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Acts of Parliament

85 min
  • Students will be able to explain the major acts of Parliament in the 1760s and 1770s by creating a poster and participating in a gallery walk.
  • Students will be able to analyze the reactions of North American colonists to various acts of the British parliament in the 1760s and 1770s to assess the impact of these laws.

Chart paper for each of the group posters should be hung around the room ahead of time. The number of posters, therefore, should also be determined ahead of time. Depending on the number of students in the class, and therefore how many groups of two or three are needed, certain acts may be left out of this lesson at the teacher’s discretion. For example, a class of 21 may only be split into 7 groups of 3, or a class of 18 may be split into 9 groups of 2. Likewise, some classes may require two of each group; for example, a class of 28 may be split into 14 groups of 2, with each act of Parliament being covered by 2 groups. This will allow a large number of students to participate in the gallery walk at their own pace without crowding each poster.

If students typically struggle with primary source documents at this point in the year, the teacher may choose to model one of the Acts of Parliament and the poster creation process for the class. Read the act aloud (or have a higher-level student read it), and have the class follow along and annotate. Students should defend their annotations and be walked through this process as well, and collaborate as a class to construct a sample poster for that act. This process should be allotted 10-15 minutes, and the lesson times should be adjusted accordingly.

Students should be assigned to heterogeneous pairs or trios. For lower-level students, a differentiation option is to only require completing some of the Acts of Parliament around the room. For example, students may be required to only complete five posters, instead of all eight. The least significant acts in students’ mastery of this lesson include the Stamp Act (they can learn this content through the Stamp Act narrative), the Quartering Act, the Boston Port Act, or the Tea Act (they will likely learn this content through the Boston Tea Party narrative).

1. Students will answer the Warm-Up question on Handout A: Acts of Parliament: “Describe the relationship between the American colonies and the British government in 1763, at the end of the French and Indian War.”

2. Lead a discussion to refresh students’ knowledge about the relationship between Great Britain and its colonies by the end of 1763. Ask students follow-up questions such as:

  • What is Parliament? Is the relationship between the colonies and the king different from that of the colonies and Parliament? How so?
  • What were the consequences of salutary neglect in the colonies prior to the French and Indian War?
  • What are the cultural values of the colonies? What was important to colonial identity? Where did these values come from?
  • What are the consequences of war? What happens afterwards? For example, wars cost money, which then needs to be replenished.

1. Assign all students a number from 1 to 7 (or however many acts will be used). Students should then move to be seated by number with their assigned partners to read and annotate the corresponding act of Parliament excerpt on Handout B: Excerpts from Acts of Parliament according to the directions on Handout A: Acts of Parliament.

  1. Box words or phrases that represent cultural values of the colonies or colonial identity.
  2. Circle words or phrases that represent cultural values of Great Britain or English identity.
  3. Underline evidence of the text that demonstrates how this would act would be harmful to the colonies.
  4. Students will then answer the Analysis Questions on Handout A: Acts of Parliament.

2. Using Handout C: Poster Planning, Graphic Organizer, and Conclusion Questions students will plan their poster creation as a group. Each group will use chart paper to create a poster to display the following information:

  1. The date and name of their act of Parliament
  2. Summary of the act in 10 words or fewer
  3. Most significant quote from the act
  4. A visual to help others remember this act

3. Students will then use chart paper and markers to create a poster to display the key information about their assigned act.

4. Using Handout C: Poster Planning, Graphic Organizer, and Conclusion Questions, students will participate in a gallery walk of the other groups’ posters to record information in the chart. Students will visit each poster and complete the information on the chart for each act. Students should work with their peers to complete the final question in the chart at each poster. Depending on the number of students in the class, the amount of time students have at each poster may be limited and students can be rotated by setting a timer. Alternatively, students can move through this section of the lesson at their own pace.

Students will answer the Conclusion Questions on Handout C: Poster Planning, Graphic Organizer, and Conclusion Questions.

If students finish their poster early and there are remaining groups (see Facilitation Notes), students can complete a poster for a second act of Parliament.

If time allows, students can also be introduced to the Boston Tea Party and Boston Massacre narratives from Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness before reading about the Boston Port Act and the Quartering Act. Students can also read the Stamp Act narrative to gain a greater background.

Other laws and acts that could be included for an extension:

  • The Quartering Act, 1765: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/quartering_act_165.asp
  • The Massachusetts Government Act, 1774: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/mass_gov_act.asp
  • The Quebec Act, 1774: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/quebec_act_1774.asp
  • The Administration of Justice Act, 1774: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/admin_of_justice_act.asp

    1. Assign all students a number from 1 to 7 (or however many acts will be used). Students should then move to be seated by number with their assigned partners to read and annotate the corresponding act of Parliament excerpt on Handout B: Excerpts from Acts of Parliament according to the directions on Handout A: Acts of Parliament.

    1. Box words or phrases that represent cultural values of the colonies or colonial identity.
    2. Circle words or phrases that represent cultural values of Great Britain or English identity.
    3. Underline evidence of the text that demonstrates how this would act would be harmful to the colonies.
    4. Students will then answer the Analysis Questions on Handout A: Acts of Parliament.

    3. Using Handout C: Poster Planning, Graphic Organizer, and Conclusion Questions students will plan their poster creation as a group. Each group will use chart paper to create a poster to display the following information:

    1. The date and name of their act of Parliament
    2. Summary of the act in 10 words or fewer
    3. Most significant quote from the act
    4. A visual to help others remember this act

    4. Students will then use chart paper and markers to create a poster to display the key information about their assigned act.

    III. Application (15–20 min)

    Using Handout C: Poster Planning, Graphic Organizer, and Conclusion Questions, students will participate in a gallery walk of the other groups’ posters to record information in the chart. Students will visit each poster and complete the information on the chart for each act. Students should work with their peers to complete the final question in the chart at each poster. Depending on the number of students in the class, the amount of time students have at each poster may be limited and students can be rotated by setting a timer. Alternatively, students can move through this section of the lesson at their own pace.