AP Lang: The Declaration of Independence, day 1

Standard: ELAGSE11-12RI9 Analyze foundational U.S. documents of historical and literary significance (including The Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address) for their themes, purposes, and rhetorical features. For British Literature, American Literature, and Multicultural Literature use comparable documents of historical significance.

Learning Target: I can analyze the Declaration of Independence for its historical significance and context, as well as consider its rhetorical features, persuasiveness, and the narrative voice of the author.

Opening Session: Continue reading Anthem. When the timer goes off, write a journal entry where you consider Equality’s growing independence and what you think independence means to him, versus what independence means to you as a teenager in modern America.

Work Session:

Today we’re reading one of the most important documents in American history, the Declaration of Independence. Obviously this document changed the course of history, right? So as we get into it, I want you to consider how the author, Thomas Jefferson, must have felt as he was writing it. Do you think he knew the last impact his words would have?

We’re going to read through the Declaration as a class, one paragraph at a time. Most of the paragraphs are little short things. After each paragraph, we’ll discuss what they mean, and then continue on. I expect this will take most of class, especially with vocabulary and all, but I also have several discussion questions to bring up with you as time allows.

We will continue our analysis of this document tomorrow, when you’ll be given a chance to do a little writing of your own!

Closing Session:


  1. ADROIT; adj
    1. Skillfull, expert in the use of the hands or mind
  2. AMICABLE; adj.
    1. Peaceful, friendly
  3. AVERSE; adj.
    1. Having a deep-seated distaste; opposed, unwilling
  4. BELLIGERENT; adj/n
    1. Given to fighting, warlike, combative, aggrssive
    2. One at war, one engaged in war
  5. BENEVOLENT; adj
    1. Kind, charitable
  6. CURSORY; adj
    1. Hasty, not thorough
    1. Treachery, deceitfulness
  8. EXTOL; v
    1. To praise extravagantly
  9. FEASIBLE; adj
    1. Possible, able to be done
  10. GRIMACE; n/v
    1. A wry face, facial distortion
    2. To make a wry face
  11. HOLOCAUST; n
    1. A large-scale destruction, especially by fire; a vast slaughter; a burnt offering
  12. IMPERVIOUS; adj
    1. Not affected or hurt by; admitting of no passage or entrance
  13. IMPETUS; n
    1. A moving force, impulse, stimulus
  14. JEOPARDY; n.
    1. danger
  15. METICULOUS; adj
    1. Extremely careful; particular about details
  16. NOSTALGIA; n
    1. A longing for something past; homesickness
    1. The purest essence or form of something; the most typical example
    1. To move backward; to return to an earlier condition
    1. To examine closely
  20. TEPID; adj
    1. Lukewarm; unenthusiastic, marked by an absence of interest

Assessment: Formative (Vocabulary quiz and journal check on Friday)

Differentiation: Process (Scaffolded questions)

Homework: Read 20 minutes in your Free Choice book; write a journal entry where you consider how Jefferson might have felt as he drafted the Declaration of Independence.

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