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Exploring the West Using Fiction

Life Skills:

  • Thinking & Reasoning
  • Communication

Time Frame:
2 class periods that run 45 minutes each.

Group Size:
Small Groups


 

Summary:
The purpose of this activity is to use works of fiction to help explore post Civil War development of the American West. A secondary purpose is to integrate Language Arts curriculum with Social Studies.

Enduring Understanding: Students will understand the development of the American West following the Civil War.

Essential Questions:

  • What were the factors that brought people west?
  • What were the factors contributing to the settlement of the West?
  • What were some of the conflicts that arose among various groups involved in the settlement of the West?

Materials:
Western novel by Louis L'amour or other western writer.
Overhead projector or whiteboard

Background For Teachers:
Teachers must be knowledgeable about the development of the American West, specifically as it relates to the objectives in the state core curriculum. A knowledge of the works of Louis L'amour or other western novelists would also be helpful.

Student Prior Knowledge:
In order for this lesson to be successful, students need to be able to work cooperatively.. Students need knowledge of how to write a multi paragraph essay.

Instructional Procedures:
Pre lesson activity:

Step 1 Ask the class what they think of when they hear the term American West.

Step 2 Record all answers on the board or on an overhead transparency.

Step 3 When students have exhausted their knowledge; begin grouping responses into categories such as myth and reality.

Step 4 Poll students as to where they acquired their knowledge and categorize the usefulness of those sources for academic purposes.

Step 5 Direct students to select a novel by a western writer and complete questions from the Exploring the American West worksheet outside of class. (attached)

Lesson activity:

Step 1 Divide the class into small groups of 3-5 students.

Step 2 Each group selects a group leader and a scribe.

Step 3 Each group member shares what they found in their novel as directed by the worksheet with the other members of the group.

Step 4 Each group compares and contrasts the findings of the individual group members.

Step 5 The scribe records the findings of the group on a master list to be turned in to the teacher.

Step 6 The teacher brings the class back together when all groups have completed their lists.

Step 7 Each group leader shares the findings of their group with the class. The teacher will record similarities and overall themes to help the class make connections.

Step 8 Assign each student to write a multi paragraph essay outlining their new knowledge of the American West. Essays should include individual findings, group findings and a comparison with other sources, notably the text or other teacher introduced material.

Attachments

Strategies For Diverse Learners:
For gifted students: Expand the assignment to include a movie and an academic work comparing the access of information between visual and verbal styles and accuracy of information.

For struggling students: Assign all students the same book and simplify the assignment eliminating the essay and focusing only identifying conflicts and the railroad.

Extensions:

Web Sites

Assessment Plan:
Students will be assessed in three ways.

  • completion of a novel
  • active participation in a group
  • completion of a multi paragraph essay illustrating their new knowledge of the American West including individual findings, group findings and a comparison with other sources, notably the text or other teacher introduced material

Rubric:

Author:
Scott Stucki
Russell Fullmer
Heidi Alder

Created Date :
Jul 09 2002 09:18 AM

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