To help visualize life in the United States during the 1800's, have students make collage Venn diagrams. Label one circle City and the other circle Country. Divide the class into two groups. Each group will collect pictures from magazines, newspapers and other publications to include on that particular circle of the diagram (whenever necessary, students may draw a particular scene or item for the diagram). Students might collect pictures of types of transportation, clothing of the era, workplaces, homes, etc. When all clippings are presented, ask the class to work as a whole to decide which pictures could be put in the center of the Venn diagram illustrating duality. Label and display this "whole class" Venn diagram.
Help students understand the impact of technology on communication by having them communicate with Morse code. Break into cooperative groups and give each group a copy of the Morse code alphabet, available online at http://www.zianet.com/sparks/coder.html Students can write sentences using the code, as well as exchange and decode messages. Students may also want to visit several sites that allow words to be typed into an on-screen box that will be translated in Morse code with the click of the mouse. These sites include:
Create a brochure to convince people to move to a particular town or area of Montana or Indiana. Include historical information within the brochure.
Using the lists of items generated in the Think, Pair, Share activity, have students use catalogs, magazine and newspaper advertisements to calculate the cost of the items the group thought important enough to take on this journey.
To better understand the impact of Edison's light bulb, have students experiment with C-cell batteries, coated copper wire with both ends stripped of coating, and a flashlight bulb. Ask each cooperative group to figure out how to light the bulb with the materials provided.
Have students create "Wild West" songs to the tunes of familiar children's songs. Song topics could include the 1849 rush to the west, the 1862 Homestead Act, the 1869 completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, etc.
Have a feast! Use Barbara Walker's The Little House Cookbook: Frontier Food from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Classic Stories. New York: Harper Collins, 1979. ISBN: 0064460908.
Invite a railroad engineer to your classroom to discuss the role of the railroads in today's society. Students can compare/contrast this role throughout the history of the railroad system in America.
Ask students to find out if any family members or neighbors/friends are immigrants. Have students conduct interviews to find out how people lived in their homelands and what differences they have realized since coming to the United States. Have students share their findings with the class. Students could include photos.
Many immigrants feel that American citizenship is very important. Students can research the series of steps involved in becoming a U.S. citizen.
About the Author
Jeanne Goldberg teaches 5th grade at Green Valley Elementary School (www. greenvalleyschool.org) in Parma, Ohio. Jeanne teaches language arts for her own class, as well as science and health for the entire fifth grade. Recently, Jeanne and two colleagues received a $8,000 grant to build an outdoor classroom and wetland sanctuary in front of the school. The sanctuary contains a large pond, a two-tiered deck, forty raised bed gardens, a walking path, and wetland flora and fauna. For their effort, the school was featured on NPR and Jeanne was named the Conservation Teacher of the Year. Jeanne holds a Master's degree in computer education, and for the past two years she has been a Master Teacher at the National Teacher Training Institute hosted by WVIZ (www.wviz.org) in Cleveland. To examine more media-rich lesson plans and resources, visit NTTI Online at www.thirteen.org/edonline/ntti.