Deciphering the Declaration of Independence

Class Length: 1 Class Meeting


Students will be able to:

1. Paraphrase and/or translate the language of the Declaration of Independence.

2. Compare, contrast, and connect their understanding of the main arguments of the

Declaration of Independence with causes and effects of other significant moments in early American history.

3. Apply their understanding of the Declaration of Independence with today’s



- Copy of the Declaration of Independence (cited reference)


Students will be dived up into groups and given a copy of the Declaration of Independence.

Each group will be responsible for paraphrasing key phrases and themes of the document into modern English, and present their paraphrased version to the classroom.

Ask students to consider the idea of citizen rights as it relates to the nature of the Civil War:

1. Did the South have the right to secede from the Union? Why/why not?

2. How is this related to the Revolutionary War?

3. Should a state be allowed to break away from the U.S. today? Why/why not?

Students will write consider and respond to the following scenario:

- Hawaii’s state leadership announces that they no longer wish to be associated with the United States. The leaders cite time zone issues, geographic and cultural isolation, and fear of global warming prospects as they matter to Hawaii. They feel they will be better prepared for their state’s future if it did not have to consider national interests.

- Put yourself in the shoes of the President of the United States. You have received this memo in your inbox and need to respond. Think about the issues that concerned early Americans and their right to independence and freedom. How would you respond to Hawaii’s leadership?


Mount, S. Ed. (2007). The declaration of independence. The U.S. Constitution Online.

Retrieved October 17th, 2007 from

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