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To Join or Not to Join?

Name of Corresponding Unit Plan: War of 1812

Grade Level: 6-12

Common Core Standards
RH/SS.1. Cite specific textural evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.

Content Areas: Reading, Speaking, History

Recommended Length/Duration: 30 minutes

Learning Goals: Students will analyze and interpret primary source text. Students will use content of primary source material to formulate convincing arguments in support of a position. Students will respond to oral questions in a thoughtful and composed manner.


  1. This activity should follow a reading and analysis of the Royal Marines recruiting poster (see also the lesson plan A Few Good Men). Have students review the poster so that they are familiar with the reasons someone might want to join the Royal Marines.
  2. Ask for a volunteer to play the role of a young man wanting to join the marines. The rest of the class will play his parents. His task will be to convince his parents that this is a good idea. He should open the dialogue by explaining his plan to join the marines.
  3. The class will take turns playing the young man’s parents. They should react with questions or statements expressing the feelings a parent might have if their son were about to leave home for many years and possibly encounter danger. The teacher can decide if students can monitor their own turn-taking, or if this should be structured. Very large classes may want to have half the class at a time have active roles while the other half observes.
  4. The improvisational dialogue should remain in character and draw on the specific facts given in the recruiting poster, general knowledge about the time period, and personal experience with family dynamics.
  5. The teacher needs to monitor the dialogue to be sure it remains focused and on task. A judgment will have to be made when the dialogue is over. It may be when the young man has convinced his parents or when one or the other refuses to listen further. When the dialogue has run its course, tell the class to “Freeze” and return to themselves.
  6. Discuss how the improvised dialogue went. Guiding questions might include:
    • Did the young man convince his parents?
    • What were the strongest arguments?
    • What emotions were revealed in the dialogue?
    • What new information emerged?
    • Were the arguments and relationships realistic?
  7. The activity can be repeated with another student taking the role of the young man, or by reversing the question; why he shouldn’t join the marines.

Assessments: Informal assessment based on participation.

Materials/Resources: Royal Marines recruiting Poster (fascimile)

Special Considerations: Students not used to improvisation or speaking in front of others may need more direct preparation.

Extensions: Student may want to change the roles: friend, wife, girlfriend, child, etc.