University of Wisconsin–Madison

Pedagogical Suggestions Using the Founders on the Founders Page

Click here to view the Founders on the Founders Page


Assessing character traits ‐ Can be used for each or any number of the Founders.

  • Divide the class into working groups of 3‐5 students.
  • Have the students in their groups read the two quotations that are at the top of the page of a particular founder that has been selected.
  • Ask students to speculate as to what character traits are revealed in these two lead quotations. This should be done by doing a simple brainstorming session in their small groups. Each group should reach a consensus as to the traits they think the quotations illustrate.
  • This should be followed by a “report out” segment where each group explains their observations to the entire class. The teacher could then lead a large group discussion that synthesizes all the small groups’ suggestions into one working list of several (3‐5) traits.
  • After this the teacher might want to proceed to all of the quotations on the page and have the students consider if the other quotations on the page confirm their original assessment of that particular Founder. This phase can be done in a small group format, followed by a reporting out segment, and culminate in a large group discussion of the groups’ findings.
  • It is possible to extend this activity to as many Founders as you might think appropriate for your particular needs in your classroom.

Using a T‐Chart ‐ Can be used for each Founder or all the Founders

  • Divide the class into small working groups consisting of 3‐5 students.
  • Write the names of the 14 Founders on slips of paper and put them into a hat.
  • Have each group draw from the hat the names of Founders until all names have been selected.
  • Each group then is to go to the Founders on the Founders and focus their attention to their particular individual that they have chosen.
  • Before they look through the quotations have students create a T‐Chart with “Favorable” and “Unfavorable” as categories at the top of the chart. You may want to have another category called “Neutral.” They should approach the quotations with these categories in mind.

Founders

  • After reading through the entire list of quotations, in their small groups, have students place them into the categories they have created. They should be instructed to reach a consensus of opinion among the small group as to their categorizations.
  • Have the small groups present their assessments to the entire class. At this point the teacher should lead a discussion as to the findings of various groups in relationship to other group’s findings. Things that teachers may want to be attentive to might be differing classifications of particular quotes. If there are differences in classifications, it would be appropriate to have individuals or groups explain their reasoning.

“Founders Museum of Character Traits” ‐ Recommended as an extension activity from items 1 and 2.

  • Before “constructing” this museum, the class should have looked at and analyzed the character traits of many if not all of the 14 Founders listed on our webpage. For some ideas as to how students can cover this material see items 1 and 2 above.
  • Divide the class into groups of 3‐5 students and give each group poster sized sheets of paper.
  • Each group should discuss and reach a consensus as to what four dominant traits are noticeable in many of the Founders.
  • Each group is assigned the task of drawing the floor plan of a museum. The museum will have several (preferably four) wings/sections. The different wings or sections will be a trait and have particular Founders in that section of the museum. (For example, students might have selected the traits of, bravery, irritable, and wisdom as dominant traits that they see from their study of the Founders. They then will select particular Founders that they think should be displayed in each section of their museums. Thus, they might select George Washington as a display in the bravery wing, Samuel Chase as a display in the irritable wing, Madison in the intellectual wing, etc…)
  • It is important to have students be given an evaluation rubric before they begin creating their museums. There are many good sites that offer standard and customized rubrics for classroom use. Among the best is Rubistar. They offer dozens of rubrics and feature templates that can be adjusted for your specific needs.
  • Student then are assigned class time to work on drawing the floor plans of their museums. You may want to have them spend some time looking at various floor plans that are readily available at most websites that are associated with actual museums.
  • After the groupings have created their museums, each group can present their museum to the entire class. Again, you may want to have given the groups an oral presentation rubric to guide them in their preparation for this phase.

*Some Additional Suggestions. It may be helpful to have a staff member from a local museum, an architect, or a general contractor come in an assist the groups as the plan their museums. You also may want to have groups construct 3‐D models of their museums.

The Founders’ Spectrums ‐ Recommended as an extension activity based on items 1 and 2.

    Creating the Perfect Designer Founder‐ An extension activity.

  • After looking at the character traits of several if not all of the Founders, you can have student evaluate the Founders in regards to a specific trait.
  • The teacher should preselect a character trait. Some suggestions might be prudence, patience, eloquence, wisdom, brilliance, diligence, etc. It should be noted that it would be best if the teacher be well versed in the selections on the Founders page. This provides some background as to the kinds of traits that are exhibited in our selections. In other words, it reduces the risk of a teacher selecting a trait that is not present within the quotations on our website.
  • The teacher then should draw a spectrum on the chalkboard, overhead, whiteboard, or smart board.
  • The pre‐selected character trait should be labeled at the top of the spectrum. For example, if “eloquence” was selected the drawing would look like:

Very Eloquent                             Somewhat Eleoquent                             Not Eloquent At All

  • The class is divided into groups of 3‐5 students and given the task of assessing, discussing and placing Founders along the spectrum. All small groups work with one trait spectrum at the same time.
  • After the small groups have made selections, they explain their choices to the entire class. At this point the teacher should lead the discussion making sure each group thoroughly explains their reasons for their selections.
  • A final product that might be displayed in the classroom could be a large poster sized spectrum with the pictures, names, and the quotation(s) that illustrates the locational choice of the group. For example, if the above spectrum was chosen as a trait spectrum, it might look something like:

Founders
The Founders Poetry Project ‐ Creating verse based on the quotations from the Founders page. An extension activity that is recommended after a thorough exposure to many if not all the quotations about the Founders.

  • After spending some time looking at the Founders, you could have students create poems about individual Founders.
  • You might want to consider having the Language Arts teacher(s) assist in reviewing the different characteristics of various genres of poetry. Limericks, Cinquain, and Haiku work well.
  • Write the names of the Founders on slips of paper and have students draw the names of Founders.
  • Write on slips of paper the types of poems. Then have students draw the type of genre that they will work with.
  • The assignment is to compose a poem about their Founder utilizing the genre that they have selected.
  • For example, if some one selected “John Adams” and “limerick” it might be something like:

there once was a lad that was frumpy
his tenor and tone always grumpy
a rebel and saint
for abby most quaint
the path of his life always lumpy

  • You may want to have a poetry reading or a competition after the student have completed the assignment. You could utilize the Language Arts teacher(s) as advisors and judges.

Creating the Perfect Designer Founder ‐ An extension activity.

  • Divide the class into groups of 3‐5 students. Ask the groups think of the nation as a body and what is essential for it to function properly.
  • Ask the student to create a list of the necessary character traits that would be essential to create a successful country.
  • Have the groups identify important systems/features of the human body. Be careful here. You may want to exclude the reproductive and other systems that would prove distracting to the class. Examples that would work could be the brain, the vocal cords, hands, feet, ears, etc.
  • Ask the groups to consider the Founders as various parts of a body and identify them as such. You should not do this portion of the exercise if you have not spent some time reviewing the quotations and observations from the Founders page.
  • Give each group a large human outline drawn on butcher paper.
  • Each group should select and label the part of the body that their Founder typifies. There are many possibilities, but some examples might be:
  • James Madison- The Brain
  • Patrick Henry- The Voice
  • George Washington- The Thyroid
  • Thomas Paine- The Heart
  • After each group has “built the perfect founder” they should report to the entire class explaining their reasons for their decisions that they have made.