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American Revolution: Living Conditions at Valley Forge
Students study the conditions at Valley Forge through the American army's six month retreat during the Revolutionary War and how these conditions affected the relationships between individuals. Students work individually or in small groups to research information in the library media center and complete a three-part study sheet in which they gather facts, make inferences, and discuss their findings with the rest of the class. This lesson is designed to help students experience increased confidence in their research abilities by allowing students to explore and discover information and then share it with their peers.
Goals & Objectives:
The student will:
-use two or more sources of information to answer questions about the conditions at Valley Forge.
-infer meaning from facts found in more than one source.

During a unit on the American Revolution, the students may study the conditions for soldiers and others involved in the struggle for independence. This may be one of several lessons on the chronology of events leading to independence and how individuals coped during this period of American history.

The student will:
-become interested in the research process.
-understand the importance of information skills.
-experience increased confidence in research ability.
-achieve satisfaction in research accomplishments.
Materials & Sources:

Resource List
Interactive Study Sheet


School Libray Media Activities Monthly
Adapted for SOS by Kori Gerbig
School of Information Studies
Syracuse University

School Library Media Activities Monthly
December 1996; 13:4; 19-21


-This cooperative activity involves use of the library media center by students individually or in small groups. The classroom teacher initiates the lesson and the library media specialist helps students locate basic information about the colonial army at Valley Forge during the American Revolution. The classroom teacher completes the lesson with students.

-Valley Forge was a place for retreat rather than a battle with the British. However, it is very important because the army emerged revitalized. The teacher may introduce students to this historic period by using a film or visuals or by reading aloud diary entries from men and boys who were in camp.

-The teacher may talk about the individuals who were there, including George Washington, Baron Von Steuben, Nathanael Greene, etc., as well as examples of boys and men who were among the 11,000 involved. Women, including Martha Washington, were also at the camp.
-The teacher may explain that learning about historical events requires factual information before meaningful discussion can take place. The study sheet may be introduced so that students understand that they will be collecting information about this six-month period of American history. As the students read about Valley Forge, they will also be imagining what it was like so that they can discuss the final question.

-Students will visit the library media center in small groups to work with resources independently. The library media specialist will provide an overview of the materials and will introduce Internet sites. The library media specialist may review the three parts to the study sheet.

-Students will use the resources in the library media center to complete the first part of the interactive study sheet. The second part may be done in the classroom, although students may need to use dictionaries to find the meaning of the word “privation.” Students may also want to find out more detail on how cold or hungry soldiers might have been.

The second part of the worksheet is done with a partner. Students may discuss what they found.

-The third part of the research involves small-group discussion in the classroom. Students must be prepared to talk about how the facts led them to certain conclusions and how they think adversity can make a group stronger. Students may also discuss the difference between defeat and surrender. The teacher may ask students to write their summaries on the study sheet following the discussion.

The students may:
-research one of the individuals at Valley Forge and find out what happened to the ihim/her after this six-month period.
-pretend to be an individual at Valley Forge and write a diary entry about the experience.
-Using two or more sources of information, the student will answer questions about conditions at Valley Forge. The students will infer meaning and apply it to a broader question based on their facts.
School Library Media Activities Monthly
December 1996; 13:4; 19-21

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