education Leadership.

The Declaration of Independence was a document by which American colonists declared their independence from Great Britain. This lesson plan helps students explore this important document.

Learning Objectives

By the conclusion of this lesson, students will:

  • Discuss the creation of the Declaration of Independence
  • Rewrite the Declaration of Independence using modern wording


This lesson will take 1-2 class periods

Curriculum Standards


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.


Describe how a text presents information (e.g., sequentially, comparatively, causally).


Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.


  • Printed copies of the Declaration of Independence (one for each student)
  • Printed copies of the video lesson transcript (one for each student)
  • Access to the video lesson, The Declaration of Independence: Text, Signers and Legacy
  • Access to the quiz
  • Writing materials for group work
  • Computer access for students


  • Begin by asking students to share what they might already know about the Declaration of Independence.
  • Show the video lesson, The Declaration of Independence: Text, Signers and Legacy, stopping occasionally for discussion.
    • Stop at the 1:30 mark and discuss:
      • How does the introductory letter help to explain the purpose of the Declaration of Independence?
      • What were the major purposes of the Declaration of Independence?
      • From whom were the colonists declaring their independence?
    • Stop at the 2:32 point and discuss:
      • Why was a formal document needed to declare independence?
      • What events led up to the decision to draft this document?
    • Stop at the 4:33 point and discuss:
      • What were the three main parts of the Declaration of Independence and what did each explain?
    • At the end of the video, discuss the Lesson Summary.
  • Once the video has been shown, give each student a printed copy of the video transcript (for reference and for notes).
    • Discuss the words and phrases in bold in the lesson transcript.
    • Allow for class discussion about any parts of the lesson students wish to discuss.
    • Answer questions as they arise.

Group Activity

To reinforce learning, use the following activity.

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