English Language Arts
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
High School
  • Discussion
  • Grade 11 ELA
  • Historical Documents
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial

    The Founders' American Dream

    The Founders' American Dream


    In this lesson, students will go back to the documents they've read, looking through them closely to figure out what the Founders might have said was the “American Dream.”


    • Read the lesson and student content.
    • Anticipate student difficulties and identify the differentiation options you will choose for working with your students.
    • Decide how want to organize groups and how you want transitions to flow.

    American Dream Quick Write

    Help students find trends and areas of disagreement in their responses.

    Remind students that they are reflecting on the Founders' American Dream, not their own.

    • SWD: A Quick Write can be a good opportunity to assess the stamina and ability of some students with disabilities. For those who need additional support, provide them with sentence starters or prompts.


    Think back over the reading, thinking, and writing you have done to this point. What do you think the Founders would have considered the American Dream?

    Complete the following sentence.

    • According to the Founders, the American Dream is . . .

    Write and then share your responses with the class. What do you notice about your classmates’ responses? Is there consensus, or do people disagree?

    Founders' American Dream

    You can keep the same groups from the previous lesson, or you can change groups.

    • ELL: The words and phrases from these readings can be difficult for some ELLs. One method for addressing this is encouraging groups to work together to create a glossary of the terms that they identify as most important. This attention to clear definitions can benefit all group members.

    Work Time

    Today, you will return to the Preamble and either the Bill of Rights or the Declaration of Independence.

    • With your group, read closely, selecting words and phrases that you think express the writers’ vision of the American Dream.


    Dialectical Journal

    The groups are working together to choose quotations, but students should compose their Dialectical Journal entries independently.

    Work Time

    Independently, create and compose a Close Reading Dialectical Journal entry explaining why you chose the particular quotations you did. What do they reveal about the Founders’ vision?

    Journal Entry 5

    If time allows, hear several responses.

    • ELL: This can be a good opportunity to check for understanding by inviting willing ELLs to share their responses. It can also be helpful to allow them to check in with a partner or small group prior to sharing with the whole class.


    Complete Journal Entry 5 by answering the following questions.

    • What was the Founders’ vision for the American Dream?
    • Based on your observations, has this vision endured?
    • What, if anything, would you change about this vision?


    Independent Reading and Journal Entry

    Remind students that soon they will be meeting with their Independent Reading groups; they should be sure to catch up in their reading if they are behind!


    For homework, continue reading your Independent Reading selection and completing your Independent Reading Dialectical Journal entries.