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Texas Ranch House -- For Teachers
Meet the Adventurers
Visit the Cooke Ranch
Interactive History
Adventurers Take Stock
1867: Places, People & Events
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Lesson Plan 1
Lesson Plan 2
Lesson Plan 3
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Overview
Procedures for Teachers
Introductory Activity:

1) Explain to your students that you are soon going to be studying a specific period in US history, but before you begin to discuss the time period, you have a challenge you'd like them to complete.

2) Divide your class into groups of five. Give each group of five a manila folder and six marbles. Tell the class that in a few minutes, it will be each group's responsibility to travel around the perimeter of the classroom as quickly as possible with the marbles held on the manila folder. Groups must keep in mind the following rules as they move around the room (you may want to write these guidelines on the board):
  • Only one person in the group can hold the manila folder.
  • The manila folder can't be folded, bent, or otherwise modified.
  • Group members may not touch the marbles while they are on the manila folder.
  • If any marbles fall off the folder, other group members can retrieve them and put them back onto the folder; however, the "folder holder" must stop moving and wait for any lost marbles to be returned.
3) Allow the groups a few minutes to strategize on how best to meet the challenge. Instruct your class that as each group tries to move around the classroom, the rest of the class must remain silent. Only the group attempting the challenge can speak. One at a time, ask each group to attempt to move around the perimeter of the entire classroom holding the marbles on the folder. Time the groups as they attempt to complete the task, and record each group's time on the board. Do not allow any discussion between each group's attempts.

4) After each group has had an opportunity to attempt the challenge, ask your students what made the challenge easy or difficult? What strategies did groups use to make their efforts more successful? What specific roles did group members have as they attempted to complete the task? How would groups change their approach if they were given the opportunity to try the task again? If time permits, let groups attempt the challenge a second time.

5) Explain to your students that during this lesson, they will be examining the era of cattle drives in the American West following the Civil War. Ask your students to keep the "marble challenge" in mind as they begin to learn about cattle drives.

6) Divide your students into four groups. Assign each group one of the following topics:

GROUP 1: Cattle Drive Trails
GROUP 2: Cattle Markets
GROUP 3: Cattle
GROUP 4: Cowboys
GROUP 5: Terms and Herd Formation

7) Distribute the "Hide and Horn" organizer to your students. If you have printed out and copied "The Chisholm Trail: Exploring the Folklore and Legacy" brochure, distribute it to your students. If you choose to have your students to view the brochure online, ask your students to log on to http://www.thc.state.tx.us/publications/brochures/Chisholm_Trail.pdf. As a class, read aloud the brief article on the right-hand side of page 2 of the brochure together. Explain to your class that each group will become experts on a particular aspect of cattle drives. Provide your students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking each group to read the brochure and complete the information on the "Hide and Horn" organizer that applies to their assigned topic. Explain to students that each group will be responsible for sharing the information they discover with the other groups.

8) Give your students 15-20 minutes to complete this task. After each group has gathered the necessary information, ask each group to share their discoveries with the rest of the class. Students should record the answers supplied by the other groups on their organizers. Use the "Hide and Horn" answer key to check student answers. You may collect the "Hide and Horn" organizers for assessment purposes.

9) Ask your students what similarities and differences there are between the "marble challenge" and 19th century cattle drives. How was each group of students in the marble activity like cowboys on a cattle drive? What parallels are there between the marble game and cattle drives? Why would a cattle drive be far more difficult? Ask students if they think a cattle drive would be fun. Why or why not? (Student answers will vary.) Tell students that before the end of the lesson, they will have the opportunity to lead a virtual cattle drive, and the knowledge they've gained so far will greatly help them have a successful drive.


Learning Activity:

1) Ask your students if they can recount what cowboys' lives were like on the trail, based on the information they retrieved from the "Chisholm Trail" brochure (Student answers will vary; refer to "Hide and Horn" answer key for specific details on cowboy life). Ask your students if they think they would enjoy working as a cowboy (Student answers will vary). Explain to your students that there are many misconceptions and stereotypes about cowboys that they will need to understand before they go on their virtual cattle drives.

2) Ask your students to log on to the University of Texas at Austin's Blanton Museum Student Pages at http://www.blantonmuseum.org/elearning/aac/student.html, or bring up the Web site on your presentation computer. Ask your students to click on the link that reads "Texas Cowboy: Myth and Reality," and then the link that reads "Cowboy Myths and Truths Game." Provide your students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking students to examine each question, and decide as a class if each presents a "myth" or "truth."

3) Read each question aloud with your students, and ask students to debate whether each question presents a "myth" or a "truth" about cowboys and life on the trail during a cattle drive. After debating each question, take a vote on what students think the answer will be (Student answers will vary). Make your choices based on a tally of student opinion, and see how accurate your class is.

4) Explain to your students that recently, a group of people had the chance to experience life on a 19th century cattle drive first-hand. They were participants in a "hands-on history" TV series called TEXAS RANCH HOUSE, and they agreed to live for more than four months under the conditions of ranchers and cowboys in 1867 Texas.

5) Insert TEXAS RANCH HOUSE, Episode 7, "Blazing Trails" into your VCR or DVD player. CUE the video where you see a wide shot of a herd of cattle grazing on the broad prairie, and you hear the narrator say, "With a herd of 131 cattle rounded up, the drive can begin." Provide your students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking your students to identify the reasons why ranching was transformed into a huge business in the mid-1860s. PLAY the video. PAUSE the video when you see Mr. Cooke sitting on the porch of the ranch, and you hear him say, "I'm really thirsty." Check for comprehension, and ask your students why ranching was transformed into a huge business in the mid-1860s. (After the Civil War, Texas was overrun with cattle, while the rest of the country was crying out for beef. When the town of Abilene, Kansas was founded in 1867 at the end of the Kansas Pacific Railroad, transporting cattle all over the United States became a reality.) Ask your students if they think the cattle drive will be easy or difficult for the cowboys. (Student answers and predictions will vary.)

6) Provide your students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking them to identify how an actual cattle drive differs from the Hollywood image of a cattle drive. PLAY the video from the previous pause point. PAUSE the video when you see Shaun kneel down next to the chuckwagon, and you hear him say, "I may not have a lot to feed them." Check for comprehension, and ask your students how an actual cattle drive differs from the Hollywood image. (The herd does not gallop across the plains quickly. The pace is quite slow.) Ask your students why it's essential for the herd to move slowly. (The herd needs to move slowly so the cattle can graze and gain weight on the trail, and increase their value at market.) Ask your students to review the different positions the cowboys occupy while accompanying the herd, as seen in the video. (Trail boss, point man, flank riders, drag riders.) REWIND the video and REPLAY the segment if necessary. Ask your students why they think Rob compared leading the herd to "squeezing toothpaste into a salt shaker." (Student answers will vary.) Ask your students if they see any new similarities between the cattle drive and the "marble challenge" from the beginning of the lesson. (Student answers will vary.)

7) Provide your students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking them to identify how this cattle drive differs from a 19th century cattle drive. PLAY the video from the previous pause point. PAUSE the video when you see thunderclouds, and you hear the narrator say, "the towering thunderheads to the south spell trouble." Check for comprehension, and ask your students how this cattle drive differs from a 19th century cattle drive. (There are a number of differences between this cattle drive and a 19th century cattle drive. The chuckwagon is being driven by professionals, because it is considered too dangerous. The horses in the remuda would have been herded like cows, and not tied together. And the herd would have traveled between 12-15 miles in a day, not just six.) Ask your students what the "brown menu" would have featured on an 1867 cattle drive. (Dried meat, beans, biscuits, and coffee.) Why do they think it was called the "brown menu"? (It was all brown; there was nothing fresh to eat.) Ask your students why they think the thunderstorm could be troublesome. (It could be dangerous for the cowboys; it could also cause the herd to stampede.) Ask your students how they think the cowboys should deal with the approaching storm. (Student answers and predictions will vary.)

8) Provide your students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking them to check their predictions against the video, to see if the cowboys used any of their ideas to deal with the storm. PLAY the video from the previous pause point. STOP the video when you see a cow heading off into the brush, and you hear a cowboy's voice say, "Run away, troublemaker, run away!" Check for comprehension, and ask your students if the cowboys used any of their ideas to deal with the approaching storm. (Student answer will vary based on their predictions.) Ask your students how the cowboys' decisions affected the herd. (During the night, the herd scattered far and wide, and the cowboys had to waste time rounding them all up in the morning.) Ask your students if they think cows or marbles are easier to deal with. (Student answers will vary.)

9) Explain to your students that they now have sufficient information to begin their own virtual cattle drives. Based on the information they gathered from the brochure, the Web site, and the video, they should have all of the necessary training to lead their cattle drive. Ask your students to log on to the TEXAS RANCH HOUSE Cattle Drive Interactivity at http://www.pbs.org/ranchhouse/hitsory.html Provide your students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, and ask your students to complete the Cattle Drive Activity. Students should jot down notes as they complete the cattle drive about the various adventures they have and decisions they make, and either record or print out the assessment they receive at the end of the drive. Give your students 15-20 minutes to complete the interactivity.

10) Ask your students to reflect on their cattle driving experience. What decisions proved the most difficult? What would they do differently if they led the drive again? Would they want to travel back in time and go on a real cattle drive? Why or why not? (Student answers will vary.)


Culminating Activity/Assessment:

1) Tell your students to imagine that they have actually lived through the cattle drive experience that they simulated in the online interactivity. It is now their task to write a persuasive letter to a friend, either ENCOURAGING or DISCOURAGING the friend to become a cowboy on a cattle drive heading from Texas to Kansas. In the letter, students should cite specific examples of incidents and experiences faced during their virtual cattle drive experiences, discuss the challenges and dangers the friend might face, and point out some of the good things about being a cowboy (even if they don't think their friend should become one). Urge students to use the information they have gathered from the web sites and video segments to inform the creation of their letters.

2) After students have written their letters, ask students to share their work aloud. Collect student letters for assessment purposes.


Cross-Curricular Extensions:

Art
Create your own cattle brand using a combination of letters, pictures, or symbols.

Science
Research different types of cattle, where the cattle originated, and how they are used today. What types of cattle are most common in the United States today?

Investigate cattle's nutritional needs and digestive processes.

Language Arts
Research and define terms associated with cattle, and their correct usage. Terms to investigate include cattle, cow, bovine, bull, heifer, ox, and steer.

Geography
Investigate the different environments and types of terrain encountered on a cattle drive from South Texas to Kansas or Missouri. Chart the paths of various cattle routes on a map.


Community Connections:

  • Invite a dairy farmer or rancher to your class to discuss the maintenance and upkeep of cattle.
  • Visit a local museum or historical society to determine what was happening in your community during the era of cattle drives in the 19th century.
  • Invite a veterinarian to your class to discuss the care and treatment of large animals, such as horses and cattle.


About the Author:

Christopher W. Czajka is the Educational Consultant for TEXAS RANCH HOUSE, and served in the same capacity for Thirteen/WNET's previous hands-on history series FRONTIER HOUSE and COLONIAL HOUSE. He also worked as a Historical Consultant on FRONTIER HOUSE. He is the Associate Director of the LAB@Thirteen, which creates, supervises, and executes community and educational outreach initiatives associated with Thirteen/WNET's broadcast and online productions. Czajka has developed substantial web-based resources associated with the PBS series AFRICAN-AMERICAN LIVES, BROADWAY: THE AMERICAN MUSICAL, and SLAVERY AND THE MAKING OF AMERICA. Czajka is a proud graduate of Northwestern University, and received an M.F.A. in Theater for Young Audiences from Arizona State University.





TEXAS RANCH HOUSE