The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

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Need a model for character education? Benjamin Franklin presents himself as in a constant state of striving to become the man he hoped to be, making his autobiography is far more accessible to learners than those of people who consider themselves more successful. Young historians apply the major themes of The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin to an analytical essay that serves as an introduction to the book.

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CCSS: Adaptable
Instructional Ideas
  • Extend the activity by inviting pupils to nominate other figures who they believe contributed to American character and culture and explain their nominee’s contribution
  • Use the lesson in connection with teaching about autobiographies, the development of American culture and character, or Franklin
Classroom Considerations
  • Activity is better for advanced readers; use selections, such as the section on Franklin’s attempt to master the virtues, for classes whose readers are less accomplished, and scale the writing assignment to match 
  • This resource is only available on an unencrypted HTTP website. It should be fine for general use, but don’t use it to share any personally identifiable information
  • Provides an opportunity for students to see the lasting influence of a Founding Father beyond the country’s early history and foundational documents
  • Activity offers an opportunity for in-depth non-fiction literary analysis
  • Resource supports Franklin’s self-description with a detailed timeline
  • Many of the links to resources, including the link to Franklin’s autobiography, do not work, but the material can be found elsewhere