Grade level:


Approximate Lesson Duration:

Unit/Lesson New Jersey Student Learning Standards (NJSLS):

6.1.8.A.2.b Explain how and why early government structures developed, and determine the impact of these early structures on the evolution of American politics and institutions.

6.1.8.A.2.c : Explain how demographics (i.e., race, gender, and economic status) affected social, economic, and political opportunities during the Colonial era.

6.1.8.A.1.a  Compare and contrast forms of governance, belief systems, and family structures among African, European, and Native American groups.

Brief Summary of Cultural Competencies Related to the Unit/Lesson:

What makes this lesson culturally relevant?

Understanding the roles patriarchy, gender, and expressions of masculinity played in colonial America is important because of the direct connections between how and why early government structures developed as they did, and the effects on individuals based on their gender and identity. This lesson uses primary and secondary texts to examine gender in colonial America and how prevailing understandings from the period created cultures and laws that have affected individuals for centuries up to the present.

Lesson Overview:

Essential Question(s)
  • How do citizens, civic ideals, and government institutions interact to balance the needs of individuals and the common good?
  • How have economic, political, and cultural decisions promoted or prevented the growth of personal freedom, individual responsibility, equality, and respect for human dignity?
  • How might the beliefs/actions of a larger group influence how an individual sees themselves? Expresses their “identity”?
Enduring Understanding(s)

The obstacles individuals face today based upon their race, religion, gender or sexual identity are a result of long-standing structures created over many centuries by individuals and like-minded groups.

Potential Misconceptions

Power, Opportunity, Access, and Representation are equally shared by all within society.

Individuals or groups hoarding power, opportunity, access, and representation for their personal benefit will willingly and faithfully cede access for greater equality and equity across groups.

Power, opportunity, access, and representation is always shared equally within groups that combine multiple groups.  ( i.e., does a Black man in 17th century Virginia have the same access to power to create gender-based laws that a wealthy White man does? Does a White man who does not own land in 17th-century Virginia have the same access as a wealthy property-owning White man?)

Learning plan, experiences, intstruction and learning activities:

What is Expected?
  • List the intentional learning objectives on the board.

Students will be able to:


  • Define Patriarchy in basic terms
  • Analyze primary and secondary sources related to the Colonial American period.
  • Identify the dominant social structure(s) within various colonial-settler communities based upon analysis of social practices, government institutions, etc.
  • Analyze specific events from the colonial period, discussing how each event promoted or prevented the growth of personal freedom, individual responsibility, equality, and respect for human dignity.



What is expected?
How will we hook (Introduce this to) the students?
  • Activate thinking
  • Consider the language you will use to introduce the lesson (See example in the table)

Link to Engagement

Recently, we…

Began learning about the social and political structures of some of the settler-colonial communities from the British American Colonies. Today we will be examining one of the social structures present to see how it influenced every aspect of colonial life. We’ll also begin to uncover how it still influences much of our lives today. 

Turn and talk to a partner about…


  • How one’s gender can determine what society considers is “appropriate” for a person to do/wear/aspire to?
  • Can how one presents their identity(s) to society affect access to opportunities based upon how accepting society is toward that identity(s)?



You are really beginning to understand how many of our society’s social, political, and economic institutions have perpetuated unequal opportunities, access, and representation based upon gender and gender identity.  Today, we’re going to dig deeper with a new focus on a social structure known as Patriarchy.  For the purposes of today’s lesson, Patriarchy can be defined as a social structural phenomenon in which males have the privilege of dominance over females.”  

This is a very basic definition of patriarchy, and we’ll be digging deeper to develop a better understanding and contextualization of this social structure.

What equipment, resources, or materials are needed?

Materials for this lesson include …(materials listed below will be provided)

  • Primary and secondary sources related to the definition of Patriarchy
  • Excerpts from Gender Roles in Colonial America
  • Excerpt from Gender Roles in 17th Century America
  • The case of Thomasine Hall from 1629 Court Case in Virginia*
    • As the original case is in 17th century colonial English, Translation would likely need to be done. The case is well known and has been discussed in numerous texts and historical media. A transcript of the original court minutes will be provided, as well as a segment transcript from the Backstory podcast episode Outed: Sexual Identity in America
  • Documents related to “The Lord Cornbury Scandal:”
    • New York Times Book Review of THE LORD CORNBURY SCANDAL The Politics of Reputation in British America.
    • Image of portrait “Unidentified Woman Traditionally Assumed to be Lord Cornbury. “ 
    • Audio clip and transcript from New York Historical Society, accompanies “Unidentified Woman Traditionally Assumed to be Lord Cornbury. “ 
  • Stanford History Education Group (SHEG) Historical Thinking Chart
How will we rethink or revise our thinking throughout the lesson?
  • What learning is confirmed?
  • What misconceptions are uncovered?
  • What is your new thinking?
  •  As students are analyzing the related texts, discussing and evaluating their and their classmates’ reflections, questions from the graphic organizer teacher, and guiding questions should help the class frame questions such as 
    • “Who benefits from “X” event or outcome? 
    • “What societal concepts are promoted or prevented by the event or outcome?” 
    • Conversations about hierarchy, preservation of social order, and power can all be transitioned into for more extensive conversations utilizing related texts
  • Misconceptions that will most likely be uncovered:
    • Power, Opportunity, Access, and Representation are equally shared by all within society 
    • Reasoning with factual evidence is enough to always convince individuals or groups that long-held beliefs or understandings should be set aside for the benefit of individuals or groups outside of their own.
    • Individuals or groups do not knowingly create systems of privilege and advantage for themselves, at the expense of others considered outside of the dominant group.
    • Power, opportunity, access, and representation is always shared equally within groups that combine multiple groups. (i.e., Men or women across racial, religious groups, etc.)
  • New thinking that considers how laws, social mores, beliefs, and actions can have different intents, and outcomes-based upon what individual or group is the actor and what individual or group is the focus of the action(s) will develop. 
  • Use of contextualization and empathy, increased rigor, intellectual honesty, and reflection when considering past, present, and future action are hopeful eventual individual outcomes.
How will students self-evaluate and reflect on their learning?

 Students will utilize guided questions, graphic organizer throughout the lesson.

How will we tailor learning to varied needs, interests, and learning styles?
  • Questions/resources can be modified to meet the needs of the individual student.  
  • Readings / Photographs can be added (or removed) to ensure that all students comprehend 
  • Lexile levels can be adjusted of the reading can be modified to aid struggling learners.
How will we organize the sequence of learning during the lesson?

Scaffold the Instruction

  1. Model

The teacher will analyze and summarize the Patriarchy primary/secondary source document and lead a short discussion to ensure comprehension of the concept of Patriarchy. This will ensure a more comprehensive evaluation and discussion of materials later in the lesson.

  1. Guided Practice

The guided questions will assist students in developing an understanding of how the system of patriarchy interacts with, influences, and controls other daily aspects of societal life.

  • Use Gender Roles in Colonial America, Patriarchy definitions handout, and/or Gender Roles in 17th Century America as needed to establish understanding and context of structures in place that affected social, economic, and political opportunities during the Colonial era.
  • Use The case of Thomasine Hall from 1629 Court Case in Virginia* to establish an understanding of gender norms of appearance, identity, and behavior as social constructs utilized to enforce social hierarchy and order. 
  • Documents related to “The Lord Cornbury Scandal” can be used in a number of ways. Gender identity can be discussed as a spectrum as opposed to a binary, with an infinite number of possible presentations within the world.
    • Patriarchy’s binary gender structure and social hierarchy requirements create obstacles to the expression of individual and like-minded group identity. 
    • Discussion of concepts of masculine, feminine ability and appearance ideals as established by the structure of patriarchy may include discussion of what happens to someone when they do not identify within the patriarchal gender binary structure, as well as the use of gender non-conforming behavior or appearance as a social punishment to maintain existing social hierarchy and control access to power, opportunity, and representation.
    • Connection to events such as The Lavender Scare, Immigration act of 1918, and many other events in contemporary American history is possible as extension activities. 
  1. Independent Practice

Student analyses of the provided materials, which will also be recorded in the provided organizer.

Optional development of a larger constructed response based upon guided practice questions and graphic organizer.

Check for understanding:

(Formative evidence such as conferencing, group Q/A, teacher observation, exit-slip, etc.)
  • Teachers should monitor written and verbal responses for understanding and frequently check in on the progress of the students to see that they are completing the task at hand. 
  • Ongoing brief Q/A check-ins throughout the lesson
  • Student responses to Guiding Questions
  • Student Responses to Graphic Organizer
Quiz/Test (optional):
(attach copy of assessment)

Performance Task/Project:
(attach rubric)


There are many options for a summative performance task. A potential task includes having students craft a constructed response utilizing three or four related documents to substantiate claim(s) of their responses.

Resources for this lesson:

Download Lesson Plan PDF: