Examining Our History: American Revolution

Students examine the ideas and values behind the American Revolution, and what drove the colonists to seek independence, through nonfiction texts including Liberty! How the Revolutionary War Began.



Unit 4

4th Grade

Unit Summary

In this unit, students explore factors that influence change by examining the events that led up to the American Revolution. Over the course of the unit, students will build a deeper understanding of the significant ideas and values at the heart of the American Revolution, what drove the colonists to seek independence, and how the conflict between England and the colonists ultimately influenced change in our country. Students will see the American Revolution from multiple perspectives, starting with analyzing the difference in perspectives between the British and the colonists and how each side’s actions often instigated the other. Students will also explore how class structure influenced colonists' perspectives. Later in the unit, students will think about the perspectives of Black people, women, and Native Americans who were forced to choose a side and why they may have had a different point of view of the events of the revolution. 

An important part of this unit is pushing students to focus on seeing history from multiple different perspectives. The core text Liberty! How the Revolutionary War Began offers one perspective on events, however, the perspective is limited to that held by white elite colonists. Therefore, students also read excerpts from A Young People's History of the United States to build a deeper understanding of all sides of the Revolution.  By reading multiple accounts, students will be challenged to notice how an author’s point of view or perspective on events shapes the information they give. Additionally, in order to fully understand the historical events in the text, students will notice the author’s use of cause and effect, sequence, and chronology. Students will also work on summarizing a text, noticing which ideas from the text are important. 

When discussing the text, students continue to work on elaborating and supporting their own ideas, using examples and evidence to justify their own thinking. Doing so sets students up for success with discourse in later units when students are pushed to engage with the thinking of others. Students continue to build their fluency by writing daily in response to the text and crafting sentences that show a nuanced understanding of the content. In the second half of the unit, students write both informational and opinion paragraphs and essays, focusing on stating a topic, providing evidence, and elaborating on that evidence to support a point or teach about a topic.

Please Note: In August 2023, we enhanced lesson plans for this unit, including answers to key questions and related student supports. We will also be removing three texts from the unit: If You Lived at the Time of the American Revolution by Kay Moore; Paul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, illustrated by Ted Rand; Let It Begin Here! Lexington and Concord by Dennis Brindell Fradin.

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Texts and Materials

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Core Materials

Supporting Materials


These assessments accompany this unit to help gauge student understanding of key unit content and skills.

Unit Prep

Intellectual Prep

Unit Launch

Before you teach this unit, unpack the texts, themes, and core standards through our guided intellectual preparation process. Each Unit Launch includes a series of short videos, targeted readings, and opportunities for action planning to ensure you're prepared to support every student.

Essential Questions

  • What key events led to the outbreak of the American Revolution? 
  • How did opinions differ on the idea of independence? 
  • Were the colonies really a land of equality and liberty? 
  • Why is it important to look at history from multiple perspectives?  

Reading Focus Areas

  • To explain key events in a historical text, readers think about what happened and why. To do so, readers notice the author’s use of cause and effect, sequence, and chronology.

  • Summarizing a text involves deciding which ideas from the text are most important and synthesizing them to show the main points or ideas in the text.

  • An author’s point of view or perspective on events shapes the information they give.

Writing Focus Areas

Opinion Writing

  • Write strong topic sentences that clearly state the opinion.

  • Provide reasons and evidence to support a particular opinion.

  • Elaborate on the reasons to show understanding of the text and topic.

Informational Writing

  • Introduce a topic clearly and group related information into paragraph sections.

  • Develop the topic with facts, definitions, concrete details, or other information.

  • Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary.

Speaking and Listening Focus Areas

  • Elaborate to support ideas. Provide evidence or examples to justify and defend a point clearly.

  • Use specific vocabulary. Use vocabulary that is specific to the subject and task to clarify and share thoughts.



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To see all the vocabulary for Unit 4, view our 4th Grade Vocabulary Glossary.

Content Knowledge and Connections

Supporting All Students

In order to ensure that all students are able to access the texts and tasks in this unit, it is incredibly important to intellectually prepare to teach the unit prior to launching the unit. Use the intellectual preparation protocol and the Unit Launch to determine which support students will need. To learn more, visit the Supporting all Students teacher tool.

Lesson Map

Common Core Standards

Core Standards


Supporting Standards

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Unit 3

Interpreting Perspectives: Greek Myths


Unit 5

Believing in Yourself: The Wild Book

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