Ever since Lin-Manuel Miranda released his first song from Hamilton the musical, I’ve been using his songs in my classroom to teach History. With the release of the full soundtrack this past fall, I was instantly envisioning new ways to incorporate the songs from the musical within my class. I love all of the songs, however, I’m obviously most attracted to those that relate to seventh grade Social Studies. This led me to the cabinet battles. They’re fun, catchy, and they sneakily teach about rather dry topics like the assumption of state debt and the Neutrality Proclamation.
Ultimately, I designed a 4-part lesson that combines skill building, common core, and NY Social Studies content, into one of the most fun units I’ve ever witnessed my students experience. They loved this project. While some found the writing quite challenging, I’ve never seem them work so hard to make their rap excellent. I’ve also never seen them work so hard at revision. When I saw how popular this unit was, I decided to put it up on teacherspayteachers.com. It’s the first unit I’ve ever offered through teacherspayteachers, so I’m really interested to see if it garners any attention. If you purchase this lesson, and decide to use it in your classroom, please let me know what you think.
The unit plan includes three formative lessons that build the students’ skills and background knowledge about Washington’s presidency, the political differences between Hamilton and Jefferson, the U.S. response to the French Revolution, and the Whiskey Rebellion. I also include an “exit ticket” for each lesson that checks for student understanding. It culminates with summative project that requires the students to write a “rap battle” about the Whiskey Rebellion. The students will craft an introduction and conclusion by Washington, and the arguments regarding the Whiskey Rebellion from Hamilton and Jefferson. The arguments will be provided in “rap” form. If you have 40 minute class periods, this lesson will likely last 7-8 days in total. You could easily add this project within your current unit on the first presidents.