After visiting the Monticello estate, engage the students in a group discussion:
- Thomas Jefferson was the first US Secretary of State and spent quite a bit of time in France and Europe. What French or European influences did you see at his Monticello estate?
- What are these influences?
- In Jefferson's mind, Monticello was destined to “never be finished." How does your visit to Monticello supports that statement?
- Which innovation observed on the mansion tour do you believe was the most interesting?
- Tell me about your emotions when you were in the basement level of his mansion.
- What does Thomas Jefferson’s statement, “I cannot live without books!” tell you about him?
Now close your eyes and imagine the mansion and grounds during Jefferson's lifetime. Who might have visited or lived at this estate during his lifetime? Pick a person and expound upon a conversation he/she more than likely had with Thomas Jefferson.
The students can also be engaged in a conversation about Thomas Jefferson’s relevance today. This can take place at Monticello, on the bus, or back in the classroom.
- What do you believe is Thomas Jefferson’s most lasting and important legacy?
- Thomas Jefferson wrote a number of articles in his time to persuade the citizens to a “call to action” (aka, do something!) If he were alive today and on Twitter, what might he write? Write a brief (40 characters or less) Public Service Announcement from Thomas Jefferson to his Twitter followers encouraging them to a “call to action” based upon his ideals.
- What can we learn from Thomas Jefferson that applies to us today?
- Jefferson is one of a hand full of US presidents honored with memorials on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. What common threads can you identify in these US presidents?