Houghton Mifflin Social Studies
America Will Be

Benjamin Franklin — A Man of Many Talents

Objective: Students research and identify the many talents of Benjamin Franklin, as well as his role in the formation of an independent United States.

What You Need:

Suggested Time:
4-5 hours over 2-3 days

Building Background:
Ask students what they know about Benjamin Franklin. Record their responses on the board. Guide the discussion to point out that Franklin was a man of many accomplishments -- a printer, a writer, a philosopher, a scientist, an inventor, a musician, a statesman, and an economist. Tell students they will be learning more about the life and accomplishments of Benjamin Franklin.

What To Do:

1. Divide students into seven groups. Assign each group one area of Franklin's life to research: printing, science and technology, philosophy, music, writing, economics, or politics. Distribute the Benjamin Franklin worksheet to help them record the findings of their research.

2.Have groups use the school or local library to find biographies or encyclopedia entries on Franklin. One possible biography is The Many Lives of Benjamin Franklin by Mary Pope Osbourne. Students can also use the Internet to help them research their topics.

3. Students should keep detailed notes from the different sources they use to research their topics. After students have completed their worksheets, explain that they will be using the information they gathered for an oral presentation. Tell students that they will be giving the presentation in the first person, with each group member taking a turn being Franklin and giving a two or three sentence statement about "himself" as a printer, inventor, statesman, etc.

4. After a group has completed its presentation, ask the rest of the students to interview each "Franklin" as though they are writing a magazine article about Benjamin Franklin's life and accomplishments. Remind students to ask questions appropriate for the specific aspect/interest of the Franklin being interviewed: science questions for the scientist Franklin, invention questions for the inventor Franklin, etc.

5. When the interviews are complete, have each group write a brief magazine article on Benjamin Franklin, using the information they received from the different "Franklins." Have volunteers from each group read the articles to the class.

Discuss with students the impressions they have about Benjamin Franklin. Ask volunteers to tell what they think was Franklin's most important accomplishment and explain why.


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