Teacher's Guide for COBBLESTONE ® Shay's Rebellion
Teacher's Guide prepared by: Peggy Epstein, 25 years as Language Arts Teacher: Hickman Mills School District, Kansas City, Missouri; MA Instruction and Curriculum University of Missouri at Kansas City.
For "A Difficult Decade" (pages 2-5)
- to develop an understanding of the historical reasons for rebellion, its causes and effects as well as the complexity of the issue
- to improve comprehension skills (by practicing scanning, by reading for specific information, by selecting information for writing projects, and by utilizing graphic organizers)
- to practice writing skills through a variety of activities both practical and creative
- to develop and enrich vocabulary
- to participate in small group and whole class activities
You might like to begin by asking students to think about the Declaration of Independence, pointing out that it was one thing to declare independence and another thing to fight the war to gain that independence. But the story didn't even end there.
Question: So did everyone just live happily ever after?
Pointing out that the answer to that question is "no," leads into the problems which led some citizens to rebel after the American Revolution.
For "Your Life as a Farmer" (pages 6-9)
- Ask students to draw a scale for weights at the bottom of a sheet of paper (or prepare copies for students before the lesson).
It would look something like this:
- Label the center of the scale "End of the American Revolution."
- Under the left side of the scale write POSITIVES and under the right side write NEGATIVES.
- Working together, ask students to find in the first paragraphs reasons why one would think the situation should have a good one for the people of the new United States after the American Revolution. Ask students to "layer" and number these above the left
side of the scale.
- Then students will layer on the right side those reasons the citizens were frustrated enough to be at the point of rebellion. Ask students to use at least 3-5 partial quotes in each of their answers.
For "A State Divided" (pages 10-12)
Ask students to read the article, thinking about it as if they were living in the time period described. After students have read the article, ask them to write the three following letters:
NOTE: You might want to create a rubric or scoring guide designed to reinforce any writing skills you are currently stressing.
- One letter (to a cousin in a distant state) will be written before the war; you will tell what your family's life is like and how you manage to get the essentials you need to survive. Include what you and other young people do to help out your families.
- A second letter (to the same cousin) will be written after the war and will tell what kinds of problems your family is having.
- A third letter is to be written to a government official (perhaps the governor); it will express your family's frustration and ask what can be done to help your family.
For "Will the Real Daniel Shay" (page 21), "Leading the Rebels" (pages 13-15), & "Leaders for the State" (pages 26 -27)
For this activity, divide the class in half. Give a copy of page 22 to half the students and a copy of page 23 to the other half. Explain to students that the differing viewpoints were not this simply and clearly delineated but that the western part of the state is meant to represent the poor farmers and craftsmen who lived outside of Boston and to the west; the eastern half is meant to represent the wealthy and well-educated aristocrats.
Write "the Massachusetts constitution" on the board; under this draw a line down the center of the board, labeling one side "west" and the other "east."
Ask students to take turns contributing ideas to the lists and debating the value of that item from their differing points of view.
Pair students (for fewer than 22 students, use fewer of the leaders for the state, for more than 22 students, double up on any one of the eleven choices of profiles).
For "The Action Unfolds" (pages 16-20)
Materials: Provide students with the following:
- a large sheet of white paper
- a smaller sheet of black paper
- a scissors
- Assign each pair a name of one of the men profiled in these three articles. Point out that no actual photographs of any of these men exist; the illustrations are picture painters' impressions.
- Ask students to place the name of their assigned historical figure at the top of the white paper (placed lengthwise).
- Ask students to cut a small silhouette (made either from their imagination or from the painting provided) and place it on the poster.
- Then provide students with the following list of information to include on their posters:
NOTE: Encourage students to use additional sources to complete their work.
- any dates given (and what they mean)
- any geographical places given (and what they mean)
- personal information, if any
- interesting fact other than the above
- Students may be asked to present their work to the class.
For "Aftermath in Massachusetts" (pages 29-31)
After students complete the study guide, you might want to hold a discussion about whether or not students feel these rebellions were justified. Following (or during) that discussion, students will be made aware of the changes which occurred as a result of the rebellion by reading the following article:
- from page 16 and 17
- Give the five W's from the first paragraph.
- Do the same for the event that happened one week later.
- What did the justices do as a result?
- Give the five W's for the action taken in early September.
- What was the result?
- from page 18
- What did the rebels accomplish in Great Barington?
- In Springfield, what did Shay's troops demand (and what was the result)?
- How did the federal government deceive the men it recruited?
- How many men did Knox try to recruit? How many did they actually find?
- What did the Militia Act proclaim?
- What did the governor of Massachusetts do which was compared to "British tyranny?" (ends on page 19)
- from page 16
- What did Governor Bowdoin do without a vote of the legislature?
- Who was in charge of this army?
- In approximately 35 words, describe the battle at the arsenal (description ends on page 20).
- from page 20
- In about 20 words, describe what happened at Petersham.
Ask students to scan the article and find ten changes which occurred as the government attempted to address the state's problems.
For "Pardon Me, Please" (pages 32-33)
Before beginning the following activity (particularly if you held the discussion about the justification of the rebels), you might want to ask students what kind of punishment they feel would be appropriate for the rebels.
Activity: Rebels and the Numbers
Find the answer to the following addition problem:
||Number of dollars offered for the capture of Daniel Shay
||Number of men who actually served time in jail and paid for his offense
||Number of men convicted of treason and sentenced to death
||Number of men hanged
||Year in which Hancock had signed pardons for all the leaders of the rebellion, including Daniel Shay
(Answer: 750 + 1 + 14 + 2 + 1788 = 2555.)