Federalist Papers Lesson Plan

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Take your students back in time to the earliest day of the Constitution. A video lesson explains key points while an in class activity allows for student analysis of the words of the Federalists. If your students are hungry for more, consider our suggestions for extra activities and corresponding lessons.

Learning Objectives:

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • explain what the Constitution of the United States is
  • summarize a selection of The Federalist papers
  • analyze the efficacy of The Federalist Papers

Length

30 minutes to 1 hour

Materials

  • Photocopies of a small selection of the 85 transcripts of The Federalist Papers (can be found here http://thomas.loc.gov/home/histdox/fedpapers.html)
  • Red pens

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.2

Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.4

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including analyzing how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.5

Analyze in detail how a complex primary source is structured, including how key sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text contribute to the whole.

Key Vocabulary

  • Constitution of the United States of America
  • The Federalist Papers

Instructions

  • Begin by asking the class to tell you what the Constitution of the United States is. Write their ideas on the board.
  • Next play the Study.com video lesson The Federalist Papers: History, Writers & Summary, pausing it at 1.25.
  • Now revisit the information that is listed on the board regarding the Constitution in light of what was described in the video lesson. Was it on target? Was anything missing? Were the students aware that some states resisted it?
  • Pass out the transcripts of The Federalist Papers, one per student.
  • Have the students begin by reading the transcript, underlining key points in red. Once each student has read their transcript, ask them to summarize what it is saying in a short paragraph.
  • Ask each student to share his/her summary with the class. Who was the author of their document? What themes can the students see among the documents? Is the language persuasive? Does it seem logical and legitimate? What do they think the purpose of these papers was? Write key points on the board.
  • Play the remainder of the video lesson now.
  • Now review the key points written on the board regarding the student summaries of The Federalist Papers. Did the student input match up with what the video lesson said about The Federalist Papers? Why or why not?

Discussion Questions

  • Were The Federalist Papers political propaganda?
  • What might have happened in the United States without The Federalist Papers?

Extensions

  • Ask students to research and report on the lives of the authors of The Federalist Papers.
  • Have students translate their individual Federalist Paper into modern language. Is the information still relatable in modern society?

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