Free Patrick Henry Opinion Writing Lesson
When I was teaching, I felt like I had no time to teach social studies. Between writing workshop, reading groups, math groups, and my whole group lessons, I barely had time to take attendance!
All of the focus was on Common Core ELA and Math and the advice was to “integrate social studies and science”.
I understand the struggle. So, I created an opinion/argument writing lesson that is inspired by Patrick Henry’s famous quote “Give me liberty, or give me death!”
1. Write Patrick Henry’s favorite quote on the board: “Give me liberty, or give me death!”
2. Ask students to discuss what this quote means. If they don’t know what liberty means, have one student look it up and share with the class.
3. Give some historical background:
On March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry gave a speech at the Second Virginia Convention. He argued that Virginia should raise a militia so the colony could defend itself against the British. His opponents favored peace and patience until they received more information from the Crown. Henry concluded his speech with, “Give me liberty, or give me death!” Henry’s resolution passed and Virginia began preparing its militia for combat.
4. Optional: watch a video of Patrick Henry’s speech on YouTube. There are several great ones like this one (it’s a 7 minute clip but the good stuff starts at 5:12).
I also like the audio of an actor reading part of the speech (2.5 minutes long) which you can find on The Colonial Williamsburg website.
If you want to delve more into analyzing the speech (and extend the lesson to two or three days), here are my favorite resources about Patrick Henry’s speech:
5. Introduce the writing prompt: Students will write an opinion/argument piece in the style of “Give me _____, or give me _____”. ‘
Give me The Jonas Brothers, or give me silence!
Give me warm chocolate chip cookies, or give me hunger!
Give me YouTube, or give me boredom!
6. Read the example response about Chocolate Chip Cookies (Yes, I wrote this and I stand by it!)
7. Pass out planning sheets. Ask students to brainstorm ideas.
8. Once students pick a topic, give them time to work on their rough drafts. If you teach 5th grade and need a free graphic organizer for opinion writing, you can grab it here.
9. When they are ready, students can use the final draft pages (I’ve included two versions).
You can download the complete lesson, sample response, and student worksheets below!
Want a FREE Timeline Lesson for 8 Events Leading to the Declaration of Independence?
In this lesson, students learn about 8 key events leading to the Declaration of Independence by reading task cards around the room and answering prompts on a timeline.
Here are the events on the timeline:
- The Stamp Act
- The Boston Massacre
- The Boston Tea Party
- The Intolerable Acts
- The First Continental Congress
- Lexington and Concord
- The Second Continental Congress
- The Declaration of Independence
After that, students complete a reflection where they answer the following questions:
- If you lived in the 1700s, would you have declared independence from Great Britain?
- Do you think that the colonists ever overreacted to one of the British laws or actions?
Enter your email below to grab your free Declaration of Independence timeline lesson!
For a year-long solution to integrating ELA and social studies, check out my US Quote of the Week. This resource integrates reading strategies with social studies content. It’s a quick and engaging way to discuss history every single day. Try a week for free.
You may also be interested in my 3 week unit about the Declaration of Independence. It has been used by thousands of teachers and is one of my most popular resources. Your students will love it because they get to adopt a colonial identity, experience taxation without representation, and make decisions in student congresses.
If you need lessons about the events of the war, check out my popular 3 week Revolutionary War Unit. One of my favorite parts of the unit is the week-long simulation where students join the Continental Army and adopt a new identity as a soldier, spy, or officer.