Step 1. Step 1. On the board, overhead projector, or computer screen, create a three-columned chart. Title the first column "19th Century Homesteaders," the second column "FRONTIER HOUSE Applicants," and the third column "Production Concerns." Ask your students to remind you of the qualities and characteristics a 19th century homesteader would have needed, based on their examination of the online photographs and essays during the last class period. Put your students' responses into the first column on the chart.
Step 2. Tell your students that they will now examine the FRONTIER HOUSE participant selection process. Ask your students to log on to http://www.pbs.org/wnet/frontierhouse/project/search.html. Provide your students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, and ask your students to read the essay about the selection process and identify the criteria the producers seemed to be looking for. Allow your students 10-15 minutes to read the article.
Step 3. Check for student comprehension. What did the producers seem to be looking for in participants? (Families who had a real interest in the time period that was being recreated; families who had some experience in primitive living, but were not already necessarily doing it; families who were united in their desire to participate.) Write student responses in the second column of the chart, "FRONTIER HOUSE Applicants."
Step 4. Ask your students why the producers may not want to accept applicants who already lived like homesteaders. Why might the producers have filmed the interviews with the prospective applicants? Ask your students if they think sending in homemade soap, tanned hides, or knitted shawls would have helped or hindered applications. Why?
(Student responses will vary.)
Step 5. Tell your students that they will now need to assume the role of the series producers. What concerns would they have about the participants they were selecting? What qualities would be important for the participants to have? Are these qualities beneficial for homesteaders, or beneficial for people applying to be on a television show? What makes an interesting television show? Write student responses in the third column of the chart, "Production Concerns."
Step 6. Ask your students to look at the whole chart. What do they think the ideal FRONTIER HOUSE family might be like, based on the information in the chart? Students should take into account the qualities homesteaders needed, the criteria of the selection group, and the production concerns.
Step 7. Divide your students into groups of three or four. Distribute the Perfect Frontier Family Biography sheet (see attached) to your students. Ask your students to develop profiles for a fictional family that would a) possess some of the qualities needed to be a successful homesteader, b) meet the requirements of the selection group, and c) fulfill the production concerns.
Step 8. Ask groups to share the profiles of the families they have created. Do the families fulfill all of the requirements? Why or why not?