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Give Me Liberty

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Students will define “liberty” and explore the concept in our nation’s history and culture. Students will connect the office of the presidency to our nation’s development and its place in history, then create a multimedia presentation.

Coin Type(s)

  • Dollar

Coin Program(s)

  • Presidential $1 Coin


  • Students will define the term “liberty.”
  • Students will explore the concept of liberty in our nation’s history and how it is reflected throughout our rich culture.
  • Students will connect the office of the presidency to our nation’s development and its place in history.
  • Students will create a multimedia presentation using primary and secondary sources on the Internet, texts, or other resources.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Social Studies

Minor/supporting Subject Area Connections

  • Language Arts


  • Eleventh grade
  • Twelfth grade

Class Time

Sessions: Five
Session Length: 45-60 minutes
Total Length: 151-500 minutes


  • Whole group
  • Small groups
  • Individual work

Background Knowledge

Students should have a basic knowledge of:

  • United States presidents
  • Responsibilities of United States president
  • Presidential documents (letters, speeches)
  • Americana (songs, speeches, news clips, photographs, etc.)
  • United States history
  • Using primary and secondary research sources

Terms and Concepts

  • Obverse (front)
  • Reverse (back)
  • Liberty


  • Copies of the worksheets attached to this lesson plan
  • Information from the Presidential $1 Coin Lesson Plan Resource Center (available at$1coin/LP/resources) including, for any available president, the following:
    • An overview of the Presidential $1 Coin Program
    • Information from links
    • Images of the front and back of any presidential $1 coin
  • 1 overhead projector
  • Newsprint paper
  • Markers
  • Presidential $1 coins
  • Copies of age-appropriate texts that provide basic historical information about American presidents. For example:
    • Words that Shook the World: 100 Years of Unforgettable Speeches and Events by Richard Greene
    • Great American Speeches (Library of Freedom) by Gregory Suriano (editor)
    • – To the Best of My Ability: The American Presidents (revised) by James M. MacPherson
  • Computers with Internet access and multimedia software
  • Text of Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005 (Public Law 109-145, 109th Congress) through the United States Mint Web site at$1coin/index.cfm (optional)


  • Make copies of the following:
    • “Give Me Liberty—Instructions” (1 per student)
    • “Give Me Liberty—Note-Taking Worksheet” (1 per student)
    • “Give Me Liberty—Grading Rubric” (1 per student)
  • Arrange to use the school library and computer lab.
  • Make overhead transparencies of each of the following:
  • Locate age-appropriate texts that provide basic historical information about American presidents (see examples under “Materials”).
  • Bookmark Internet sites that contain biographical information and primary historical documents related to American presidents.
  • Create appropriate student groupings.

Worksheets and Files

Lesson plan, worksheet(s), and rubric (if any) at

Sessions 1 and 2

  1. Display the word “liberty.” Ask the students to define what the word “liberty” means to them by considering synonyms for the word. Ask the students to list any times they have used the word, read the word, or heard the word. Discuss the responses as a class and record the responses. Ask the students to tell you when they believe the word first became significant in the United States. If the students have been unable to provide examples, remind them of these instances in American history:
    • “Give me liberty or give me death.” (Patrick Henry)
    • “My country, ’tis of thee, / Sweet land of liberty” (Samuel Smith)
    • The Statue of Liberty
    • Lady Liberty
    • Liberty Bell
    • Liberty Bonds
    • “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” (Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence)
    • “We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union,… secure the Blessings of liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…” (James Madison and the United States Constitution)
  2. Ask the students whether the focus of the word “liberty” has changed during different periods of American history.
  3. Discuss how “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is woven through the fabric of our nation.
  4. Introduce the students to the Presidential $1 Coin Program. Display the transparency of any presidential dollar coin obverse. Ask the students to examine it and tell you what they know about this picture. The students should be able to identify this as the front of a coin and that it depicts a particular president. Tell the students that the Presidential $1 Coin Program began in 2007 to commemorate each of our nation’s presidents. The program calls for four new dollar coin designs to be released per year in the order the presidents served the country. Point out to the students that each obverse in the series depicts a different president and shows the years the president served in office and the number of that presidency.
  5. Display the transparency of the back of the coin. Tell the students that the Statue of Liberty is the symbolic image that unifies all of the coins. Have the students consider why this American symbol was selected. After discussing this, display the overhead transparency of the “Dollar Coin Legislation” sheet so the class can see how the image aligns with the wording of the law.
  6. Distribute a copy of or show overhead transparencies of the following:
    • “Give Me Liberty—Instructions”
    • “Give Me Liberty—Note-Taking Worksheet”
    • “Give Me Liberty—Rubric”
  7. Review the instructions for the assignment with the students.
  8. Assign small groups to conduct research on the different presidents. Tell the students that Sessions 3 and 4 will be held in the computer lab and/or library.

Sessions 3 and 4

  1. Give the students time to work with the library and computer resources. The students should complete the “Note-Taking Worksheet,” do their research, and develop their multimedia presentations concurrently.
  2. Monitor the groups to be sure they will have enough time to complete the tasks.
  3. The students should complete their research and locate appropriate media sources for homework.

Session 5

  1. Have the students show their presentations to the class.
  2. Collect the worksheets and research materials for evaluation.
  3. Have students in the class assess the groups’ presentations. Use their assessments as part of the grade for the presentations.

Differentiated Learning Options

  • Group students to accommodate all learning styles.
  • Allow students to complete the assignment as an independent study.
  • Provide different levels of texts and sources.
  • Adjust session times.
  • Allow students to use note cards instead of the “Note-Taking Worksheet.”


  • Write a one-act play that depicts a group of Americans expressing appreciation for their liberty.
  • Assume the role of someone in a given time period and have him/her talk about liberty and what it means to them.
  • Create posters that capture the symbolic richness of liberty in our society and our nation.
  • Create a written dialogue in which four or five presidents from different time periods share ideas about upholding liberty.
  • Create a board game that depicts liberty during particular time periods. Use liberty as a symbol and a connection between our nation, its history, and its people. Include as many historical references as possible.
  • Use the note-taking worksheet to assess the students’ research.
  • Use the rubric to evaluate whether the students have met the lesson’s objectives.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: RL.11-12 Reading: Informational Text
Grade(s): Grades 11– 12
Cluster: Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity

  • RI.11-12.10.
    • By the end of grade 11, read and comprehend literary nonfiction in the grades 11-CCR text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
    • By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend literary nonfiction at the high end of the grades 11-CCR text complexity band independently and proficiently.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: RL.11-12 Reading: Informational Text
Grade(s): Grades 11– 12
Cluster: Craft and Structure

  • RI.11-12.4. Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term or terms over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).
  • RI.11-12.5. Analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of the structure an author uses in his or her exposition or argument, including whether the structure makes points clear, convincing, and engaging.
  • RI.11-12.6. Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text in which the rhetoric is particularly effective, analyzing how style and content contribute to the power, persuasiveness or beauty of the text.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: RL.11-12 Reading: Informational Text
Grade(s): Grades 11– 12
Cluster: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

  • RI.11-12.7. Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.
  • RI.11-12.8. Delineate and evaluate the reasoning in seminal U.S. texts, including the application of constitutional principles and use of legal reasoning (e.g., in U.S. Supreme Court majority opinions and dissents) and the premises, purposes, and arguments in works of public advocacy (e.g., The Federalist, presidential addresses).
  • RI.11-12.9. Analyze seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and nineteenth-century foundational U.S. documents of historical and literary significance (including The Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address) for their themes, purposes, and rhetorical features.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: RL.11-12 Reading: Informational Text
Grade(s): Grades 11– 12
Cluster: Key Ideas and Details

  • RI.11-12.1. Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
  • RI.11-12.2. Determine two or more central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to provide a complex analysis; provide an objective summary of the text.
  • RI.11-12.3. Analyze a complex set of ideas or sequence of events and explain how specific individuals, ideas, or events interact and develop over the course of the text.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: L.11-12 Language
Grade(s): Grades 11– 12
Cluster: Conventions of Standard English

  • L.11-12.1. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
    • Apply the understanding that usage is a matter of convention, can change over time and is sometimes contested.
    • Resolve issues of complex or contested usage, consulting references (e.g., Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage, Garner's Modern American Usage) as needed.
  • L.11-12.2. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation and spelling when writing. 
    • Observe hyphenation conventions.
    • Spell correctly.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: SL.11-12 Speaking and Listening
Grade(s): Grades 11– 12
Cluster: Comprehension and Collaboration

  • SL.11-12.1. Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 11-12 topics, texts and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively. 
    • Come to discussions prepared, having read and researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence from texts and other research on the topic or issue to stimulate a thoughtful, well-reasoned exchange of ideas.
    • Work with peers to promote civil, democratic discussions and decision-making, set clear goals and deadlines and establish individual roles as needed.
    • Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that probe reasoning and evidence, ensure a hearing for a full range of positions on a topic or issue, clarify, verify or challenge ideas and conclusions and promote divergent and creative perspectives.
    • Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, synthesize comments, claims and evidence made on all sides of an issue, resolve contradictions when possible; and determine what additional information or research is required to deepen the investigation or complete the task.
  • SL.11-12.2. Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) in order to make informed decisions and solve problems, evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source and noting any discrepancies among the data. 
  • SL.11-12.3. Evaluate a speaker's point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric, assessing the stance, premises, links among ideas, word choice, points of emphasis and tone used.  

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: SL.11-12 Speaking and Listening
Grade(s): Grades 11– 12
Cluster: Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas

  • SL.11-12.4. Present of information, findings and supporting evidence, conveying a clear and distinct perspective, such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning, alternative or opposing perspectives are addressed and the organization, development, substance and style are appropriate to purpose, audience and a range of formal and informal tasks. 
  • SL.11-12.5. Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning and evidence and to add interest. 
  • SL.11-12.6. Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: W.11-12 Writing
Grade(s): Grades 11– 12
Cluster: Research to Build and Present Knowledge

  • W.11-12.7. Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including self-generated questions) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation. 
  • W.11-12.8. Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess strengths and limitations of each source in terms of the task, purpose and audience; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and overreliance on any one source and following a standard format for citation. 
  • W.11-12.9. Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection and research. 
    • Apply grade 11-12 reading standards to literature (e.g., "Demonstrate knowledge of eighteenth-, nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century foundational works of American literature, including how two or more texts from the same period treat similar themes or topics").
    • Apply grade 11-12 reading standards to literary non-fiction (e.g., "Delineate and evaluate the reasoning in seminal US texts, including the application of constitutional principles and use of legal reasoning [e.g., in US Supreme Court Case majority opinions and dissents] and the premises, purposes and arguments in works of public advocacy [e.g., The Federalist, presidential addresses]".

Discipline: Social Studies
Domain: All Thematic Standards
Cluster: Individual Development and Identity
Grade(s): Grades K–12

Teachers should:

  • assist learners in articulating personal connections to time, place, and social/cultural systems
  •  help learners to appreciate and describe the influence of cultures, past and  present, upon the daily lives of individuals
  • assist learners to describe how family, religion, gender, ethnicity, nationality, socioeconomic status, and other group and cultural influences contribute to the development of a sense of self
  • have learners apply concepts, inquiry, methods, and theories in the study of human growth and development, learning, motivation, behavior, perception, and personality
  • guide learners as they analyze the interactions among ethical, ethnic, national, and cultural factors in specific situations
  • help learners to analyze the role of perceptions, attitudes, values, and beliefs in the development of personal identity and their effect upon human behavior
  • have learners compare and evaluate the impact of stereotyping, conformity, acts of altruism, discrimination, and other behaviors on individuals and groups
  • help learners understand how individual perceptions develop, vary, and can lead to conflict
  • assist learners as they work independently and cooperatively within groups and institutions to accomplish goals
  • enable learners to examine factors that contribute to and damage one’s mental health; and analyze issues related to mental health and behavioral disorders in contemporary society