Who fought in the French and Indian War?

The French & Indian War is a confusing topic for many new secondary students with beginning English language proficiency and limited background knowledge. In this session, use letters written in the 1750s to introduce a group of Native Americans and a British officer named George Washington. These primary sources offer opportunities to analyze whether their writers were with the British or the French as well as to visualize the past as experienced by the people of the time.

Historical Background

Students have learned that competing European powers sent explorers and colonists to different parts of America. By the mid-1700s, seeking wealth in furs, timber and other commodities, both the French and the British claim territory and form alliances with different groups of Native Americans (also called Indians.) The British claim much of the Atlantic seaboard while the French claim vast land between the Appalachians and the Mississippi and beyond. As the 13 English colonies grow, they encroach on French territory. The French and British both build forts to protect their trading interests. From 1756 – 1763 a war among European powers erupts. We call the part fought in America “The French and Indian War.” The war pits the British (and their Indian allies) against the French (and their Indian allies) in a struggle over trading rights and land.

Lesson Objective

Students will identity the writers of text as “with the British” or “with the French” and support their answers with information from the text.

Materials

Procedure

  1. First Primary Source: Native American Letter
  2. Activate prior knowledge: On the promethean board, project a colorful map of British and French settlements in North America c1750; ask students to read the map using the color key; elicit observations about what is the same and different about this map and a map of today; elicit predictions about the type of problems the British, French, and Native Americans might have had.
  3. Explain trade and land factors leading to the French and Indian War in America
  4. Teacher read-aloud of the Native American letter. Set WH questions for active listening: Who wrote the letter? When did they write the letter? Where did they write the letter? Why did they write the letter? What are the feelings of the writer/s?
  5. Read original source aloud. Ask students to tell a neighbor what they understood.
  6. Distribute capture sheet. Read original source aloud again. Ask students to write short answers to the WH questions; then share with a neighbor.
  7. Distribute handout with simplified English text and Spanish language translation of the Native American request letter. Explain new words and phrases. Ask partners to read the handout again and write complete sentences to answer the WH questions together.
  8. Ask partners to decide whether the Native Americans who wrote the letter were friends with the British or with the French. Have pairs write complete sentences using this sentence frame:”The Native Americans fought with the ____. We know this because ____.”
  9. Pairs share their decisions about who the Native Americans fought with and explain how they reached their answers. Have pairs write their sentences with reasons on the Promethean board for group edit; focus on the exact words and phrases in the letter that support the answer.
  10. To acquire vocabulary, ask students to use new words in sentences as time allows. This is an appropriate homework assignment for students who are higher beginning English Language Learners (ELLs.)
  11. Transition to second primary source: George Washington Letter
  12. Activate prior knowledge: Return to the same map of British and French settlements in North America c1750; ask students to locate Pennsylvania and Virginia. Elicit the name of the young British officer from Virginia who is sent to deliver a protest to the French in 1753. When this protest is ignored, the British send soldiers to build a fort in western Pennsylvania.
  13. Explain that the British are driven back by the French who then build Fort Duquesne on the site. In 1755, the British try again. They send many soldiers including George Washington to attack Fort Duquesne. They are again defeated and the British commander, General Braddock, is killed. Washington wrote a letter to his mother about the battle at Fort Duquesne.
  14. Teacher read-aloud of the Washington letter. Set WH questions for active listening: Who wrote the letter? When did he write the letter? Where did he write the letter? Why did he write the letter? What are the feelings of the writer?
  15. Read original source aloud. Ask students to tell a neighbor what they understood.
  16. Distribute capture sheet. Read original source aloud again. Ask students to write short answers to the WH questions; then share with a neighbor.
  17. Distribute handout with simplified English and Spanish language translation of the Washington letter. Explain new words and phrases. Ask partners to read the handout again and write complete sentences to answer the WH questions together.
  18. Ask partners to decide whether George Washington was with the British or the French, using the same sentence frame. (This may seem too simple, but some students say Washington must have been with the French because he fought against the British in the American Revolution. Use this opportunity to illustrate how many colonists “changed sides” and fought during the revolution.)
  19. Pairs share their decisions about who Washington fought with and explain how they reached their answers. Have pairs write their sentences with reasons on the Promethean board for group edit; focus on the exact words and phrases in the letter that support the answer.
  20. To acquire vocabulary, ask students to use new words in sentences as time allows. This is an appropriate homework assignment for students who are higher beginning English Language Learners (ELLs.)
  21. To summarize and review, type correct students’ edited responses for the class to read together

Assessment

Read each sentence and decide if the writer is with the British or the French. Write a brief response giving the reason for your decision. Use the sentence pattern given. Look the example/s carefully.

Examples

1. We were attacked by our enemies, the French.
Target response:
The writer fought with the British. I know this because the writer says his enemy is the French.

2. The British had 1,300 soldiers against our 300.
Target response:
The writer fought with the French. I know this because he says “our 300” against the British.

3. We need our brothers the British to help us.
Target response:
The writer fought with the British. I know this because he says the British are our brothers.

4. When I feel better, I will go home to Virginia.
Target response:
The writer fought with the British. I know this because his home is in Virginia, an English colony.

5. We only had 300 men against their 1,300 troops, but it was easy to beat the British.
Target response:
The writer fought with the French. I know this because he said his men beat the British.

6. We laughed when the British soldiers ran away like sheep.
Target response:
The writer fought with the French. I know this because he thought the British soldiers were weak like sheep.

7. I was ashamed when our British soldiers ran away like sheep.
Target response:
The writer fought with the British. I know this because he said “our British soldiers” and because he feels embarrassed about what they did.

Differentiation

Rewrite the letters in simple English beforehand, or with students as part of the lesson

Provide native language equivalents so students can understand content while acquiring many new English words and phrases

Modify homework assignments and increase time for reviewing homework as needed

Use time in class for students to start homework assignments with a partner

Ask more advanced students to write sentences and an answer key for the language assessment

Ask higher level ELLs questions like these.

  • How many French and Indians attacked George Washington’s group?
  • How many British officers, soldiers, and colonial troops were there?
  • About how many British officers were killed?
  • About how many Virginia troops were killed?
  • What do you think “dastardly behavior” means?
  • Did Washington get shot?
  • How sick was he?
  • When does he think he will see his mother again?
  • In this letter, does Washington praise or criticize the British and American group?
  • What words in the letter tell you that Washington is criticizing his group?
  • References

    Hinton. “A Map of the British and French Settlements in North America.” (c1750) Craven County Digital History Exhibit. From the collection of Tryon Palace Historic Sites & Gardens, New Bern, North Carolina; North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, Division of Archive and History.
    http://newbern.cpclib.org/digital/TP1986055021.html (accessed January 2012).

    “A request from the Twightwee Native Americans to the British government for weapons and supplies in 1752.” BRITISH EMPIRE The Rise and Fall of the British Empire – North America. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/education/empire/g1/cs1/g1cs1s4a.htm (accessed Jan. 2012).

    George Washington to Mary Ball Washington, July 18, 1755.” The George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741-1799, http://memory.loc.gov/mss/mgw/mgw2/001/0850077.jpg

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