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Midnight Ride of Paul Revere: Fact, Fiction, and Artistic License

Students assess a famous artistic depiction of Paul Revere's ride, based on historical documents.

Grant Wood, Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, 1931

This lesson asks students to use primary source evidence to assess Grant Wood’s famous 1931 painting, The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere. Students must also determine the event's historical significance. This lesson offers a wealth of resources for analyzing artwork as historical evidence and provides a nice example for using artwork along with written documents to learn about the past.

The lesson opens up by asking students to note their initial impressions of Wood's painting. Additional resources are included to help students analyze the painting.

Following the opening activity, students read a series of primary accounts of the event from the British perspective and the colonial perspective. Teachers should consider the lesson plan’s suggestion to jigsaw this activity since the documents range in length and difficulty.

The lesson concludes with multiple assessment options including analyzing the poem "Paul Revere's Ride" by Henry Wordsworth Longfellow, using evidence to distinguish between fact and fiction, and writing a short story. Teachers could also easily create a document-based question assignment to assess students' historical understanding.


Additional features include

Teachinghistory.org Lesson Plan Rubric
Field Criteria Comments
Historical Content Is historically accurate?


Includes historical background?

A wealth of background information is included about Revere's ride as well as relevant poetry and artwork.

Requires students to read and write?

Students are asked to read primary and secondary sources and write from the perspective of the historical actors.

Analytic Thinking Requires students to analyze or construct interpretations using evidence

Students analyze artistic interpretations of the past and construct historical interpretations of the past.

Requires close reading and attention to source information?

Students are asked to consider the author’s perspective as they read and analyze primary sources.

Scaffolding Is appropriate for stated audience?


Includes materials and strategies for scaffolding and supporting student thinking?

Includes guiding questions that scaffold thinking. However primary documents may need further editing and preparation depending on students' reading levels.

Lesson Structure Includes assessment criteria and strategies that focus on historical understanding?

Multiple assessment options

Defines clear learning goals and progresses logically?


Includes clear directions and is realistic in normal classroom settings?


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