Grade Levels: 6-8, 9-12

In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades 6-12, students explore BrainPOP resources to learn about Alexander Hamilton.  Using what they learn about this hardworking Founding Father and about federalism, students take on the role of Alexander Hamilton writing and presenting a persuasive speech arguing for a strong central government.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Brainstorm what they know about Alexander Hamilton.
  2. Use a star diagram to identify Hamilton’s perspective on political and economic topics.
  3. Assume the role of Alexander Hamilton, writing and presenting a speech persuading people toward a federalist form of government.

Materials:

  • Internet access for BrainPOP
  • Interactive whiteboard
  • Class copies of Star Diagram

Preparation:

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Write “Alexander Hamilton” on a whiteboard or other display. Encourage students to brainstorm everything they know about the Founding Father, from his role in the government and his accomplishment to this life story. Jot their ideas on the board.
  2. Tell students that today they will watch a BrainPOP movie about Alexander Hamilton. If they’ve not noted it in their brainstorm, explain that Hamilton was one of America’s Founding Fathers, serving as the country’s first secretary of the Treasury. In that role, he strengthened and shaped America’s economy. Also make the point that as a Federalist, Hamilton advocated for a strong central government.
  3. Show the movie Alexander Hamilton on an interactive whiteboard or other large display to the whole class once through without pausing.
  4. Next, distribute the Graphic Organizer to each student. As they watch the movie a second time at their own computers or devices, have them pause to describe Hamilton’s opinions about each of the topics on the diagram. Remind them to keep in mind that Hamilton was a strong supporter of federalism -- the idea of a strong central government.
  5. Now have students take on the role of Alexander Hamilton. Tell them the year is 1783 and America has just won its independence from Britain. Remind them that after the American Revolution, the country was not in great shape -- the colonies were weakly united, the government was deeply in debt, and opinions were divided on how to run the country. Review that federalists, like Hamilton, believed in a strong central government while anti-federalists wanted to ensure that the states kept as much power as possible. Instruct students to use their notes from their completed Star Diagram to write a speech as Alexander Hamilton, arguing for a strong national government.
  6. Next have partners swap their speeches to review and edit. Allow time for this process and for revisions.
  7. Finally, have students present their speeches to a small group or the whole class.

Extension Activities:

Have a classroom debate. Divide students and assign one side Federalists and the other Anti-Federalists. Give them time to prepare and then let them debate their political perspective.

Challenge students to put their Alexander Hamilton smarts to the test by playing Time Zone X: Alexander Hamilton and put events related to Hamilton in chronological order.