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created by Jon Mueller

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Enlightenment in the Colonies:
Newspaper Editorial




Students will demonstrate an understanding of the impact that the ideas of the Enlightenment had on the English colonies.


Students will write in a clear, coherent manner
Students will logically defend an argument with facts
Students will organize thoughts


General Task Description

Imagine that you live in Salem, Massachusetts in the year 1692, during the Salem Witchcraft Trials. The Enlightenment has not occurred yet, but you have great foresight into the future, and already are thinking like one of the Enlightenment philosophers.
Using your “Enlightened point of view,” you will write a newspaper editorial to the Salem Times, which gives your reaction to the events of the Salem Witchcraft Trials.

Task Specifics:
1. In your editorial, you should include your personal opinions regarding the following:
-The fairness of the trials
-The quality of evidence used in the trials
-The reasoning/rationale behind the trials
-What should have happened during the trials (if the ideas of the Enlightenment were widespread during this time)
-How incidents like this one can be prevented in the future
2. Create a title for your editorial (“eye-catching” titles are the best kind!), and write it at the top of your paper.



Your editorial should be clear, understandable, well-organized, and should show evidence of an “Enlightened point of view.” Your editorial should be free from grammatical or spelling errors, and should be written neatly or typed. Essays of this sort should always include an introduction and a conclusion. Last, your editorial should be at least 3 paragraphs in length.





Levels of Performance (Points)

Writing Clarity

Writing is clear and coherent; information and thoughts are well-organized
5 - clear and well-organized 3 - some organization present 0 - disorganized
Spelling and grammar are correct
3 - mistake free 0 - many errors
Essay is typed or neatly hand-written
3 - very neat 0 - unreadable or very messy

Introduction and conclusion required thinking and are meaningful
5 - intro. and conclusion are thought-out and meaningful 3 - intro. and concl. are present, but do not add meaning to the essay 0 - intro. and concl. are not present
Arguments demonstrate a clear understanding of the Enlightenment
10 - arguments show a good understanding of the concept 5 - arguments show a moderate grasp of the concept 0 - arguments do not make sense

Meets minimum length requirement
3 - at least 3 paragraphs in length 0 -1 paragraph or less
Includes a thoughtful title
3 - title is "eye-catching" and thoughtful 0 - title is not present
Total Score
/32 Possible


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Copyright 2018, Jon Mueller. Professor of Psychology, North Central College, Naperville, IL. Comments, questions or suggestions about this website should be sent to the author, Jon Mueller, at