ALEX Lesson Plan

Pros and Cons - Picture Perfect Capitol for Alabama

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Mary Boone
System: Montgomery County
School: Montgomery County Board Of Education
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 35154


Pros and Cons - Picture Perfect Capitol for Alabama


Pictures of Alabama State Capitols are provided in this lesson to give students the opportunity to research information that could help them to give their point of view. It will be up to the students to provide further information about the pictures. This will start a conversation about the best location for a capital city and its capitol building.

This lesson was created as part of the Alabama Bicentennial Commission’s Curriculum Development Project.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 3
6 ) Distinguish their own point of view from that of the narrator or those of the characters. [RL.3.6]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.3.6- Identify the narrator's or character's point of view in a story.

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 3
12 ) Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause and effect. [RI.3.3]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.3.12- Identify events, ideas, or steps in an informational text pertaining to time, sequence, or cause and effect.

Social Studies
SS2010 (2010)
Grade: 3
Geographic and Historical Studies: People, Places, and Regions
11 ) Interpret various primary sources for reconstructing the past, including documents, letters, diaries, maps, and photographs.

•  Comparing maps of the past to maps of the present

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SS.AAS.3.11- Compare documents, letters, diaries, maps, and photographs and explain how they are used to reconstruct the past.

Local/National Standards:


Primary Learning Objective(s):

Students should be able to use a map of Alabama to identify locations of its various capitols.

Students should be able to place the picture of each capitol on a timeline showing when a county was used as the capital of Alabama. (RI.3.3)

Students should be able to use cause and effect to determine why a capital was moved to another county. (RI.3.3)

Students should be able to differentiate the meanings of capital and capitol.

Students should be able to determine the correct usage and meanings of capitol and capital.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

Students should be able to explain what caused the state to change the capital city from one location to the other using supporting ideas with details and examples. (RI.3.3) 

Students should use point of view to interpret or describe the value of the design of the capitol. (RL.3.6)

Students should be able to make a timeline of the changes of capitals in Alabama and compare each design of the capitol buildings.

Students should justify their point of view in a debate on the topic--Pros and Cons of Choosing the Location of the State of Alabama Capitol.

Students should identify reasons why Washington, D.C. was chosen as the capital of the United States. Students should use this premise to analyze why the capital of Alabama changed.

Students should be able to compare former capitals to the capital of today.

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

31 to 60 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Map of Alabama

Map of the United States

Access to the internet

Student Journals

Chart with vocabulary and definitions - capital and capitol

Use the attachments for additional materials and resources.  Copy materials prior to introducing the lesson.

Technology Resources Needed:

Devices that access the internet/intranet(optional)

iPads, Chromebooks, laptops, computers, smartphones


The teacher and students should know that Alabama has had five capitals since it became part of the United States. During the territorial period, the town of St. Stephens (in what is now Washington County) served as the capital of the Alabama Territory, beginning in 1817. When Alabama achieved statehood in 1819, the capital shifted to Huntsville for the first state constitutional convention, and the next year, after much lobbying by political factions, the capital was moved to Cahawba, Dallas County. As the power centers in the state began to shift, political factions began to push for a new site, and in 1826, the state legislature voted to move the capital to Tuscaloosa, where it remained until 1846 when the centrally located city of Montgomery was selected as the permanent state capital.

Additional information about Alabama's State Capitals:


Essential Question: What is the best location for an Alabama State capital city and capitol building?

Before Strategy:

Teach the Vocabulary - capital and capitol by using the chart created with the term and definition. 

Show the students a United States map.

Have students locate Washington, D.C. on the map.

Ask students why they think Washington, D.C. was chosen as the capital of the United States.

Tell them they are right if they say it is because at the time it was chosen as the national capital Washington, D.C. was a central location for the 13 original colonies. Explain that Washington, D.C. is not a central location now because there are many more states.

If students do not recognize this, allow students to trace or highlight the 13 original colonies on a map on the interactive whiteboard or a wall map. (See attached 1826 U.S. Map.)

Tell students that they will have the opportunity to debate if the capital city and capitol building of Alabama are in the best place or if there was a better location used in the past. 

During Strategy:

Attachments are provided for teacher and students. Download attachments prior to teaching the lesson.

Give students pictures of capitol buildings or show pictures on the interactive whiteboard. 

Give students a map of Alabama, have a wall map, or have a map displayed on the interactive whiteboard. 

Have students highlight, circle, or underline locations where Alabama's capital has been located, including the current capital of Montgomery.

Have students label the pictures of the capitol buildings with their county and the time the capitol building was in the capital city of Alabama. (See attachments for pictures of capitol buildings.)

Have students give their point of view as to why a capital would change from one city to another. The teacher should record student answers on a chart or interactive whiteboard.

Students should jot down notes in their journal or on the side of the picture.

Divide students into small, manageable groups and give each group a picture of a capitol.  

Tell students to find as much information as possible to assist them in giving a reason why a capital city or capitol building of Alabama should remain in Montgomery or be changed to a different location.

Students should create entries in their journals of facts and opinions of their group members. Inform students that journal notes will be used as an assessment. Students should have important dates of when capitol building and their capital cities were used and then removed. Tell students they will be constructing a timeline with these important dates to be used as an assessment.

After Strategy:

After a reasonable amount of time, reconvene.

Whole Group:  Students share what they think about each capitol building and its location. Students should be able to place the picture of each capitol building on a timeline/sequence showing when a county was used as a capital city of Alabama.

Students will use facts and opinions gathered in their groups to debate their point of view.

Lastly, the students should have an opportunity to write their individual point of view after working in groups/debating in groups. (Independent assessment)

**Some files will display in a new window. Others will prompt you to download.

Assessment Strategies

Students will use notes gathered during the class discussions, the recorded points of view of their classmates, and the debate to write an individual point of view. Students will choose the location for a capital/capitol and cite reasons for choosing the location.

Students should construct a timeline showing when each capitol building was located in the capital city of Alabama. This timeline can be used as an assessment.

Students should make journal entries of various opinions made by students in their group.

Jot notes, on pictures given to students to analyze, can be used as an assessment.


Students should have an opportunity to have a debate describing reasons for or against having a particular location as the capital of Alabama.

Students should identify or locate streets on the legend for the map of Catawba, and then locate where the capitol building would have stood (inference).

Suggested Reading List:

Lewis, Herbert James, Lost Capitols of Alabama, History Press, 2014 




The teacher will pre-teach vocabulary and clear up any misconceptions.

Students may create a timeline in a small group with the teacher or student tutor.  

View the Special Education resources for instructional guidance in providing modifications and adaptations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the Alabama Alternate Assessment.