Washington’s Farewell Address

by Tim Bailey
View a copy of Washington's Farewell Address in the
Gilder Lehrman Collection by clicking here.
For a resource regarding the possibility of Washington
staying on for a third term click here.
For additional resources click here.

Unit Objective

Washington’s Farewell Address, Hartford, CT, [1800]. (GLC02557)

This unit is part of Gilder Lehrman’s series of Common Core State Standards–based teaching resources. These units were written to enable students to understand, summarize, and analyze original texts of historical significance. Students will demonstrate this knowledge by writing summaries of selections from the original document and, by the end of the unit, articulating their understanding of the complete document by answering questions in an argumentative writing style to fulfill the Common Core State Standards. Through this step-by-step process, students will acquire the skills to analyze any primary or secondary source material.

While the unit is intended to flow over a five-day period, it is possible to present and complete the material within a shorter time frame. For example, the first two days can be used to ensure an understanding of the process with all of the activity completed in class. The teacher can then assign lessons three and four as homework. The argumentative essay is then written in class on day three.

Lesson 1

Objective

Students will be asked to “read like a detective” and gain a clear understanding of George Washington’s Farewell Address. Through reading and analyzing the original text, the students will know what is explicitly stated, draw logical inferences, and demonstrate these skills by writing a succinct summary and then restating that summary in the student’s own words. In the first lesson this will be facilitated by the teacher and done as a whole-class lesson.

Introduction

Tell the students that they will be learning what George Washington wrote at the end of his second term as president in 1796 by reading and understanding Washington’s own words. Resist the temptation to put the Farewell Address into too much context. Remember, we are trying to let the students discover what Washington had to say and then develop ideas based solely on his words.

Materials

Procedure

  1. All students are given an abridged copy of Washington’s Farewell Address and are asked to read it silently to themselves.
  2. The teacher then “share reads” the text with the students. This is done by having the students follow along silently while the teacher begins reading aloud. The teacher models prosody, inflection, and punctuation. The teacher then asks the class to join in with the reading after a few sentences while the teacher continues to read along with the students, still serving as the model for the class. This technique will support struggling readers as well as English Language Learners (ELL).
  3. The teacher explains that the students will be analyzing the first part of the text today and that they will be learning how to do in-depth analysis for themselves. All students are given a copy of Summary Organizer #1. This contains the first selection from the Farewell Address.
  4. The teacher puts a copy of Summary Organizer #1 on display in a format large enough for all of the class to see (an overhead projector, Elmo projector, or similar device). Explain that today the whole class will be going through this process together.
  5. Explain that the objective is to select “Key Words” from the first section and then use those words to create a summary sentence that demonstrates an understanding of what Washington was saying in the first selection.
  6. Guidelines for selecting the Key Words: Key Words are very important contributors to understanding the text. Without them the selection would not make sense. These words are usually nouns or verbs. Don’t pick “connector” words (are, is, the, and, so, etc.). The number of Key Words depends on the length of the original selection. This selection is 175 words so we can pick nine or ten Key Words. The other Key Words rule is that we cannot pick words if we don’t know what they mean.
  7. Students will now select nine or ten words from the text that they believe are Key Words and write them in the box to the right of the text on their organizers.
  8. The teacher surveys the class to find out what the most popular choices were. The teacher can either tally this or just survey by a show of hands. Using this vote and some discussion the class should, with guidance from the teacher, decide on nine or ten Key Words. For example, let’s say that the class decides on the following words: election, executive, government, decline, danger, recommend, much reflection (yes, technically these are two words, but you can allow such things if it makes sense to do so; just don’t let whole phrases get by), observation, all-important, and permanency. Now, no matter which words the students had previously selected, have them write the words agreed upon by the class or chosen by you into the Key Words box in their organizers.
  9. The teacher now explains that, using these Key Words, the class will write a sentence that restates or summarizes what Washington said in this first selection. This should be a whole-class discussion-and-negotiation process. For example, “In the upcoming election for the executive branch of the government I will decline to run, but I see danger ahead and would like to recommend to you some thoughts after much reflection and observation.” You might find that the class decides they don’t need the some of the words to make it even more streamlined. This is part of the negotiation process. The final negotiated sentence is copied into the organizers in the third section under the original text and Key Words sections.
  10. The teacher explains that students will now be putting their summary sentence into their own words, not having to use Washington’s words. Again, this is a class discussion-and-negotiation process. For example, “I will not be running for reelection as president, but I would like to give you some advice.”
  11. Wrap up: Discuss vocabulary that the students found confusing or difficult. If you choose, you could have students use the back of their organizers to make a note of these words and their meanings.

Lesson 2

Objective

Students will be asked to “read like a detective” and gain a clear understanding of what George Washington was writing about in his Farewell Address. Through reading and analyzing the original text, the students will know what is explicitly stated, draw logical inferences, and demonstrate these skills by writing a succinct summary and then restating that summary in the student’s own words. In the second lesson the students will work with partners and in small groups.

Introduction

Tell the students that they will be further exploring what George Washington was saying in the second selection from his Farewell Address by reading and understanding Washington’s text and then being able to tell, in their own words, what he said. Today they will be working with partners and in small groups.

Materials

Procedure

  1. All students are given the abridged copy of Washington’s Farewell Address and are asked to read it silently to themselves.
  2. The students and teacher discuss what they did yesterday and what they decided was the meaning of the first selection.
  3. The teacher then “share reads” the second selection with the students. This is done by having the students follow along silently while the teacher begins reading aloud. The teacher models prosody, inflection, and punctuation. The teacher then asks the class to join in with the reading after a couple of sentences while the teacher continues to read along with the students, still serving as the model for the class. This technique will support struggling readers as well as English Language Learners (ELL).
  4. The teacher explains that the class will be analyzing the second selection from Washington’s Farewell Address today. All students are given a copy of Summary Organizer #2. This contains the second selection from the Farewell Address.
  5. The teacher puts a copy of Summary Organizer #2 on display in a format large enough for all of the class to see (an overhead projector, Elmo projector, or similar device). Explain that today they will be going through the same process as yesterday but with partners and in small groups.
  6. Explain that the objective is still to select “Key Words” from the second selection and then use those words to create a summary sentence that demonstrates an understanding of what Washington was saying in that selection.
  7. Guidelines for selecting the Key Words: The guidelines for selecting Key Words are the same as they were yesterday. However, because this paragraph is longer (228 words) than the last one, they can pick only ten Key Words.
  8. Pair the students up and have them negotiate which Key Words to select. After they have decided on their words both students will write them in the Key Words box of their organizers.
  9. The teacher now puts two pairs together. These two pairs go through the same negotiation-and-discussion process to come up with their Key Words. Be strategic in how you make your groups to ensure the most participation by all group members.
  10. The teacher now explains that by using these Key Words the group will build a sentence that restates or summarizes what George Washington was saying. This is done by the group negotiating with its members on how best to build that sentence. Try to make sure that everyone is contributing to the process. It is very easy for one student to take control of the entire process and for the other students to let them do so. All of the students should write their negotiated sentence into their organizers.
  11. The teacher now asks for the groups to share out the summary sentences they have created. This should start a teacher-led discussion that points out the qualities of the various attempts. How successful were the groups at understanding the Farewell Address and were they careful to only use Washington’s Key Words in doing so?
  12. The teacher explains that the group will now be putting their summary sentence into their own words, not having to use Washington’s words. Again, this is a group discussion-and-negotiation process. After they have decided on a sentence it should be written into their organizers. Again, the teacher should have the groups share out and discuss the clarity and quality of the groups’ attempts.
  13. Wrap up: Discuss vocabulary that the students found confusing or difficult. If you choose, you could have students use the back of their organizers to make a note of these words and their meanings.

Lesson 3

Objective

Students will be asked to “read like a detective” and gain a clear understanding of the meaning of Washington’s Farewell Address. Through reading and analyzing the original text, the students will know what is explicitly stated, draw logical inferences, and demonstrate these skills by writing a succinct summary and then restating that summary in the student’s own words. In this lesson the students will be working individually unless you think that the students need another day of additional support from a partner or small group.

Introduction

Tell the students that they will be further exploring what George Washington was saying in the third selection from his Farewell Address by reading and understanding Washington’s words and then being able to tell, in their own words, what he said. Today they will be working by themselves on their summaries unless you have decided otherwise.

Materials

Procedure

  1. All students are given the abridged copy of George Washington’s Farewell Address and are asked to read it silently to themselves.
  2. The students and teacher discuss what they did yesterday and what they decided was the meaning of the first two selections.
  3. The teacher then “share reads” the third selection with the students. This is done by having the students follow along silently while the teacher begins reading aloud. The teacher models prosody, inflection, and punctuation. The teacher then asks the class to join in with the reading after a couple of sentences while the teacher continues to read along with the students, still serving as the model for the class. This technique will support struggling readers as well as English Language Learners (ELL).
  4. The teacher explains that the class will be analyzing the third selection from Washington’s Farewell Address today. All students are given a copy of Summary Organizer #3. This contains the third selection from the Address.
  5. The teacher puts a copy of Summary Organizer #3 on display in a format large enough for all of the class to see (an overhead projector, Elmo projector, or similar device). Explain that today they will be going through the same process as yesterday, but they will be working by themselves.
  6. Explain that the objective is still to select “Key Words” from the third paragraph and then use those words to create a summary sentence that demonstrates an understanding of whatWashington was saying in that selection.
  7. Guidelines for selecting the Key Words: The guidelines for selecting Key Words are the same as they were yesterday. Because this paragraph is as long as the previous selection (229 words), they can pick up to ten Key Words.
  8. Have the students decide which Key Words to select. After they have chosen their words they will write them in the Key Words box of their organizers.
  9. The teacher explains that, using these Key Words, each student will build a sentence that restates or summarizes what Washington was saying. They should write their summary sentences into their organizers.
  10. The teacher explains that they will be putting their summary sentence into their own words, not having to use Washington’s words. This should be added to their organizers.
  11. The teacher asks for students to share out the summary sentences they have created. This should start a teacher-led discussion that points out the qualities of the various attempts. How successful were the students at understanding what Washington was writing about?
  12. Wrap up: Discuss vocabulary that the students found confusing or difficult. If you choose, you could have students use the back of their organizers to make a note of these words and their meanings.

Lesson 4

Objective

Students will be asked to “read like a detective” and gain a clear understanding of George Washington’s Farewell Address. Through reading and analyzing the original text, the students will know what is explicitly stated, draw logical inferences, and demonstrate these skills by writing a succinct summary and then restating that summary in the student’s own words. In this lesson the students will be working individually.

Introduction

Tell the students that they will be further exploring what George Washington was saying in the third selection from the Farewell Address by reading and understanding Washington’s words and then being able to tell, in their own words, what he said. Today they will be working by themselves on their summaries.

Materials

Procedure

  1. All students are given the abridged copy of Washington’s Farewell Address and are asked to read it silently to themselves.
  2. The students and teacher discuss what they did yesterday and what they decided was the meaning of the first three selections.
  3. The teacher then “share reads” the fourth selection with the students. This is done by having the students follow along silently while the teacher begins reading aloud. The teacher models prosody, inflection, and punctuation. The teacher then asks the class to join in with the reading after a couple of sentences while the teacher continues to read along with the students, still serving as the model for the class. This technique will support struggling readers as well as English Language Learners (ELL).
  4. The teacher explains that the class will be analyzing the fourth selection from Washington’s Farewell Address today. All students are given a copy of Summary Organizer #4. This contains the fourth selection from the Address.
  5. The teacher puts a copy of Summary Organizer #4 on display in a format large enough for all of the class to see (an overhead projector, Elmo projector, or similar device). Explain that today they will be going through the same process as yesterday, but they will be working by themselves.
  6. Explain that the objective is still to select “Key Words” from the fourth paragraph and then use those words to create a summary sentence that demonstrates an understanding of what Washington was saying in that selection.
  7. Guidelines for selecting the Key Words: The guidelines for selecting Key Words are the same as they were yesterday. Because this paragraph is the same length as the previous two selections (224 words), they can select up to ten Key Words.
  8. Have the students decide which Key Words to select. After they have chosen their words they will write them in the Key Words box of their organizers.
  9. The teacher explains that, using these Key Words, each student will build a sentence that restates or summarizes what Washington was saying. They should write their summary sentences into their organizers.
  10. The teacher explains that now they will be putting their summary sentence into their own words, not having to use Washington’s words. This should be added to their organizers.
  11. The teacher asks for students to share out the summary sentences they have created. This should start a teacher-led discussion that points out the qualities of the various attempts. How successful were the students at understanding what Washington was writing about?
  12. Wrap up: Discuss vocabulary that the students found confusing or difficult. If you choose, you could have students use the back of their organizers to make a note of these words and their meanings.

Lesson 5

Objective

This lesson has two objectives. First, the students will synthesize the work of the last four days and demonstrate that they understand what Washington was saying in his Farewell Address. Second, the teacher will ask questions of the students that require them to make inferences from the text and also require them to support their conclusions in a short essay with explicit information from the text.

Introduction

Tell the students that they will be reviewing what George Washington was saying in his Farewell Address. Second, you will be asking them to write a short argumentative essay about the Address; explain that their conclusions must be backed up by evidence taken directly from the text.

Materials

Procedure

  1. All students are given the abridged copy of Washington’s Farewell Address and then are asked to read it silently to themselves.
  2. The teacher asks the students for their best personal summary of selection one. This is done as a negotiation or discussion. The teacher may write this short sentence on the overhead or similar device. The same procedure is used for selections two, three, and four. When they are finished the class should have a summary, either written or oral, of the Farewell Address in only a few sentences. This should give the students a way to state what the general purpose or purposes of the document were.
  3. The teacher can have the students write a short essay now addressing one of the following prompts or do a short lesson on constructing an argumentative essay. If the latter is the case, save the essay writing until the next class period or assign it for homework. Remind the students that any arguments they make must be backed up with words taken directly from Washington’s Farewell Address. The first prompt is designed to be the easiest.

Prompts

  1. What does President Washington see as dangers to the success of a newly formed United States of America?
  2. What arguments does Washington use to support his statement that the government is the “main pillar” of independence? Why does he see this as so important and how can it be protected?
  3. Washington writes that in foreign policy “Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course.” What course of action is he arguing that the nation should take?

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