The Articles of Confederation, the Northwest Ordinance & Shays' Rebellion Lesson Plan

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.

When the United States was first becoming a new nation, there were several events and obstacles to overcome. In this lesson, we will look at some of these obstacles as we discuss the early steps taken toward making the United States an independent, new country.

Learning Objectives

By the conclusion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define the Articles of Confederation
  • define the Northwest Ordinance
  • define Shay's Rebellion
  • organize statements about these events in chronological order


50-60 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Identify key steps in a text's description of a process related to history/social studies (e.g., how a bill becomes law, how interest rates are raised or lowered).


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


Analyze how a text makes connections among and distinctions between individuals, ideas, or events (e.g., through comparisons, analogies, or categories).


Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.



  • Begin by introducing the lesson.
    • Read the lesson description aloud.
    • Mention the vocabulary terms in the lesson and ask students to share what they might already know about each item.
      • Articles of Confederation
      • Northwest Ordinance
      • Northwest Territory
      • Shay's Rebellion
      • Declaration of Independence
  • Next, show the video.
  • After the video has been shown, give students each a printed copy of the video transcript.
  • Revisit each of the major sections of the lesson and discuss. Be sure to answer any questions students might have about each section.
    • ''Growing Pains''
    • ''Articles of Confederation''
    • ''Northwest Ordinance''
    • ''Shay's Rebellion''
    • ''Lesson Summary''
  • Before moving on to the activity, administer the Quiz and review answers as a group to check for understanding.

Group Activity

To reinforce learning, guide students through the following activity.

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