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Teacher Feature

Teacher Feature

Nickel Knowledge


"Here was buried
Thomas Jefferson
Author of the Declaration of American Independence
of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom
and Father of the University of Virginia."

These are the words of the original epitaph that Thomas Jefferson wrote for placement on his grave upon the time of his death.  For a man so accomplished and so integrally involved with the development of our nation, this seems an extraordinarily humble statement.


The Westward Journey Nickel Series recognizes Jefferson's role in the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark Expedition.  While these activities played a crucial role in the expansion of our country, they were not the only accomplishments of Jefferson's life.

Ask your students the question, "What role did Thomas Jefferson play in changing society?"  Divide your students into small groups, and allow them to use classroom resources to investigate this question.  Instruct each group to focus on the way in which they feel he most greatly effected our country, and then create a presentation, using a method other than a written report, to share what they learned.  They should also create a design for a new nickel reverse which highlights their selection, and use this in their presentation.


The project described above reflects some of the national standards of learning as defined by the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), the National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE), and the International Society for Technology in Education.  These standards are listed below:

Language Arts Standards

Gather and use information for research purposes:  Students will read/listen to a story set in the early 1900s and will draw information from this story about the culture of America at this time.

Gather and use information for research purposes:  Students will use classroom resources to research the variety of roles that President Jefferson played in American society.

Demonstrate competence in speaking and listening as tools for learning:  Students will work in groups and will listen to the words of their work partners in order to develop an appropriate presentation.

Social Studies Standards

Individuals, Groups, and Institutions:  In this activity, students will examine the influence of a single man on his society.  They will analyze and communicate ways in which this man effected change in his country.

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