Thursday, October 6, 2016

Teacher Gazette: Yorktown Anniversary Resources

What's new for October from The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
The siege of Yorktown in October 1781 was a decisive American-French victory and the last major battle of the Revolutionary War. Americans and their French allies fought against British, American loyalist, and German auxiliary troops. Though the war was not officially over for two more years, the stunning victory at Yorktown proved to the world that the United States was capable of winning the Revolutionary War.

Learn more about the Siege of Yorktown
  • Read an article by historian Dan Lovelace.
  • View a zoomable version of illustrations for Yorktown's centennial celebration in "Harper's Weekly" and "Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper," Oct. 22, 1881.
  • Learn more about the Yorktown Campaign.
  • Listen to a podcast about the archaeology of Cornwallis' sunken fleet.
  • Explore links to resources from the Library of Congress and National Archives.

Access these great resources about the Siege of Yorktown by signing into your account on the Colonial Williamsburg Education Resource Library!
Create a free account here.

Videos, teacher guide, and web activities

Explore the story of the key turning point in the Revolutionary War. Follow the people who converged on the village of York in October 1781: the military leaders, common soldiers, and civilians whose lives were changed forever by the siege. 
Teacher Gazette
Lesson Plan

John Adams supposedly said that "without (Thomas) Paine's pen Washington's sword would have been raised in vain." But George Washington not only possessed military and leadership skills, he also wrote very well. In this lesson, students will read two letters written by George Washington, examine the writing style and word choices used in each letter, and summarize the basic content.
Primary Source Analysis

This miniature watercolor was painted in 1785 by Louis-Nicholas van Blarenberghe, a professional painter of battle and campaign scenes for the French army. It is a meticulous rendering of the 1781 British surrender of Yorktown. Despite its very small size-measuring only 3 1/8 inches in diameter-this miniature is incredibly detailed, illustrating over 300 individual figures. The scene closely mirrors the written descriptions of the surrender.
Teaching Tips: How to Use these Resources
  • The entire Yorktown video is about 28 minutes long. If you are short on time, the video is divided into three Acts of about 9 minutes each. Use the short description of each Act as a guide and preview each Act to determine which best demonstrates the concepts you would like to teach.
  • Both the Surrender at Yorktown lesson plan and the Yorktown Literacy Resources are great for developing your students' reading and writing skills! Both lessons require students to carefully read primary source documents about the Siege of Yorktown, use a glossary to define difficult vocabulary, and then use what they read in a discussion and writing assignment.
  • Compare the Surrender at Yorktown primary source image to accounts of the surrender. Have students match details in the painting to details from either primary or secondary source accounts of the surrender.


The National Student/Parent Mock Election gives American students, and parents too if they wish, the opportunity to cast their votes for candidates in both the federal and state elections, as well as on the issues they care about. Practice voting begins October 17 and official voting begins October 24. Participants can use any internet-connected devices to vote. Learn more, download teacher guides, and register your class at
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