Subject Area(s): Language Arts / Social Studies / Science

Grade Level(s): 4, 6

Format of Library of Congress media: Images, Maps

Best Instructional Practices


United States History to 1877


There will be two-45 minute lessons to introduce Habits of Mind and the Library of Congress resource site. The students will need an additional three-sixty minute sessions to complete their evidence sheet and a final product of their choice.

Lesson Summary

"The future is not some place we are going to but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made, the activity of making them changes both the maker and the destination." - John Schaar, Political Scientist, University of Santa Clara

The Radical Minds of Jefferson, Lewis and Clark are multi-concept lessons which focus on how intelligence is viewed from different perspectives in the history of mankind. Students will be encouraged to use primary sources to find accurate documentation to view events of the past from a different angle, developing new attitudes and understandings. Students will become historical sleuths using the tools, methods, knowledge, and skills essential to historians.

Habits of Mind (Art Costa and Bena Kallick) are interleaved throughout the lessons. Habits of Mind are dispositions displayed by intelligent people in response to problems, dilemmas, and enigmas, the resolution of which are not immediately apparent.

Students working together in cooperative groups will study different aspects of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Each group will evaluate mission directives from President Thomas Jefferson to Meriwether Lewis in a letter dated June 20, 1803 and use these to evaluate and substantiate the Habits of Mind demonstrated by Jefferson, Lewis and Clark. Each group will decide upon a product to share their information and conclusions about these pioneering men. Students will maintain an evidence sheet to document and support their claims of "intelligent behaviors" displayed by Thomas Jefferson, Meriwether Lewis, and William Clark.

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All of the materials used in this lesson plan are available for downloading as PDF Files and PowerPoint files, as appropriate. PDF Files can be viewed with the free Adobe Reader.

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