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Drawing inspiration from the American holiday
“I have sworn upon the altar of god eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”
Every year Americans celebrate the Fourth of July in honor of the Declaration of Independence and the eventual birth of the United States. I find it a delightful conversation piece in my classrooms for many reasons. After all, students from other nations are often eager to learn more about the history of the United States. Additionally, discussion of principles like independence, freedom and democracy always sparks engaging debate. This year, I’ve assembled some great resources to supplement discussing Independence Day in the classroom.
For instance, the July edition of the Easy English Times, edited by Lorraine Ruston and published by Betty Malmgren, features several American-themed pieces including the front-pager “Symbols of America.” There are also a few pieces on immigration and presidents. Of course, I’m also pleased to see an excerpt from Compelling Conversations on page 6 on American Culture.
With respect to the Fourth of the July, I found American historian Kenneth C. Davis’ TedEd, “What you might not know about the Declaration of Independence” thought-provoking. It’s a great conversation starter on the topic of freedom and if all Americans truly obtained it in 1776. Davis, the best-selling author of “Don’t Know Much About History”, clearly follows Frederick Douglass’ classic “What the Fourth of July Means to American Slave.”
One final resource I like is the Constitution Center, and its section on the Bill of Rights. Conversation about the Declaration of Independence opens a door to its followers–the Constitution and the subsequent amendments. Though not specifically for ESL classrooms, the activities, particularly the “Creating Your Own Flag” one, balance the celebration of patriotism and diversity.
How was your Fourth of July weekend? How will you discuss independence, freedom and the history of the United States in your classroom?