Lesson Plan: Overview

Rules, Rules, Rules

Grade Level: 4th

An example of student work

Academic Standards

Standard 4-2: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the settlement of North America by Native Americans, Europeans, and African Americans and the interactions among these peoples.

4-2.3 Identify the English, Spanish, and French colonies in North America and summarize the motivations for the settlement of these colonies, including freedom of worship, and economic opportunity.

4-2.5 Summarize the introduction and establishment of slavery in the American colonies, including the role of the slave trade; the nature of the Middle Passage; and the types of goods—rice, indigo, sugar, tobacco, and rum, for example—that were exchanged among the West Indies, Europe, and the Americas.

4-2.6 Explain the impact of indentured servitude and slavery on life in the New World and the contributions of African slaves to the development of the American colonies, including farming techniques, cooking styles, and languages

Social Studies Literacy Elements

L. Interpret calendars, time lines, maps, charts, tables, graphs, flow charts, diagrams, photographs, paintings, cartoons, architectural drawings, documents, letters, censuses, and other artifacts.

Historical Background Notes

See Colonial America Background Notes


Lesson Plans

With Rules, Rules, Rules students analyze primary documentation of the Plymouth colony's founding governmental framework. Students also demonstrate an understanding of government as they draft class compacts. Allow one class period to complete the lesson (55 minutes).

  1. Teacher tells the Plymouth story, emphasizing the Mayflower Compact-its content, significance, and influence on American government.
  2. Students analyze the Mayflower Compact, 1620.
  3. Students create a class "Mayflower Compact," which outlines class rules.
  4. For homework, students write two paragraphs: the first paragraph recalls the reasons for the voluntary settling of the Plymouth colony; the second paragraph hypothesizes the influence of the Mayflower Compact on colonial history and the development of American government.

Teacher Reflections

This lesson went fairly well. The students seemed to really get into it after they got over feeling like it was too hard. The summary sheet really helped them make more concise points and understand the main points of the primary documents.

The thing that I would change about this lesson is that I would try to find actual letters that may have been written to King George from South Carolina colonists. I think that this would give the students a deeper understanding of what the colonists were thinking and feeling, and it would also give them an example of what to write or how to approach the topic.

I would also try to find some accounts of speeches given by members of Parliament about the colonists’ actions, even if I could not find actual speeches. Again, I feel that this would give the students an idea of where to start from if they chose that topic, and I think that it would give them a better understanding of Britain's point of view because most books and other sources of information focus on the wrong done to the colonists. Overall, the lesson went well.

Student Assessment

Assessment for Rules, Rules, Rules is performance-based. Teachers can rate class compacts and analytic paragraphs according to the following standards-based rubric. Student performance can be rated as Unacceptable, Needs Work, Good, or Excellent. Teacher comments may include rationale for marks and suggestions for improvement.

Examples of Students Work


Heather Bass
Columbia, South Carolina