American West in the 1800s Classroom Activity

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1 American West in the 1800s Classroom Activity The Classroom Activity introduces students to the context of a performance task, so they are not disadvantaged in demonstrating the skills the task intends to assess. Contextual elements include: an understanding of the setting or situation in which the task is placed, potentially unfamiliar concepts that are associated with the scenario, and key terms or vocabulary students will need to understand in order to meaningfully engage with and complete the performance task. The Classroom Activity is also intended to generate student interest in further exploration of the key idea(s). The Classroom Activity should be easy to implement with clear instructions. Please read through the entire Classroom Activity before beginning the activity with students to ensure any classroom preparation can be completed in advance. Throughout the activity, it is permissible to pause and ask students if they have any questions. Resources Needed: Chart paper, white board, or chalkboard Marker or chalk Some method of displaying ancillary materials 1 Learning Goals: Students will understand the context of the key concepts related to the topics: o Pioneers traveled west of the Mississippi River to discover and settle new land. o Clothing, housing, and travel in the 1800s were different compared to those same things today. Students will understand the key terms: Pioneers: people that discovered and settled on new land, also known as settlers Frontier: the edge of a settled area Note: Definitions are provided here for the convenience of facilitators. Students are expected to understand these key terms in the context of the task, not memorize the definitions. 1 Facilitators can decide whether they want to display ancillary materials using an overhead projector or computer/smartboard, or whether they want to produce them as a handout for students.

2 American West in the 1800s Classroom Activity [Purpose: The facilitator s goal is to help students understand that pioneers traveled west of the Mississippi River to discover and settle new land. This activity will allow students to be active participants as they explore the concept of the American West in the 1800s.] Facilitator says: Today, we will get ready for the American West in the 1800s Performance Task. Let s start by discussing where the American West is located. [Show Figure 1: Map of the United States. Note: For students who are visually impaired, read the description below the map.] Facilitator says: Before the 1800s, most people lived on the east coast of the United States. That s where the thirteen original colonies were. The colonies were where the first people who came to America from Europe began to build their homes. [Point to the east coast of the United States displayed on Figure 1: Map of the United States. Note: For students who are visually impaired, explain that the east coast is on the right side of the map.] [Point to each state as you say the state s name.] Facilitator says: There were thirteen colonies. They were Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Virginia. Facilitator says: In the 1800s, people began to move westward. These people were called pioneers or settlers. A pioneer is someone who discovers and begins building on new land. They began to cross the land near the Mississippi River and continue west. The area just west of the Mississippi River was called the frontier. A frontier is the edge of a settled area. The pioneers discovered new land and set up new homes and towns on the frontier. [Point to and explain that you are pointing to the frontier area. Explain that the frontier area is located just west of the Mississippi River.] Facilitator says: People continued west and made trails all the way to the coast of the Pacific Ocean where Washington, Oregon, and California are today. [Point to and explain that you are now showing the Pacific Ocean, which is located along the western coast of the United States. Read the short paragraph accompanying the map.] [Note: Make sure students arrive at the common understanding that: Pioneers traveled west of the Mississippi River to discover and settle new land.] [Say and record the common understanding on the chart paper, white board, or chalkboard.]

3 Note: The following section can be modified to accommodate various teacher-student interaction types such as a teacher-led discussion with the entire class, a teacher-student discussion for remote locations with a single student, or small groups. [Divide the class into small groups of 3 4.] Facilitator says: Now we are going to discuss travel and life in the American West in the 1800s. [Show Figure 2: Travel in the American West in the 1800s and Figure 3: Life in the American West in the 1800s. Note: For students who are visually impaired, read the descriptions below the photos.] Facilitator says: I want each group to discuss what you know about travel and life in the 1800s. I am going to show you photos of travel and people in the West in the 1800s. What observations can you make about life in the American West at that time? Think about what clothing, housing, and travel may have been like at that time. [Say and write the following small group discussion questions on the chart paper, white board, or chalkboard.] Small group discussion questions: What was the clothing like in the 1800s? What was a house like in the 1800s? How did the people travel? [Give the students approximately five minutes to discuss. Observe the students to ensure that the students are on task.] Facilitator says: When I call on your group, someone from the group will come write one idea that your group discussed about the clothing, housing, or travel in the 1800s. [Allow student volunteers to come to the chart paper, white board, or chalkboard to record their responses, or the facilitator may record the student responses.] The clothes did not have decorations. The houses were made of logs. They traveled by covered wagons with horses. Facilitator says: Next, we are going to compare the clothing, housing, and travel in the American West in the 1800s to what those things are like today. Take a few minutes to discuss what is different and what is alike about the clothing, housing, and travel. [Give students approximately five minutes to discuss. While students are discussing, create two lists on the chart paper, white board, or chalkboard. Write the words American West in the 1800s at the top of one list, and write the word Today at the top of the other list. Observe students to ensure that students are on task.]

4 Facilitator says: Choose one person from your group to share with the class what your group discussed about clothing in the 1800s. [Facilitator records responses on the American West in the 1800s list.] They dressed in layers. The clothes looked plain. Facilitator says: Now, let s compare that to today. How are clothes different today? [Facilitator records responses on the Today list.] The clothes have more designs on them. There is more variety in the types of clothes. Facilitator says: Choose a different person from your group to share with the class what your group discussed about what it thinks homes were like in the 1800s. [Facilitator records responses on the American West in the 1800s list.] They look small. They may have been cold at night. Facilitator says: Now, let s compare that to today. How are homes different today? [Facilitator records responses on the Today list.] Homes now are made of different materials like bricks and plastic siding. Homes are closer together today. Facilitator says: Finally, choose a different person from your group to share with the class what your group discussed about travel in the 1800s. [Facilitator records responses on the American West in the 1800s list.] Horses and cattle were used for travel. Going somewhere took a long time.

5 Facilitator says: How is travel different today? [Facilitator records responses on the Today list.] There a lot of different ways to travel now car, bus, plane, train.... Travel today is a lot faster and easier. Facilitator says: As you can tell from the comparisons that you have made, life in the American West in the 1800s was quite different from life today. Note: Make sure students arrive at the common understanding that: Clothing, housing, and travel in the 1800s were different compared to those same things today. [Say and record the common understanding on the chart paper, white board, or chalkboard.] Facilitator says: In your performance task, you will be learning more about the American West in the 1800s. The work you did today should help prepare you for the research and writing you will be doing in the performance task.

6 Ancillary Material Figure 1 United States Map Picture Description: Figure 1 shows a map of the United States around The right side of the map shows the 13 colonies and the Atlantic Ocean. The Mississippi River runs to the right of the middle of the map. West of the Mississippi River there are states and territories. On the left side of the map there is California and the Pacific Ocean. There is a paragraph below the map which states: Pioneers came from the East, which they thought was becoming too crowded. They rode in wagons, walked, rode horses, and floated boats along rivers. Before the 1840s, most pioneers traveled as far west as Illinois and Missouri. After 1840 they went to Oregon and California. Excerpt from Life on a Pioneer Homestead by Sally Senzell Isaacs. Text copyright 2001 by Heinemann Library. Reprinted by permission of Heinemann Library. Photograph copyright 2001 by Heinemann Library. Reprinted by permission of Heinemann Library.

7 Ancillary Material Figure 2 Travel in the American West in the 1800s Picture Description: This first photograph, Figure 2, titled Travel in the American West in the 1800s, is a picture of a wagon train. There is a long line of wagons that are being pulled by horses. The wagons have covers made of white fabric over them. There is a man riding a horse who is near the front of the wagons in the picture. Photograph of a wagon train (Image Number ), copyright by Superstock. Used by permission.

8 Ancillary Material Figure 3 Life in the American West in the 1800s Picture Description: This second photograph, Figure 3, titled Life in the American West in the 1800s, is a picture of three women and two children sitting outside of a house. The women are all wearing very long, plain dresses with aprons over them. A boy is standing up; he is wearing overall pants and a long sleeve shirt. There is a girl wearing a long dress who is sitting down. Part of the house is in the picture. The house is made of logs and flat wood. The house is small and has a window on the front of it. Photograph of a family in the western United States in 1895 (Image Number ), copyright by Superstock. Used by permission.

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