Teaching Washington’s Farewell Address to Address the Informational Text Standard
Okay, I know. Using really old texts by white guys seems like a recipe for poor classroom engagement. But it doesn’t have to be!
One of the standards in the informational text involves looking at U.S. seminal documents.
So you get a choice in which texts you want to use. I made lessons for all of these texts, but here is why you should use Washington’s Farewell Address.
Politics are super partisan nowadays. Reviewing what Washington’s vision for the United States was after he left office can give your students some new perspective on the current political climate.
It shows how are voices can transcend us.
This is probably one of the most important ones. Washington has a legacy that is both awe inspiring in its depictions in history books, and concerning when you realize he was a slave owner. Students can broach these topics with teacher guidance and see just what makes our voices transcend time.
It shows complex sentences.
Oh yeah. Paragraphs made of a single sentence? Yup, this text has ’em. This shows students how punctuation and pausing can be used to create complex sentences. Alternatively, students can break down a complex sentences into smaller chunks.
Here is what I include in my short unit on Washington’s Farewell Address:
- Anticipation Guide: I activate students’ prior knowledge with a quick activity asking them to agree and disagree with statements.
- Three Main Ideas Graphic Organizer (CER practice): In this activity, I ask students to use the text as a mentor text for the Claim-Evidence-Reasoning Framework. Then, students determine what the three main takeaways are from Washington’s Farewell Address, find evidence, and explain Washington’s reasoning.
- SOAPSTone Graphic Organizer: I challenge to slow down their reading and determine what the subject, occasion, audience, purpose, speaker, and tone are for this piece.
- Rewriting for Clarity: Like I mentioned above, Washington’s Farewell Address can be difficult to digest with its complex sentences. In this activity, students get an opportunity to rewrite to sections and simplify them, making sure each sentence has a subject and a predicate.
- A Letter to Washington: In this fun activity, I have students reply to Washington, letting him know what has happened since he penned the letter. This activity allows students to determine who their audience is and use language appropriate to the subject.
- Blackout Poem: I provide students with an excerpt and guidelines to create their own blackout poem.
- Connection to the Present Comparison Graphic Organizer: I have students choose a contemporary article to compare to Washington’s Farewell Address and compare both, drawing a conclusion.
- Essay Rubric: Students see the exact standards that they will be graded on in this three point rubric with space for teacher feedback
- Essay Planning Outline: I have students fill out an outline with main parts of the essay. This is great for students who may struggle with the planning process or prefer to have a template.
- Essay Planning Sheet: I give students a blank planning sheet to map out the essay or rough drafting.
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