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THE OREGON TRAIL
by Tamara Dalley
Idaho State University

GRADE: 4

TIME ALLOTMENT: Six 60 minute classes

SUBJECT MATTER: Idaho History and Social Studies

OVERVIEW
In the 1840s, a mass migration of pioneers moved west on the Oregon Trail. For the next 25 years, pioneers traveled 2,000 miles from Missouri to Oregon's Willamette Valley in search of farmland or split off to California in search of gold. The Trail was the only feasible way for settlers to cross the mountains. Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah and Idaho would probably not be a part of the United States today were it not for the Oregon Trail. Through the activities presented in this unit, students will learn the significance of the Oregon Trail in Idaho history. In addition, students will conceptualize the Oregon Trail in relation to their own lives.


LEARNING OBJECTIVES

Understand the importance/significance of journal writing on the Oregon Trail.

Supplies and Cost Students will:

  • Choose a pocket-size, modern-day item to pack for the trip and explain their choice.
  • Watch a video to define 3 facts associated with the Oregon Trail.
  • Compare 1849 Missouri prices to 2001 Idaho prices of six supplies many pioneers packed.

Hardships Students will:

  • Watch a video to define 3 hardships faced by the emigrants (cholera, harsh weather/dust, accidental gunshot wounds).
  • Name a Native American tribe who relied on buffalo for subsistence and understand that most Native American people were friendly and helpful to the emigrants.
  • Know the animal most pioneers used to pull the wagons and understand why emigrants walked the trail instead of riding in the wagon.
  • Compute the number of steps it would take to walk from Missouri to Oregon.

Landmarks Students will:

  • Use a map to identify 8 landmarks on the Oregon Trail.
  • Appreciate the significance of inscription rocks along the trail.
  • Create a miniature inscription rock by molding clay and using a toothpick to carve inscriptions in their rocks.

Part One: Culminating Event - Television Spot Students will:

  • Use the Internet to identify 3 fantastic facts about the Oregon Trail. Understand the role of the media as a vehicle to provide information and/or sell a product or idea.
  • Know what elements are needed (script, props, actors) to produce a television spot.
  • Compile a list of 10 facts about the Oregon Trail experience using information accumulated in the unit.
  • Write a rough draft of a television spot persuading people not to travel the Oregon Trail (half of the class).
  • Write a rough draft of a television spot persuading people to travel the Oregon Trail (half of the class).

Part Two: Culminating Event - Television Spot
Students will:

  • Produce a :30 television spot using facts and information learned during the Oregon Trail unit.

 

PREP FOR TEACHER

Prior to teaching have students create "aged" journal covers. Prepare the journal worksheets to insert into the student-made journal covers. Cue the videotapes to the appropriate starting point. Make transparencies of the worksheets.

MATERIALS

Students:

MEDIA COMPONENTS

Video
In Search of the Oregon Trail: Part 1 and 11. Oregon Public Broadcasting, 1998

Book
A Rendezvous With Idaho History, by Dorothy Dutton Ed.D and Caryl Humphries, Sterling Ties Publications, 1994.

WEB SITES

Teacher Research

STANDARDS

From the Idaho Social Studies Achievement Standards Grade 4 (Sections 651 - 663). http://www.sde.state.id.us/
osbe/exstand.htm

Students will:

  • Understand the role of migration and immigration of people in the development of the United States.
  • Acquire critical thinking and analytical skills.
  • Understand significant conflicts in United States history.

PREVIEWING ACTIVITIES

Introductory Activity: (10 min)
Ask students to make a mind picture...“You're sitting at the dinner table and your parents tell you that the family must make a big decision. There is a job opening at a space station in outer space. It will be a great adventure. The problem is that you will leave all of your friends and family. You may never see them again.”

Ask students how they feel about the move. Explain to the students that like a space pioneer, the Oregon Trail pioneers probably shared many of the same feelings. Explain that for the next few days, each student will step back in time and become a pioneer of the 1840’s setting off for a new life in Oregon. Like many pioneers, each student will keep a record of their journey.


VIEWING ACTIVITIES

Step 1: Spider Graph (pre-assessment) Estimated time: 10 min Hand out journals to students. Ask students if they know how to make a spider graph. Students should turn to the spider graph (wagon wheel) outline in their journal. Have the class brainstorm what they already know of the Oregon Trail. Record information on the wagon wheel graph using an overhead projector. Have students record information on their graph. The graph will be revised as students learn more about the Trail.

Step 2: Map Estimated Time: 5 min Have students turn to the map of the Oregon Trail in their journal. Ask students to circle Independence, Missouri and trace the trail to Oregon with a crayon. Have students color the state of Idaho. Model activity on overhead.

Step 3: FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION (Video) - Introduction Have students turn to the Introduction fill-in-the-blank fact sheet in journal. Using the overhead, read the fact sheet out loud. Have students follow along. Have students watch a video clip from In Search of the Oregon Trail (Introduction to Part I) in order to fill in missing blanks on the fact sheet. Ask students to volunteer to read answers found in video.

Step 4: Journal Entry Read two journal entries from A Rendezvous With Idaho History (p. 107– journal entries : Jan. 25, Feb. 10) written by a young pioneer girl then explain the importance of journal writing as a way of recording events. Have students write an entry in their Oregon Trail journal. Topic: Descriptive paragraph about leaving home to travel the Oregon Trail. Remind students to write a first person account using complete sentences. Collect journals and tells students to think about one modern item they would bring on the Oregon Trail trip. The item must be small enough to fit in their pocket. The class will discuss the choices during the next lesson.

Step 5: Supplies and Cost Introductory Activity: (10 min) Ask students what modern-day item they each chose to pack for the trip. Have the class discuss the item they chose. Ask students what supplies they believe pioneers packed for their Oregon Trail trip. Have the class discuss the supplies they chose.

Step 6: FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION (Video) Have students turn to the Supplies and Cost fill-in-the-blank fact sheet in the journal. Using the overhead, read the worksheet out loud. Students should follow along. Have students watch a video clip from In Search of the Oregon Trail (Jumping off 10:50) in order to fill in 3 blanks on the worksheet. Ask students to volunteer to read answers found in the video. Explain that many pioneers over packed and had to discard many supplies.

Step 7: Supply List Activity In small groups, have the students use a 2001 newspaper advertisement to compare prices of supplies in 1849. Have students record comparisons on the supply list worksheet in the journal.

Step 8: Journal Entry Read three journal entries from A Rendezvous With Idaho History (p. 107 - journal entries: Mar. 1, April 9, April 20) written by a young pioneer girl about supplies, oxen and time of year to begin the journey. Have students write an entry in their Oregon Trail journal. Topic: Modern day item that I would pack. Collect journals and challenge students to go an evening without a modern convenience. Examples may include TV, Nintendo, ball point pen, electric lights, etc. Have students discuss the challenge the following day.

Step 9: Hardships Introductory Activity: (10 min) Ask the students what hardships they think the pioneers faced on the trail. Have students discuss hardships. Ask students what modern convenience they each gave up last night. Have students share experiences.

Step 10: Journal Reading Read three journal entries from A Rendezvous With Idaho History (p. 107 - journal entries: May 16, May 24, July 8) written by a young pioneer girl about long days, harsh weather and cholera. Hand out journals. Have students turn to Hardships fill-in-the-blank fact sheet in the journal.Using the overhead, read the fact sheet out loud. Students should follow along. Have students watch a video clip from In Search of the Oregon Trail (Bodily Knowledge 27:43 and To Hunt the Buffalo 34:58) in order to fill in the 5 blanks on the fact sheet. Ask students to volunteer to read answers found in video. Class discussion.

Step 11: How Many Steps? Have students compute how many steps it would take to walk 2000 miles. Have students measure their step and record the answer on the How Many Steps journal page. Collect journals and asks students to think how they would convince a friend to travel the Oregon Trail or to not travel the trail. Tell them that they are going to use the facts accumulated in the journal to produce a television spot. The project will begin later in the unit.

Step 12: Landmarks Introductory Activity: (5 min) Ask students if they know of any landmarks along the trail. Explain the significance of inscription rocks along the Oregon Trail and tell students that they will use an Idaho map to identify landmarks. Hand out journals. Have students turn to the Landmarks fill-in-the-blank fact sheet in the journal. Using the overhead, read the fact sheet out loud. Students should follow along. Divide the class into six groups of four students. Have each group find landmarks on the map in order to fill in the blanks on the fact sheet. Ask students to volunteer to read answers found on the map.

Step 13: Inscription Rock Art Activity Demonstrate art activity by forming the clay around a Styrofoam ball. Using a toothpick, the carve in the clay. Distribute art materials to the class. Have students create an inscription rock. Collect journals and tells students they will share their rocks the following day. Remind students that they will also write the script for the television spot the following day. Ask students to watch three commercials on television to get ideas to share with the class.

POST VIEWING ACTIVITIES

CULMINATING ACTIVITY
Step 1: Television Spot Introductory Activity: (5 min) Have students spend a few minutes viewing inscription rocks that are displayed on a back table. Have the class discuss the pros and cons of television spots and the types of descriptive language used in the spots to convince people to try a product or idea. Tell the class they will use the Internet to compile their final list of facts of their Oregon Trail journey.

Step 2: FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION (Internet) - Fantastic Facts Have the students turn to the Fantastic Facts fill-in-the- blank fact sheet in the journal. Divide the class into six groups of four students. Have each group look up information on the Web site in order to record three fantastic facts on the fact sheet.

Step 3: Television Spot Pre-production Have each of the six groups turn to television spot worksheet in the journal. Using information accumulated in the journal, have students compile a list of 10 facts about the Oregon Trail journey. Have three groups write a rough draft script of a 30 second television spot persuading people to not travel the Oregon Trail. Have the other three groups write a rough draft script of a 30 second television spot persuading people to travel the Oregon Trail. Students should use a stop watch to assure their spot is about 30 seconds. Have students make a list of props to be used in the spot and decide how to dramatize the message.

Step 4: Television Spot Introductory Activity: (5 min) Explain to students that they will spend 30 minutes to finalize script and rehearse spot. The remaining 30 minutewill be spent videotaping the spot. Hand out journals. Have students finalize the script, prepare the props, and the costumes and rehearse television spots. Videotape each groups 30 second spots.

Step 5: Television Advertisement Production Collect journals and tell students they will watch the television spots the following day.

EXTENSIONS

Literature/Creative Writing:
Teacher reads journal entries written by a young pioneer girl. Students write their own journal entries.

Media:
Students view video clips to find information on the Oregon Trail. Drama: Students write a script and produce a television spot.

Math:
Students compare 1849 prices to 2001 prices. Students compute how many steps it would take to walk the Trail.

Art:
Students use clay to mold an inscription rock.

Community Connections:
The teacher can add the following community connections to the Oregon Trail unit. Invite an historian to discuss the Oregon Trail.Invite a Native American to discuss the Native American perspective of the Oregon Trail.Take a field trip to an Oregon Trail monument or museum. Invite parents and other classes to view student-made television spots.


For additional lesson plans and ideas relating to this topic and many others try TeacherSource at PBS Online! You will find activities, lesson plans, teacher guides and links to other great educational web sites! Search the database by keyword, grade level or subject area! Mathline and Scienceline are also great resources for teachers seeking teaching tips, lesson plans, assessment methods, professional development, and much more!


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