Teaching history can be challenging. How do you make it meaningful for your students? How do you help them to make connections between events in order to understand how one event leads to another? How do you help students connect events from the past to their lives today?
I definitely don’t have all the answers, but I have learned that a big step in solving this problem is presenting your students with characters that are real and relatable. Lin Manuel-Miranda’s hit Broadway masterpiece, Hamilton, does just that. An adaptation of Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Ron Chernow’s biography, Alexander Hamilton, Hamilton is historically accurate but fast-paced and filled with colorful characters designed to make our Founding Fathers come alive.
This activity serves two purposes. Students close-read the songs’ lyrics and analyze them for mood, character development, and other literary elements. Then, students read the accompanying historical explanation, making historical connections, and answering comprehension, predicting, and inferential questions. This series continues with the second song in the musical “Aaron Burr, Sir” (there will soon be one close reading study for each song in the show) where Lin-Manuel Miranda introduces the narrator of the show (and the "villain") Aaron Burr, to Alexander Hamilton. Therefore, part two of this series will focus on the developing relationship between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton.
Included in this activity:
* Lyrics to "Aaron Burr, Sir", the second song of the musical, Hamilton
* Highlighted vocabulary
* Nonfiction reading passage- a short biography of Aaron Burr, as well as information on other characters introduced: John Laurens, Marquis de Lafayette, and Hercules Mulligan
* Close reading questions based on lyrics
* Comprehension and inference questions based on nonfiction reading passage
* research/prediction questions based on reading passage
This activity does NOT include a recording of the song, but you can download/stream the recording from iTunes, Amazon, or Spotify. I would play the recording while teaching the lesson. Listen to it once, and it will instantly become clear why it is so motivating to students.
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