(Beginning of Class Two)
Step 8. Ask your class to recount some of the difficulties and hardships that Sweet Betsy and Ike encountered on their trip to California. (They were attacked by Indians, they got lost in the desert, their wagon crashed, their horses ran off, their cattle died, they ran out of food, they ended up getting divorced.) Ask your students if they think this is realistic. Did real settlers have all of the problems and difficulties that Sweet Betsy and Ike had? (Student reactions will vary.)
Step 9. Tell your students that recently, some people went off to Montana and lived the lives of settlers in the year 1883. The students will be doing some research on the FRONTIER HOUSE Web site, which details the lives and adventures of these modern-day pioneers.
Step 10.Ask your students to log on to the FRONTIER HOUSE "Plains, Trains, and Spare Wagon Parts" Web site at http://www.pbs.org/wnet/frontierhouse/multimedia/interactive. Tell them to click on the link that says "Travel to Montana, 1883 Style." Explain that this interactive activity will give students the opportunity to travel to Montana like homesteaders in the year 1883. Provide your students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking them to complete the activity on the site three times, taking a journey from each of the three departure cities. Students should record five facts about travel in 1883 on while completing the activity. Allow students to complete the activity, and then check for comprehension. (Answers will vary.)
Step 11.Ask your students if they think that real settlers in the year 1883 might have experienced the same problems experienced by Sweet Betsy and Ike. (The students will realize that "Sweet Betsy from Pike" was fairly realistic.)
Step 1. Explain to your students that you would like to further examine the lyrics of "Sweet Betsy from Pike," because they will soon be writing brand-new verses for the tune based on the experiences of the FRONTIER HOUSE participants who lived the life of Montana settlers in the year 1883.
Step 2. Ask your students to examine Verse 1 of the song. Tell them to number the lines of Verse 1 as #1, #2, #3, and #4. How many syllables are in each line of the verse? (Line 1 has eleven syllables, line 2 has ten syllables, line 3 has ten syllables, and line 4 has twelve syllables). So each line of the song has between ten and twelve syllables in it.
Step 4. Ask your students to examine how the lines within each verse of the song rhyme. (The first and second lines of each verse rhyme, and the third and fourth lines of each verse rhyme.)
Step 5. Tell your students that when they create their own verses, they will need to stick to the rules you have established for "Sweet Betsy from Pike." Each verse must have four lines, each line may only have between 10 and 12 syllables, the first line must rhyme with the second, and the third line must rhyme with the fourth.
Step 6. Divide your students into their previous groups of 4-5. Ask your students to log on to the FRONTIER HOUSE Who's Who at http://www.pbs.org/wnet/frontierhouse/families/whoswho.html, or the FRONTIER HOUSE Video Diaries at http://www.pbs.org/wnet/frontierhouse/families/video_diaries.html. Provide your students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking them to research the hardships of one FRONTIER HOUSE participant or family. On the Who's Who page, students will see background information on each participant by clicking on their picture. On the Video Diaries page, students will see actual video of the participants recounting their experiences.
Step 7. After the students have researched the hardships faced by an individual or family, each group should write a "Sweet Betsy from Pike"-style verse about their selected individual or group. Students should again remember that each verse must have four lines, each line may only have between 10 and 12 syllables, the first line must rhyme with the second, and the third line must rhyme with the fourth.
An example of a new verse, based on FRONTIER HOUSE participants, would be:
"Oh, do you remember the Clunes from L.A.,
who went to Montana, so far away?
Goodbye to the beaches, goodbye to the sun,
Their trip to Montana was not very fun."
Step 8. Each group should present their new verses to the rest of the class. Can you assemble the class's verses into a brand new ballad?
Step 9. Share your new verses with The Frontier House staff by emailing them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(End of Class Two)