Role of Virginians in the Founding of the New Nation

Lesson 6: Role-Play:

Time Estimated: 2 days



Students will:

  1. Summarize roles and contributions of George Washington, James Madison, George Mason, and Thomas Jefferson in forming the new nation.
  2. Research, focusing on educational background, accomplishments, and contributions, one of the four historical figures to add to their knowledge base.
  3. Working in pairs or cooperative groups, construct questions and answers based on their knowledge and research to conduct a panel discussion.
  4. Create costumes with found materials and masks with the assistance of the art teacher to role play their historical figure.
  5. Conduct a panel discussion.
  6. Discuss and evaluate the performance.




  • Various resources, those already used and additional sources from online sites, classroom books, and the library.
  • Outlines for gathering and organizing information [to be created by the teacher depending on what information or categories s/he thinks are essential for students to know using topics and questions from previous lessons].
  • Assessment rubric (Project Evaluation Form)
  • Topic cards.
  • Items of clothing from home or the teacher to assemble costumes.
  • Supplies for mask. Check with the art teacher for suggested materials.
  • Self-evaluation sheet (Project Self-Evaluation)




  1. Ask students to briefly discuss the four Virginians studied and develop a summary about what has been learned.
  2. Tell students they will use what they already know and also do some additional research on one of the four historical figures. They will be working in one of four groups to complete the task. They will be given a criteria sheet to help guide them through the process. They will be expected to work cooperatively with each group member contributing to the success of the project. They will use various online resources and books to research their topic and then develop questions and answers for a panel discussion. They will develop simple costumes to assume the role of the character portrayed. Their audience might be their classmates and other classes of students and teachers, and/ or members of their families.
  3. Distribute outlines to be used for gathering information and the rubric that will be used for assessment.
  4. Divide the class into four groups ensuring each group includes students of varying skills and ability levels for optimal success.
  5. Groups will choose one topic randomly from a set of cards.
  6. Members within each group will pair up to begin research of the topic. They will use the outline to gather and organize their information. Information gathered will focus on educational background, accomplishments, and contributions to the new American nation. Students will draw conclusions about the historical figure based on their research.
  7. After research is completed group members will decide who will be asking questions and who will be answering. Those asking will work together to develop a set of questions for the panel discussion. Those answering will work together to anticipate what questions might be asked and rehearse to confidently answer possible questions posed. They will be able to confer with each other during the performance before answering questions.
  8. Ideas will have been discussed for simple costumes. They are to gather the resources needed from home or can be assisted by the teacher as needed. The art teacher will assist in the creation of character masks.
  9. On the day of the panel discussion, students will be given time to organize and do a final rehearsal. Use resources available for the best possible delivery of student performances. Either rearrange the room to be conducive for a panel discussion or possibly arrange to present in another location in the school. Groups take turns presenting.
  10. After each group has presented the class will come back together to debrief. The student audience will be able to respond with likes, and suggestions for improvement. Students will be asked to fill out a self-evaluation.
  11. Follow-up activity: This can be done as time allows. Student pairs will use Language Arts time to create newsletters reporting information about the debate. The writing process will be used to plan, write, revise, edit, and publish the newsletter. Check with the technology resource teacher and have her assist in setting up a newsletter template and possible graphics to insert. A rubric will be used to assess this piece of work.




This lesson will use graphic organizers, visuals, cooperative pairs and groups, materials to construct, and movement to accommodate many learning styles. Students will be grouped to support various skills and abilities. The teacher will support groups who need additional guidance and time to complete tasks.