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In the Classroom > Unit Overview
Lessons: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15

The Second Turn, 1780-1820
Lesson 12: Schools and Schoolbooks, 1780-1820

Unit Central Questions: In This Lesson:

What do primary and secondary sources teach us about the characteristics of "everyday life" of individuals living in Deerfield at the four turns of the centuries?

What do these characteristics reveal about changes in the town since its beginning as an English settlement?

Lesson Length
Key Ideas
Activity 1
Homework Assignment
Activity 2

Lesson Length

Activity 1 - 60-minute period plus homework time

Activity 2 - depends on how the teacher uses the material.

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Key Content Ideas Taught in this Lesson and Teacher Background

In the period 1780-1820, Deerfield residents had increased access to education and books. By the end of the period, people believed that good citizens and moral individuals could be created through education. At the previous "turn," people had learned to read in order to read the Bible. In this "turn," stories in schoolbooks began to evolve from religious tales that were Bible-centered, to moral tales aimed at creating an educated and moral citizenry. The devil, once portrayed as the evil tempter, is transformed into a symbol of ignorance with its negative outcomes. The angel, formerly a representative of religious goodness, also becomes a symbol of knowledge. Books began to teach about the wider world as well.

For more information, read:
Teacher Background Essay: Schools and Schoolbooks - 1780-1820

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Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will understand:

1. That during this turn of the century, primary schooling in Deerfield, Massachusetts which had been available to a limited extent since 1698, expanded to include six school districts by 1787. In that year as well, fifteen Deerfield residents met to plan what became Deerfield Academy.
2. How schoolbooks changed from the first turn to the second. They will also understand what these changes reveal about alterations in attitudes about the purpose of education.

Students will be able to:

1. Read and understand information from a secondary source.
2. Take notes from secondary sources.
3. Write summaries from notes.
4. Read and analyze primary source material such as schoolbooks.

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In Preparation for Teaching

1. Make copies of Ornamental and Useful Accomplishments, pages from schoolbooks, and Schoolbook Worksheet.

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Primary and Secondary Sources:

1. Flynt, Suzanne L., Ornamental and Useful Accomplishments: Schoolgirl Education and Deerfield Academy, 1800-1830, Deerfield, Massachusetts: Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association and Deerfield Academy, 1988, pp. 7-14.
2. Packet of pages from schoolbooks:


Note to teacher: The packet of pages from schoolbooks includes examples that correspond to the schoolbook worksheet (pages one through nine). It also includes extra schoolbook pages that the teacher may use at his or her discretion (pages ten through twenty-three).


1. Schoolbook Worksheet

2. Student notebooks

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Activities Materials in Context

Activity 1
A. Deerfield, Massachusetts Schools

1. Distribute copies of pages 7-13 from Ornamental and Useful Accomplishments: Schoolgirl Education and Deerfield Academy, 1800-1830.
2. Instruct students to look through the pages and to comment on pictures, captions, and anything else that catches their eyes.
3. Read the quote and first paragraph of page 7. Point out that the book from which the pages are taken is about the education of girls in Deerfield, and that is why these paragraphs are concerned with young ladies. The rest of the sources we will be using discuss schooling for both boys and girls.
4. Instruct students to read Paragraph 2 beginning "Deerfield has long..." underlining factual information about the history of education in the town. Take notes from this in student notebooks.
5. Discuss the notes taken, clarifying misconceptions or vocabulary.
6. Instruct students to add to their notes any new ideas that come up in discussion.
7. Instruct students to read the last paragraph that starts on page 8 and ends on page 9 and examine the samplers on pages 8 and 10, noting that they illustrate the information in the paragraph.
8. Instruct students to read the paragraph beginning "If eighteenth-century..." underlining the information about how older Deerfield, Massachusetts' children were taught during most of the eighteenth century. Take notes from this in student notebooks, and repeat steps 5 and 6 above.
9. Instruct students to read the first two paragraphs on page 11, underlining the information about the beginnings of Deerfield Academy. Take notes from this in student notebooks, and repeat steps 5 and 6 above.
10. Read from the last paragraph on page 11 to the end of page 13 together (either reading to the students, or having volunteers read.)
11. Instruct students to go back and underline information about Deerfield Academy that they think is interesting.
12. Instruct students to list 3 things they found interesting about education in this period in their notebooks.

Homework Assignment for Activity 1

Using notes taken, write a paper entitled "Education in Deerfield, Massachusetts from 1780-1820."

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Ornamental and Useful Accomplishments



social studies notebooks

Activity 2
B. Gathering Evidence from Schoolbooks

1. Distribute individual packets of schoolbook pages.
2. Instruct students to look through the packet.
3. Distribute Schoolbook Worksheet.
4. Lead a discussion about the schoolbook pages, using the questions on the worksheet as a guide.
5. Instruct students to complete the worksheet.
6. Upon completion of the worksheets, instruct students to make a list of 10 facts that show how Deerfield, Massachusetts citizens' opinions about what children needed to learn changed over the years. This may be done in class, in work periods, or as homework.



Packet of pages from schoolbooks:

Schoolbook Worksheet

student notebooks


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Use homework assignment for Activity 1, Worksheet pages, and number 5 from Activity 2 to assess the degree to which students have achieved the intended learning outcomes.


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