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Lesson Plan

Keys to Jamestown

Main Subject Area: Social Studies

Additional Subjects: Language Arts

Duration of Lesson:  Two 50- to 60-minute sessions


  • Commemorative Coins

Brief Description:

    Using the Jamestown commemorative coins and grade-level texts as a reference, students will identify key events in the establishing of Jamestown and the settlement’s lasting impact. Students will connect these concepts to the images depicted on the Jamestown coins.

National Standard(s):

  • Time, Continuity, and Change
  • Civic Ideals and Practices

Additional Subject Area Standard(s):

  • Demonstrate competence in speaking and listening as tools for learning
  • Demonstrate competence in the general skills and strategies for reading a variety of informational texts
  • Demonstrate competence in the general skills and strategies for reading a variety of literary texts


    • Students will identify the impact and importance of the Jamestown settlement through examining the images on the 2007 Jamestown commemorative coins.

    • Students will define the terms “collaboration,” “community,” and “change” and explore how these ideas were demonstrated by the peoples of the Jamestown settlement.

Materials (online):

Materials (offline):

    • A grade-level-appropriate text for your classroom that highlights the establishment and the early years of the Jamestown Settlement. For example:

    1607: A New Look at Jamestown by Karen Lange

    Explore Colonial Jamestown with Elaine Landau by Elaine Landau

    The Jamestown Adventure: Accounts of the Virginia Colony, 1605–1614
    From the series “Real Voices, Real History”

    • Markers

    • Chart Paper (1 sheet per group and 3 sheets for Classroom Discussion)

    • Coin images (1 copy per group and 1 copy for classroom discussion). (Download the “Jamestown Anniversary Coins” worksheet, an Acrobat PDF.)

Coins Used in Lesson:

    2007 Jamestown 400th Anniversary commemorative coins

Grade Level(s):   6-8  

Procedures (online):

Procedures (offline):

    Session 1

    1. Write one of each the following words at the top of a piece of chart paper (one word per piece of paper): “Collaboration,” “Community,” and “Change.” Ask the students to take a few minutes to think about what each word means to them. How do these things impact their daily lives?

    2. After think time, have students brainstorm their responses. Note their responses on the chart paper, leaving room for definitions.

    3. Below each title on the charts, help the class to define each of the words. (Collaboration means working together, community is a neighborhood or group of people who share a common interest, and change is when things are no longer the same as they had been.) Keep the definitions on display.

    4. Help the students to make connections between the words and to see how they relate to one another. (Communities are impacted by change; collaboration can change a community).

    5. Briefly state where Jamestown is located, the date Jamestown was founded (1607), and that 2007 is the 400th anniversary of the town’s settlement.

    6. Divide the class into groups of 4 to 6 students. Distribute the “Jamestown Anniversary Coins” worksheet, 1 sheet per group.

    7. Ask the students to begin thinking about how they see collaboration, community, and change depicted on the coins shown on the worksheet.

    8. Assign each group one word, either “collaboration,” “community,” or “change.” Give each group a sheet of chart paper and markers.

    9. Using the selected text, coin images, and possibly information from the Internet, have each group discuss how its assigned idea was at work in Jamestown and how the Jamestown coins depict the concept.

    10. Have the groups use their chart paper to define, illustrate, and create a visual aid for a class presentation, to be given during the next session. Remind the students to include two central ideas: how the Jamestown settlement exemplified collaboration, community, or change, and how the idea is depicted on the Jamestown commemorative coins.

    Session 2

    1. Revisit the class definitions of collaboration, community, and change. Briefly review the founding of Jamestown based on material covered in class readings and discussions.

    2. Have each group present its word and visual aid to the class. Encourage the student presenters to highlight the way collaboration, community, or change impacted Jamestown as well as how the Jamestown coin designs depict the idea.

    3. Once all the students have made their presentations, revisit the class definitions from the previous session. Ask the students for examples of each word that were found in Jamestown itself and in the coin designs. Record class ideas on the chart paper.

    4. Ask the students:
    – What relationships they see between the three words.
    – How they see these relationships depicted on the coins.
    – What impact they think Jamestown has had on our world today.
    – Where they see evidence of collaboration, community, and change in their own world.

    5. Have students make these connections visible on the chart paper. They can draw lines connecting ideas, circle key or repeated words, etc. Respond to any student questions.

    6. Have students compose a letter as if they were a member of the original Jamestown community.
    – The letter should be addressed to a friend or family member who was not living
    in the community.
    – The letter should identify who the writer was and what changes he or she had
    witnessed with the establishment of Jamestown.
    – The letter should clearly state what the writer feels the goal of the Jamestown
    settlement was and what its lasting impact could be.

    7. The letter may be started in class and completed at home as an extension of the class discussion.

    8. When the letters are finished, have students share their letters, display them around the classroom, or include them on the teacher’s Web site or in a class newsletter.

Assessment / Evaluation:

    Use the students’ class presentation, class participation, and Jamestown letters to assess whether they have met the lesson objectives. Students’ knowledge can be assessed or reviewed with the completion of the "Jamestown Challenge" online quiz.

Differentiated Learning Options:

    Enrichment / Extension:

    Have students work in pairs or individually to take the "Jamestown Challenge" online quiz.

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