Lesson Plan

Surviving and Thriving - Lesson 6: Successful “Sogering.”

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Grade Level:
Fifth Grade-Eighth Grade
Colonial History, History, Military and Wartime History, Revolutionary War
Group Size:
Up to 24 (4-8 breakout groups)
National/State Standards:
Pennsylvania State Standards:
8.1: Historical Analysis and Skills Development; 8.3: United States History.
8.1.6. B, 8.3.6. A, 8.1.7. B, 8.3.7. A, 8.1.8. B, 8.3.8. A

Common Core Standards
RH.6-8.2, RH.6-8.7, WHST.6-8.4, WHST.6-8.9


General von Steuben was the man in charge of turning Washington’s Army into a more highly trained fighting force, but how did this all happen? This module focuses on taking students through the basic steps toward becoming a “professional” soldier in 1777. The term “sogering” comes from Private Joseph Plumb Martin’s memoirs when he referred to “soldiering”, or being a soldier.


In the sixth lesson, students will evaluate the new addition to Washington's command, Baron von Steuben, through the use of drawing and evaluation of historic paintings- Students will view a Liberty's Kids episode clip as a follow up to Step 1.

Each student must remember that he/she is also moving through the steps of the module from the perspective of an individual Continental soldier who is ultimately assessing his/her ability to successfully "survive and thrive" while encamped at Valley Forge. 



The "Surviving and Thriving" unit is broken into seven lesson plans. A class needn't complete every lesson in the unit, though some lessons do refer to one another and are better done in sequence. However, each lesson comes with its own set of objectives and resources.

Throughout the unit, students will evaluate and understand the winter encampment site at Valley Forge (1777-78) by taking part in the life of a member of the Continental Army as it marched into Valley Forge, was challenged by multiple elements, and then potentially exited to continue the war for independence against the British. 

We suggest that students be placed in small, heterogeneous groups which can then move as independent entities through the lessons. The students within a group will individually complete the "Survival Rubric" with each learning module to determine, at the completion of the curriculum, how successfully he/she has "survived and thrived" by virtue of their individual "survival score." 

Other lessons in this unit
Lesson 1: The March In
Lesson 2: Washington's Orders
Lesson 3: Breakfast...Lunch...Dinner?
Lesson 4: Keeping the Doctor Away
Lesson 5: The Daily Routine
Lesson 6: Successful "Sogering"
Lesson 7: The March Out 



Step 1: Who was Baron von Steuben…from the soldiers' perspective!
First, students will complete "What do you think this man called von Steuben looks like?"
Second, students will complete "Baron von Steuben: Evaluating Historic Paintings"
Third, students will view the video segment from Liberty's Kids (15:00-17:50) 

Step 2: What did Baron von Steuben really accomplish at Valley Forge? Students will view the ranger/interpreter video clips linked below and construct responses to the questions. Ranger Bill Troppman explains Von Steuben http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEcpnRwVYuc&feature=relmfu Interpreters explaining the drilling exercises of the Continental Army http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBGH2kFimRM&feature=related


Step 1: Students may award themselves up to 5 Survival Points on the Survival Rubric if they successfully complete the exercises in Step 1.

Step 2: 
What do you think was Baron von Steuben's most important quality?

Why was Baron von Steuben's system so unique?

Students may award themselves up to 5 Survival Points on the Survival Rubric if they successfully complete the exercises in Step 2 based on the self-assessed quality of their work.