by Tim Bailey
For a resource on John Winthrop from
the Gilder Lehrman Collection click here.

Unit Objective

This unit is part of Gilder Lehrman’s series of Common Core State Standards–based teaching resources. These units were written to enable students to understand, summarize, and analyze original texts of historical significance. Students will demonstrate this knowledge by writing summaries of selections from the original document and, by the end of the unit, articulating their understanding of the complete document by answering questions in an argumentative writing style to fulfill the Common Core State Standards. Through this step-by-step process, students will acquire the skills to analyze any primary or secondary source material.

While the unit is intended to flow over a four-day period, it is possible to present and complete the material within a shorter time frame. For example, the first two days can be used to ensure an understanding of the process with all of the activity completed in class. The teacher can then assign lesson three as homework. The argumentative essay is then written in class on day three.

Lesson 1

Objective

Students will be asked to “read like a detective” and gain a clear understanding of the “City upon a Hill” section of John Winthrop’s 1630 sermon, “A Model of Christian Charity.” Through reading and analyzing the original text, the students will know what is explicitly stated, draw logical inferences, and demonstrate these skills by writing a succinct summary using the author’s and then restating that summary in the student’s own words. In the first lesson this will be facilitated by the teacher and done as a whole-class lesson.

Introduction

Tell the students that they will be learning what Governor John Winthrop said to the Massachusetts Bay colonists about the “city upon a hill” in his 1630 sermon by reading and understanding Winthrop’s own words. Resist the temptation to put the sermon into too much context. Remember, we are trying to let the students discover what Winthrop had to say and then develop ideas based solely on his words.

Materials

  • “City upon a Hill” excerpt from John Winthrop’s sermon, 1630 (PDF). The complete sermon can be found in Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, series 3, vol. 7 (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1838), 33–48. The selected passages in this unit are from pages 46–48.
  • Summary Organizer #1 (PDF)
  • Overhead projector, Elmo projector, or similar device

Procedure

  1. All students are given a copy of the “City upon a Hill” section of Winthrop’s sermon and are asked to read it silently to themselves. Make certain that students understand that the original text has been edited for this lesson. Explain the purpose and use of ellipses.
  2. The teacher then “share reads” the text with the students. This is done by having the students follow along silently while the teacher begins reading aloud. The teacher models prosody, inflection, and punctuation. The teacher then asks the class to join in with the reading after a few sentences while the teacher continues to read along with the students, still serving as the model for the class. This technique will support struggling readers as well as English Language Learners (ELL).
  3. The teacher explains that the students will be analyzing the first part of the text today and that they will be learning how to do in-depth analysis for themselves. All students are given a copy of Summary Organizer #1. This contains the first selection from Winthrop’s sermon.
  4. The teacher puts a copy of Summary Organizer #1 on display in a format large enough for all of the class to see (an overhead projector, Elmo projector, or similar device). Explain that today the whole class will be going through this process together.
  5. Explain that the objective is to select “Key Words” from the first section and then use those words to create a summary sentence that demonstrates an understanding of what Winthrop was saying in the first paragraph.
  6. Guidelines for selecting the Key Words: Key Words are very important contributors to understanding the text. Without them the selection would not make sense. These words are usually nouns or verbs. Don’t pick “connector” words (are, is, the, and, so, etc.). The number of Key Words depends on the length of the original selection. This selection is 136 words so we can pick seven or eight Key Words. The other Key Words rule is that we cannot pick words if we don’t know what they mean. So as the class begins selecting key words, there will be opportunities to teach students how to use context clues, word analysis, and dictionary skills to discover word meanings.
  7. Students will now select seven or eight words from the text that they believe are Key Words and write them in the box to the right on their organizers.
  8. The teacher surveys the class to find out what the most popular choices were. The teacher can either tally this or just survey a show of hands. Using this vote and some discussion the class should, with guidance from the teacher, decide on seven or eight Key Words. For example, let’s say that the class decides on the following words: posterity, walke humbley (these are two words, but you can allow it if it makes sense to do so), God, brotherly affection, meekeness, labour, community, and unitie. Now, no matter which words the students had previously selected, have them write the words agreed upon by the class or chosen by you into the Key Words box on their organizers.
  9. The teacher now explains that, using these Key Words, the class will write a sentence that summarizes what Winthrop was saying. This should be a class discussion-and-negotiation process. For example, “For our posterity we must walk humbley with God; show brotherly affection and meekeness while as a community we labour for unitie.” You might find that the class decides they don’t need the some of the words to make it even more streamlined. This is part of the negotiation process. The final negotiated sentence is copied into the organizer in the third section under the original text and Key Words sections.
  10. The teacher explains that students will now put the summary sentence into their own words, not having to use Winthrop’s words. Again, this is a discussion-and-negotiation process. For example, “For the sake of our children we need to pray, work hard, and be nice to each other.”
  11. Wrap-up: Discuss vocabulary that the students found confusing or difficult. If you choose, you could have students use the back of their organizers to make a note of these words and their meanings.

Lesson 2

Objective

Students will be asked to “read like a detective” and gain a clear understanding of the “City upon a Hill” section of John Winthrop’s 1630 sermon, “A Model of Christian Charity.” Through reading and analyzing the original text, the students will know what is explicitly stated, draw logical inferences, and demonstrate these skills by writing a succinct summary and then restating that summary in the student’s own words. In the second lesson the students will work with partners and in small groups.

Introduction

Tell the students that they will be further exploring what John Winthrop was talking about in the second selection from his sermon to the Massachusetts Bay colonists by reading and understanding Winthrop’s words and then being able to tell, in their own words, what he said. Today they will be working with partners and in small groups.

Materials

Procedure

  1. All students are given a copy of the excerpt from the sermon and are asked to read it silently to themselves.
  2. The students and teacher discuss what they did yesterday and what they decided was the meaning of the first selection.
  3. The teacher then “share reads” the second selection with the students.
  4. The teacher explains that the class will be analyzing the second selection from Winthrop’s sermon today. All students are given a copy of Summary Organizer #2. This contains the second selection from the sermon.
  5. The teacher puts a copy of Summary Organizer #2 on display in a format large enough for all of the class to see (an overhead projector, Elmo projector, or similar device). Explain that today they will be going through the same process as yesterday but as partners and small groups.
  6. Explain that the objective is still to select “Key Words” from the second paragraph and then use those words to create a summary sentence that demonstrates an understanding of what Winthrop  was talking about in that selection.
  7. The guidelines for selecting Key Words are the same as they were yesterday. However, because this paragraph is longer than the last one at 241 words, they can pick ten Key Words.
  8. Pair the students up and have them negotiate which Key Words to select. After they have decided on their words both students will write them in the Key Words box on their organizer.
  9. The teacher now puts two pairs together. These two pairs go through the same discussion-and-negotiation process to come up with their Key Words. Be strategic in how you make your groups to ensure the most participation by all group members.
  10. The teacher now explains that the group will use the Key Words to build a sentence that summarizes what John Winthrop was talking about. This is done by the group negotiating with its members on how best to build the sentence. Try to make sure that everyone is contributing to the process. It is very easy for one student to take control of the entire process and for the other students to let them do so. All of the students should write their negotiated sentence into their organizers.
  11. The teacher now asks for the groups to share out the summary sentences they have created. This should start a teacher-led discussion that points out the qualities of the various attempts. How successful were the groups at understanding Winthrop’s text and were they careful to only use Winthrop’s Key Words in doing so?
  12. The teacher explains that the group will now be restating the summary sentence in their own words, not having to use Winthrop’s words. Again, this is a group negotiation process. After they have decided on a sentence it should be written into their organizers. Again, the teacher should have the groups share out and discuss the clarity and quality of the groups’ attempts.
  13. Wrap-up: Discuss vocabulary that the students found confusing or difficult. If you choose, you could have students use the back of their organizers to make a note of these words and their meanings.

Lesson 3

Objective

Students will be asked to “read like a detective” and gain a clear understanding of the “City upon a Hill” section of John Winthrop’s 1630 sermon, “A Model of Christian Charity.” Through reading and analyzing the original text, the students will know what is explicitly stated, draw logical inferences, and demonstrate these skills by writing a succinct summary and then restating that summary in the student’s own words. In this lesson the students will be working individually.

Introduction

Tell the students that they will be further exploring what John Winthrop was talking about in the third selection from his sermon to the Massachusetts Bay colonists by reading and understanding Winthrop’s words and then being able to tell, in their own words, what he said. Today they will be working by themselves on their summaries.

Materials

Procedure

  1. All students are given a copy of the text and are asked to read it silently to themselves.
  2. The students and teacher discuss what they did yesterday and what they decided was the meaning of the first and second selections.
  3. The teacher then “share reads” the third selection with the students.
  4. The teacher explains that the class will be analyzing the third selection from Winthrop’s sermon today. All students are given a copy of Summary Organizer #3. This contains the third selection from the sermon.
  5. The teacher puts a copy of Summary Organizer #3 on display in a format large enough for all of the class to see (an overhead projector, Elmo projector, or similar device). Explain that today they will be going through the same process as yesterday, but they will be working by themselves.
  6. Explain that the objective is still to select “Key Words” from the third paragraph and then use those words to create a summary sentence that demonstrates an understanding of what Winthrop was talking about in that selection.
  7. The guidelines for selecting Key Words are the same as they were yesterday. However, because this paragraph is shorter (164 words) they must pick seven to eight Key Words.
  8. Have the students decide which Key Words to select. After they have chosen their words they will write them in the Key Words box on their organizers.
  9. The teacher now explains that, using these Key Words, each student will build a sentence that summarizes what Winthrop was saying. The students should write their summary sentences into their organizers.
  10. The teacher explains that they will now be restating their summary sentence in their own words, not having to use Winthrop’s words. This should be added to their organizers.
  11. The teacher now asks for students to share out the sentences they have created. This should start a teacher-led discussion that points out the qualities of the various attempts. How successful were the students at understanding what Winthrop was talking about?
  12. Wrap-up: Discuss vocabulary that the students found confusing or difficult. If you choose, you could have students use the back of their organizers to make a note of these words and their meanings.

Lesson 4

Objective

This lesson has two objectives. First, the students will synthesize the work of the last three days and demonstrate that they understand what Winthrop was talking about in the “City upon a Hill” section of his 1630 sermon. Second, the teacher will ask questions of the students that require them to make inferences from the text and to support their conclusions with explicit information from the text in a short essay.

Introduction

Tell the students that they will be reviewing what John Winthrop was talking about in his 1630 sermon to the Massachusetts Bay colonists. Second, you will be asking them to write a short argumentative essay about this sermon; explain that their conclusions must be backed up by evidence taken directly from the text.

Materials

Procedure

  1. All students are given a copy of the excerpt from the sermon and then are asked to read it silently to themselves.
  2. The teacher asks the students for their best personal summary of selection one. This is done as a negotiation or discussion. The teacher may write this short sentence on the overhead or similar device. The same procedure is used for selections two and three. When they are finished the class should have a summary, either written or oral, of this section of Winthrop’s sermon in only a few sentences. This should give the students a way to state what the general purpose or purposes of the sermon were.
  3. The teacher can have the students write a short essay now addressing one of the following prompts or do a short lesson on constructing an argumentative essay. If the latter is the case, save the essay writing until the next class period or assign it for homework. Remind the students that any arguments they make must be backed up with words taken directly from Winthrop’s sermon. The first prompt is designed to be the easiest.

Prompts

  1. In this sermon John Winthrop writes of both the consequences and benefits of following, or not following, “the Lord our God.” How does he see this as affecting the colony?
  2. Using John Winthrop’s own words explain why the Massachusetts Bay Colony will be “a Citty upon a Hill” and why does he consider it so?
  3. In this sermon John Winthrop uses the word “wee” (we) 25 times. Using Winthrop’s own words examine why he used this word so often.

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Discussion

Can do exercise in 1-2 periods and assign for h.w.


I plan to use this activity in the fall of 2013-U.S. History class-. I think this is a great activity and look forward to sharing my comments.


Thank you for your comment. We would love to hear how your students react to the lessons and also any feedback you have for us regarding the unit.
Sasha


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