Dolley Madison Save it for later
We have this file available for download

Lesson Plan 1: Were There Two Wars for American Independence?

 Law, politics and government, and the War of 1812

One of the major events in Dolley Madison?s life was the War of 1812. Among other things, she managed to save the major American historic documents, as well as the famous portrait of George Washington, all of which were in the White House, before the British burned Washington, D.C.

Skill: High School/College

Time Required: One to two class periods

Objective: To engage students in a whole class as well as a team activity in which they will decide whether or not the War of 1812 was America?s ?second war of independence.?

Materials Required: Internet access

Procedures: This lesson is an already designed WebQuest, with all instructions and resources contained within it. It is permissible for any teacher to use it. Go to: Turning Point in History: The War of 1812.

Extending the Lesson: If teachers desire, they can build a lesson around the additional websites listed below rather than the WebQuest, depending upon the unique nature of each class.

Additional websites

Standards Compliance

NCSS Strand 2 – Time, Continuity and Change
NCSS Strand 9 – Global Connections
NCTE Standard 8 – Students use a variety of technology and information resources to gather, synthesize and communicate knowledge
ISTE Standard 5 – Technology research tools

Credits: This lesson was designed by Jo Anne M. Gill, Raymond Cree Middle School, Palm Springs United School District. AMERICAN EXPERIENCE reprints this lesson with permission from the National First Ladies’ Library and Historic site.

Lesson Plan 2: Time to Retire? 

 21st Century Life After Work

In the early days of our country, most people didn’t live as long as they do now. Pensions, or other safeguards to ensure that old age wouldn’t be plagued by poverty, didn’t exist. This was true of Presidents and First Ladies, as well. There were no retirement plans for them, either. Instead, they were on their own to save enough money to live on after they left the White House. In many cases, First Ladies like Dolley Madison, spent their later years close to real poverty after their husbands died.

Skill: High School/College
Time Required: Two to three class periods

Objective: Beginning with a consideration of the changing length of the lifespan over the past 150 years, students will look at factors that need to be considered in thinking about whether or not we need to reconsider the age at which we can retire in the 21st century, or whether, in fact, “retirement” has become an obsolete idea.

Materials Required: Access to the Internet, word processor (or paper and writing utensil), printer (to print resources and final paper).

Procedures:

1. Introduce the lesson by asking the students whether they know about the debate over Social Security that is currently going on. Then ask the students what they would do if they worked for 30 or 35 years and then found that they would receive no pension for their retirement. What would they do about their situation?

2. Introduce the assignment to students by dividing them into smaller groups, each one of which will study a different aspect of the problem:

  • American longevity
  • Advances in medicine
  • Definitions of different kinds of pensions
  • Issues in the aging of America
  • Issues in the debate about pensions

3. Student groups should research these topics and prepare a report for the rest of the class.

4. As a whole, the class should discuss the findings of the small groups, and then decide, first, whether or not they should reconsider the age at which they might retire, and/or whether so-called “retirement” is an obsolete idea.

Extending the Lesson: To extend the lesson, students might consider alternative plans for saving money for retirement, calculating how much they would have to save if they began saving at age 21, 30, 40, 50, etc. There are retirement calculators on some of the web sites listed below.

Websites:

Standards Compliance:

NCSS Strand 1 — Culture
NCSS Strand 2 — Time, Continuity and Change
NCSS Strand 3 — People, Places and Environments
NCSS Strand 5 — Individuals, Groups and Institutions
NCSS Strand 6 — Power, Authority and Governance
NCTE Standard 5 — Students use a wide range of strategies and elements to write to communicate with different audiences and for purposes.
NCTE Standard 6 — Students apply knowledge of language structure, convention and media techniques to create, critique and discuss texts.
NCTE Standard 8 — Students use a variety of technology and information resources to gather, synthesize and communicate knowledge.
ISTE Standard 3 — Technology productivity tools
ISTE Standard 5 — Technology research tools

Credits: This lesson was developed by Marian Maxfield, Kent State University. AMERICAN EXPERIENCE reprints this lesson with permission from the National First Ladies’ Library and Historic Site.

Lesson Plan 3: The Mill Girls of Lowell, Massachusetts

Toward the latter part of Dolley Madison’s life, the cotton mills in Massachusetts became world-renowned as “humane” working places for girls and young women. Whether or not they were humane, they created a considerable amount of debate. The textile industry was one of the first to hire large numbers of female workers. Their lives and working conditions, so unlike Dolley Madison’s, but that must have been known to her, were perhaps, a matter of concern.

Skill: High School/College
Time Required: Two to three class periods

Objectives: The purpose of this lesson is for students to put themselves in the position of young women (early teens) who have been sent to work in the mills in Massachusetts to earn money to help the family farm. Although this lesson may be seen as a “girls’” lesson, the circumstances mirror a pattern frequently seen among immigrants to American, even into the present day. It will be instructive for young men in the class to also assume the persona of a young woman working in the Lowell Mills?class discussion can always be enhanced by male perceptions of female experience!

Materials Required: Access to the Internet, access to print materials.

Procedures:

You are a teenaged girl who has been sent to the factory to earn money to help support your farming family. Your parents are very proud of you and miss you deeply. You are excited about going to work at the mills because not only will you earn your own money, but you will be helping your parents. You have also been promised a good education of reading and writing, and a firm foundation in religion and lady-like manners.

In the 1800s these are all good qualities for attracting a good husband. The Lowell Sun, a local newspaper, wants you to write about life as a “Mill Girl”. They want to know if working in the mills is everything you thought it would be. As you research the working conditions of the factories and the living conditions of the boardinghouses try to imagine yourself living in Lowell, Massachusetts during the 1830s. As you learn about your new environment pay careful attention about what it is like to live in Lowell because you will be writing a group editorial to the Lowell Sun answering some questions about the working and living conditions.

Using the websites listed below, research one of the following aspects of life as a “Mill Girl”:

  • Working conditions
  • Living conditions
  • Recreation
  • General life

When your research is complete, write a feature story for the Lowell Sun describing your life based on your research. Share your research with the rest of the class.

Extending the Lesson: This lesson may be extended by asking students to compare life and working conditions of the Lowell girls with those of major employers of teens today.

Websites:

Standards Compliance:

NCSS Strand 2 — Time, Continuity and Change
NCSS Strand 7 — Production, Distribution and Consumption
NCSS Strand 8 — Science, Technology and Society
NCTE Standard 1 — Students read fiction, nonfiction, classic and contemporary works to acquire information for various purposes.
NCTE Standard 3 — Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate and appreciate texts.
NCTE Standard 5 — Students use a wide range of strategies and elements to write to communicate with different audiences and for purposes.
NCTE Standard 7 — Students conduct research by generating ideas, questions and problems. They gather, evaluate and synthesize data.
NCTE Standard 12 — Students use spoken, written and visual language to accomplish their own purposes.
ISTE Standard 5 — Technology research tools

Credits: This lesson was adapted from a WebQuest developed at IndioMiddle School, Indio, California, by Bette Brooks, Kent State University. AMERICAN EXPERIENCE reprints this lesson with permission from the National First Ladies’ Library and Historic Site.

Lesson Plan 4: A Fascination With Mystery and Horror

Edgar Allen Poe and Mary Shelley

During Dolley Madison’s lifetime, two early authors of American horror stories/poems produced their most well known works. These two authors are Edgar Allen Poe (The Raven) and Mary Shelley (Frankenstein).

Skill: High School/College

Time Required: Four to five class periods

Objectives: Students will develop literary interpretive skills by reading works by Poe and Shelley. Students will become familiar with the characteristics of a horror or mystery literary work.

Materials Required: Edgar Allen Poe and Mary Shelley texts, access to the Internet, word processor (or paper and writing utensil), research tools (books, videos, photos, and magazines), printer (with color if using art program).

Procedures:

1. Start a class discussion by asking students if they have ever viewed a horror or mystery film or read a horror or mystery book. Ask students what they think the characteristics of a horror or mystery story might be.

2. If possible, locate textbooks for your students that include works by Poe and Shelley. If physical textbooks are not available, locate them online. Possible sites are:

http://www.literature.org/authors/shelley-mary/frankenstein/
http://www.eapoe.org/works/index.htm

3. Instruct students to read one or more passages that you select. Encourage them to make notes of observations and questions about unclear details of the text.

4. Place students in small groups to discuss their findings, questions, and details.

5. Assign individual students a writing assignment where they explain their understanding/interpretation of the stories or poems. Students should discuss different parts of the text in relation to the characteristics of a horror or mystery.

6. On the due date, ask students to discuss their observations/interpretations. Write the observations, interpretations, and characteristics on the board to allow for a class discussion.

Extending the Lesson: Use an appropriate video rendition of your selection(s) to show to the class. Ask your students to write a comparison of how the video’s interpretation was different from their own. Ask the students if there are similar horror and mystery characteristics in movies and text.

Sources & Resources:

Websites:

Standards Compliance:

NCSS Strand 1 — Culture
NCSS Strand 4 — Individual development and identity
NCTE Standard 1 — Students read fiction, nonfiction, classic and contemporary works to acquire information for various purposes.
NCTE Standard 3 — Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate and appreciate texts.
NCTE Standard 6 — Students apply knowledge of language, structure, convention and media techniques to create, critique and discuss texts.
ISTE Standard 3 — Technology productivity tools
ISTE Standard 4 — Technology communications tools
ISTE Standard 5 — Technology research tools

Credits: This lesson was developed by Marian Maxfield, Kent State University. AMERICAN EXPERIENCE reprints this lesson with permission from the National First Ladies’ Library and Historic Site.

Lesson Plan 5: The Debate on Slavery

The arguments and issues on both sides of the debate

The foundation for the Civil War was laid in the Declaration of Independence when southern colonies refused to allow Jefferson’s language on the elimination of slavery in to the Declaration. In order to get the Declaration passed, northern colonies accepted its elimination. For the rest of Dolley Madison’s life, the debate over slavery continued, until finally erupting in the Civil War twelve years after her death.

Skill: High School/College
Time Required: Four to five class periods

Objectives: The purpose of this lesson is to introduce students into the heart of the slavery debate by exposing students to the arguments and issues on each side. In this lesson, students will research the debate over slavery; some students should take the pro-slavery side and others the anti-slavery side.

Materials Required:
Access to the Internet, research materials.

Procedures:

1. Divide the class into two groups. One group is the pro-slavery and the other group is anti-slavery.

2. Each student should take a role of a character such as a plantation owner, a legislator, a free Black, a slave, a northern abolitionist, etc.

3. Students should spend two or three days researching their role and the issues on their specific side of slavery to get a feel for the arguments, to understand the milestones in the debate (e.g., the Missouri Compromise).

4. The classroom should be configured to allow students to debate on the issue of slavery, presenting their positions from the point of view of their character.

Extending the Lesson:
Students provide maps and images during the debate to enhance the argument.
Students determine the “winner” of the debate and write about how history would have been different or the same.

Sources & Resources:

Websites:

Standards Compliance

NCSS Strand 1 — Culture
NCSS Strand 3 — People, Places and Environments
NCSS Strand 5 — Individuals, Groups and Institutions
NCSS Strand 10 — Civic ideals and practices
NCTE Standard 7 — Students conduct research by generating ideas, questions and problems. they gather, evaluate and synthesize data.
NCTE Standard 8 — Students use a variety of technology and information resources to gather, synthesize and communicate knowledge.
NCTE Standard 12 — Students use spoken, written and visual language to accomplish their own purposes.
ISTE Standard 3 — Technology productivity tools
ISTE Standard 5 — Technology research tools

Credits: This lesson was developed by Dr. Averil McClelland and adapted by Marian Maxfield, Kent State University. AMERICAN EXPERIENCE reprints this lesson with permission from the National First Ladies’ Library and Historic Site.

Lesson Plan 6: Designing the Common School: The First Educational Reform

The transition from a family-provided (private) to a public education system

Few students or teachers realize the challenges teachers had to overcome as schools became more commonplace in early American society. During Dolley Madison’s life, the transition from family-provided, or private education, to the creation of a public education system was underway.

Skill: Middle School
Time Required: Three to four class periods

Objectives: Students will perform preliminary research to learn about education before public (common) education was in place.

Materials Required: Access to the Internet, a word processor (or paper and writing utensil), video on American schools (optional), research tools: books, magazines, and articles.

Procedures:

1. Introduce the concept of a common school by locating and playing a video on this topic, using the library, or using the internet. If available, the website accompanying the PBS documentary, Only a Teacher is helpful for use as a timeline.

2. Instruct students — either in groups or individually — to research and write a report outlining ways in which individuals and communities made the transition between the time when there were no public schools and the development of common schools.

3. Instruct students to locate a picture of an old school house on the internet as part of the report.

4. If students find writing about this topic a challenge, you may want to allow them to experience a common school firsthand. As a teacher, research the operation of a common school classroom and simulate a class with your students. Or, alternatively, search for web sites that show pictures of the early schools, or, if there is a “living” museum near you, take the students to visit a real or a replica common school.

5. When the students have researched and written their reports, they may share them with the class in any of a variety of modes: papers, PowerPoints, posters, etc.

Extending the Lesson: This lesson may be extended by having students make a photo album (scrap book) of all the pictures of schools they have located. Students could write a story written from a first-person perspective, as a student would see a common school when they began.

Sources & Resources:

Websites:
Before the Common School Era

Designing the Common School

Standards Compliance:
NCSS Strand 1 — Culture
NCSS Strand 2 — Time, Continuity and Change
NCSS Strand 3 — People, Places and Environments
NCSS Strand 5 — Individuals, Groups and Institutions
NCSS Strand 10 — Civic ideals and practices
NCTE Standard 1 — Students read fiction, nonfiction, classic and contemporary works to acquire information for various purposes.
NCTE Standard 4 — Students adjust the use of spoken, written and visual language to communicate with different audiences and purposes.
NCTE Standard 7 — Students conduct research by generating ideas, questions and problems. they gather, evaluate and synthesize data.
NCTE Standard 8 — Students use a variety of technology and information resources to gather, synthesize and communicate knowledge.
ISTE Standard 3 — Technology productivity tools
ISTE Standard 5 — Technology research tools

Credits: This lesson was developed by Marian Maxfield, Kent State University. AMERICAN EXPERIENCE reprints this lesson with permission from the National First Ladies’ Library and Historic Site.

Lesson Plan 7: The Hostess with the Mostest

Dolley Madison was one of the most hospitable First Ladies

Dolley Madison has been written down in history as one of the most hospitable first ladies. She entertained like no other — her style of dress, methods of entertaining, dinner menu, etc. It is suggested that she influenced many government leaders with severely differing viewpoints to come together for the good of the country.

Skill: Middle School
Time Required: One week

Objectives: Students will learn about Dolley Madison’s peculiar entertaining methods and design their own 'dinner party’ for potential individuals from various countries, etc. They will learn about the cultures of other countries and methods that could be implemented to dissipate conflict.

Materials Required: Research tools, access to the Internet, printer (optional).

Procedures:

1. Have a discussion about a fancy dinner party. Look at the website about how State dinners work (see below). Ask students such questions such as:

What would you like to eat?
Who would you invite? Why?
What type of decorations and eating utensils would you use?

2. Invite your students to research the kinds of foods and dinner etiquette of the early 19th century.

3. As a class, decide on one to three other countries whose citizens might be present at a State dinner party.

4. In small groups, have students develop a full dinner party, complete with entertainment and dinner menu using the computer. Keep in mind that the students should try to make the guests from the other cultures comfortable.

5. For group assessment, each group menu will be printed and presented on class bulletin board.

6. For individual assessment, have each student write a response paper written from the perspective where the student is present at the dinner party.* *ESL students can include the words used for item(s) on the menu in their native languages.

Extending the Lesson: As a class, design your own dinner party like one in the early 19th century and produce it for the class to enjoy. Each student could bring a dish that is from a different culture that would have been served during the 19th century. Students could also design the classroom similar to the dining room in the White House.

Sources & Resources:

Websites:

Standards Compliance:
NCSS Strand 1 — Culture
NCSS Strand 2 — Time, Continuity and Change
NCSS Strand 3 — People, Places and Environments
NCSS Strand 5 — Individuals, Groups and Institutions
NCTE Standard 6 — Students apply knowledge of language structure, convention and media techniques to create, critique and discuss texts.
NCTE Standard 8 — Students use a variety of technology and information resources to gather, synthesize and communicate knowledge.
NCTE Standard 10 — Students whose first language is not English make use of their first language to develop competency in English.
NCTE Standard 12 — Students use spoken, written and visual language to accomplish their own purposes.
ISTE Standard 3 — Technology productivity tools
ISTE Standard 5 — Technology research tools

Credits: This lesson was developed by Marian Maxfield, Kent State University. AMERICAN EXPERIENCE reprints this lesson with permission from the National First Ladies’ Library and Historic Site.

Lesson Plan 8: Heading to the City! From Rural to Urban in the 19th Century

The shift from an agricultural to a manufacturing-based society

Dolley Madison (and all the First Ladies of the 19th Century, for that matter!) were part of a major movement in the United States from a rural society based on agriculture to an urban society based on manufacturing.

Skill: Middle School
Time Required: Three to four class periods

Objectives: This lesson gives students the opportunity to create a database of the growth of cities in the United States in the early to mid 19th Century. A web link is provided that contains the data from the U.S. Census Bureau, and documents the emergence of the large city as a common feature of American life.

Materials Required: Research materials, access to the Internet, charts, record book, PowerPoint, or Access (optional).

Procedures:

1. Place students into groups of no more than 4 students.

2. Each group should have a decade (a 10 year span) between the years of 1800 and 1900.

3. Each group member is responsible for researching the census for the top 10 to 15 largest urban areas of the particular assigned time period.

4. The group is to research and find one to two interesting aspects about each of the top 10 to 15 cities.

5. Students will create a database and/or presentation of the information researched. Students may create the database in any of several ways: as a series of charts, as a record book, as a set of maps containing the cities and their populations, or, perhaps, as a PowerPoint Presentation.

Extending the Lesson: – Students can also research cities in more detail and explain how people lived in the cities. – Students can explain how the growth in the Washington DC affected Dolley Madison personally. – Have the students write an essay about which city they would choose to live in and why.

Sources & Resources:

Websites:

Standards Compliance:
NCSS Strand 1 — Culture
NCSS Strand 2 — Time, Continuity and Change
NCSS Strand 3 — People, Places and Environments
NCTE Standard 1 — Students read fiction, nonfiction, classic and contemporary works to acquire information for various purposes.
NCTE Standard 3 — Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate and appreciate texts.
NCTE Standard 6 — Students apply knowledge of language structure, convention and media techniques to create, critique and discuss texts.
NCTE Standard 8 — Students use a variety of technology and information resources to gather, synthesize and communicate knowledge.
ISTE Standard 3 — Technology productivity tools
ISTE Standard 4 — Technology communications tools
ISTE Standard 5 — Technology research tools

Credits:
This lesson was developed by Dr. Averil McClelland and adapted by Marian Maxfield, Kent State University. AMERICAN EXPERIENCE reprints this lesson with permission from the National First Ladies’ Library and Historic Site.

Lesson Plan 9: A Free Press for a Free People: Newspapers in America

Much of Dolley Madison’s life was chronicled in newspapers

Dolley Madison was one of the most popular First Ladies of the 19th century; she was noted for her ability to welcome people from various backgrounds and with various beliefs to the White House, and to participate elegantly and energetically in the Washington social scene. Much of this “public” life — as well as the political life of her husband — were chronicled in newspapers, which exerted growing influence on the popular culture of the time.

Skill: Middle School
Time Required: Three to four class periods

Objectives: In this lesson, students in teams compile a history of the contribution of newspapers and periodicals to the popular culture of the 19th century. Each student should think of himself or herself as a detective, uncovering as much information about the significance of newspapers and periodicals in creating the popular culture of this time period.

Materials Required: Access to the Internet, research materials, word Processor (or writing utensils and paper), computer presentation program (PowerPoint).

Procedures:

1. Place students into groups.

2. Explain to students that they are historical detectives who are responsible for documenting the popular culture of the 19th century as it was portrayed in newspapers and magazines.

3. Tell students that, as they do their research, they should attend to the questions listed below, as well as any other questions that occur to them as they work.

4. The following questions should be a part of the history:
What was America’s first newspaper?
What was the role of newspapers in the early United States?
What did newspapers look like?
How did newspapers change over time?
How did newspapers portray popular culture ideas?
How did newspapers contribute to, or create, popular culture?
What were some of the leading 19th century newspapers and periodicals for the general public?
What were some of the leading 19th century periodicals for women?

5. Have students create a report (or news report) with PowerPoint backgrounds.

6. Engage students in a class discussion comparing the role of 19th century newspapers in creating and maintaining popular culture with the role of the media in all its forms in creating and maintaining popular culture today.

Extending the Lesson: This lesson can be extended by taking a person or an event that was part of the popular culture of the 19th century and creating a “presentation” about that person or event as it would be done today.

Sources & Resources:

Websites:

Standards Compliance:
NCSS Strand 1 — Culture
NCSS Strand 2 — Time, Continuity and Change
NCSS Strand 3 — People, Places and Environments
NCSS Strand 5 — Individuals, Groups and Institutions
NCSS Strand 10 — Civic Ideals and Practices
NCTE Standard 1 — Students read fiction, nonfiction, classic and contemporary works to acquire information for various purposes.
NCTE Standard 3 — Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate and appreciate texts.
NCTE Standard 5 — Students use a wide range of strategies and elements to write to communicate with different audiences and for purposes.
NCTE Standard 8 — Students use a variety of technology and information resources to gather, synthesize and communicate knowledge.
ISTE Standard 3 — Technology productivity tools
ISTE Standard 4 — Technology communications tools
ISTE Standard 5 — Technology research tools

Credits: This lesson was developed by Dr. Averil McClelland and adapted by Marian Maxfield, Kent State University. AMERICAN EXPERIENCE reprints this lesson with permission from the National First Ladies’ Library and Historic Site.

Lesson 10: The Plain People: Quakers in America

Dolley Madison was reared as a Quaker. She grew up in a strict religious society that was set apart from other members of the community. When Dolley married James Madison, who was not a Quaker, the reaction of church leaders was one of utter rejection.

Skill: Middle School
Time Required: Two to three class periods

Objectives: Students will understand what a Quaker is, and will be able to identify changes and challenges that were experienced by Dolley Madison during her transition from leaving the Quaker community.

Materials Required: Access to the Internet, word processor (or paper and writing utensil), research tools (books, videos, photos, and magazines), printer.

Procedures:

1. Allow students the opportunity to explore and research the fundamentals of the Quaker religion and lifestyle of the 19th century.

2. Once a basic understanding of Quakers is obtained, instruct the students to research Dolley Madison’s lifestyle after she became First Lady. Web sources may be the most helpful. Use a general search engine (www.google.com), searching for “Dolley Madison”.

3. Assignment: Students can select one of two topics.

  • How Dolley’s extended family would have reacted to her transition.
  • What would Dolley have had to do differently in order to fit into her new role as First Lady? What do you think she thought about these changes?

4. Engage students in a discussion of the differences between the life of a Quaker woman and Dolley Madison’s life as First Lady.

Extending the Lesson: Have students share their thoughts and ideas about the Quakers and how being a Quaker might have influenced Dolley’s life growing up and as the First Lady.

Websites:

Standards Compliance:
NCSS Strand 1 — Culture
NCSS Strand 3 — People, Places and Environments
NCSS Strand 5 — Individuals, Groups and Institutions
NCTE Standard 1 — Students read fiction, nonfiction, classic and contemporary works to acquire information for various purposes.
NCTE Standard 8 — Students use a variety of technology and information resources to gather, synthesize and communicate knowledge.
ISTE Standard 3 — Technology productivity tools
ISTE Standard 5 — Technology research tools

Credits: This lesson was developed by Marian Maxfield, Kent State University. AMERICAN EXPERIENCE reprints this lesson with permission from the National First Ladies’ Library and Historic Site.

 

My American Experience

My American Experience photos

Share Your Story

How has a First Lady inspired you or someone you know? Who was president when you were young, and what were your impressions of the First Lady? What First Lady has most influenced the world around you, and how? Share your stories with AMERICAN EXPERIENCE.



  • Additional funding for this program was provided by

  • Land O Lakes
  • TPT
  • NEH