In this unit, students will take a look at the historical vision of the American Dream as put together by our Founding Fathers. They will be asked: How, if at all, has this dream changed? Is this dream your dream? First students will participate in an American Dream Convention, acting as a particular historical figure arguing for his or her vision of the American Dream, and then they will write an argument laying out and defending their personal view of what the American Dream should be.
- Students read and annotate closely one of the documents that they feel expresses the American Dream.
- Students participate in an American Dream Convention, acting as a particular historical figure arguing his or her vision of the American Dream.
- Students write a paper, taking into consideration the different points of view in the documents read, answering the question “What is the American Dream now?”
- Students write their own argument describing and defending their vision of what the American Dream should be.
These questions are a guide to stimulate thinking, discussion, and writing on the themes and ideas in the unit. For complete and thoughtful answers and for meaningful discussions, students must use evidence based on careful reading of the texts.
- What has been the historical vision of the American Dream?
- What should the American Dream be? (What should we as individuals and as a nation aspire to?)
- How would women, former slaves, and other disenfranchised groups living during the time these documents were written respond to them?
BENCHMARK ASSESSMENT: Cold Read
During this unit, on a day of your choosing, we recommend you administer a Cold Read to assess students’ reading comprehension. For this assessment, students read a text they have never seen before and then respond to multiple-choice and constructed-response questions. The assessment is not included in this course materials.
- English Language Arts, Reading Informational Text, Reading Literature, Speaking and Listening
- High School
Preamble Dialectical Journal
Character Introduction Sheet
Independent Reading Group Organizer
“What is an American?” Annotation
Declaration of Independence Dialectical Journal
Audience Appeal Dialectical Journal
Argument Development Organizer
Map Your Argument Paper Planning
Document Message Dialectical Journal
Independent Reading Dialectical Journal
Convincing Lines Dialectical Journal
Close Reading Dialectical Journal
Bill of Rights Annotations
Jefferson’s Audience Dialectical Journal
American Dream Convention Overview
American Dream Convention Procedures
Paper Planning Packet
- Setting the Stage
Lesson 1Using this Course
Lesson 2Defining the American Dream
Lesson 3The Founders' American Dreams
Lesson 4Benchmark Assessment
Lesson 5How is an argument structured?
Lesson 6Audience Appeal
Lesson 7Bill of Rights
Lesson 8The Founders' American Dream
Lesson 9Productive Discussions
Lesson 10Independent Reading Groups
- Meeting the Players
Lesson 11American Dream Convention
Lesson 12Defining Your Audience
Lesson 13Close Reading
Lesson 14Effective Arguments
Lesson 15Tailoring Your Argument
- Making the Case for...
Lesson 16Portraying Your Character
Lesson 17Informational Writing
Lesson 18Presenting Information
Lesson 19Group Presentation Work
Lesson 20Introducing Your Character
Lesson 21Visions of the American Dream
Lesson 22Evaluating Arguments
Lesson 23Reading about the American Dream