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GO WEST YOUNG MAN!
An American History Webquest on Western Expansion

A group of Mormons migrating westward in wagons.

  INTRODUCTION    TASK    BACKGROUND    PROCESS      

EVALUATION    CONCLUSION    CREDITS FOR IMAGES AND RUBRIC MODEL

LESSON OVERVIEW FOR TEACHERS


INTRODUCTION:   

Why should I "go west," you may ask?  Where should I go?  How should I get there?  Well, rest assured, Mr. Goldberg is not going to make you go anywhere. Instead, he is going to require you to convince someone else to move west!  However, imagine that you are already living in the west in the mid-nineteenth century.  Envision a place where newly arrived settlers can start a new life or make a fortune.  Maybe you are trying to encourage a relative to join you to find gold, or develop a large farm, or ranch cattle, or build a railroad.  Now, you might be thinking, this is a piece of cake.  Well, you certainly are capable of being individually persuasive; but, to truly make a thorough, convincing case, you will collaborate with other family members to "move" even the most hesitant of relatives.

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TASK:

What convinced people to move to the American 
west in the mid-nineteenth century?

In particular, to explain and reinforce why a cousin should move west, you will work in family groups of three.  Family member one will need to convince your cousin to leave where he currently lives.  After your cousin's interest has been piqued, family member two must convince him that where you all are living is the place to be.  Finally, family member three will document the journey your cousin should take to make it to his new home.  Fellow students as well as the teacher will take the position of the cousin to evaluate how persuasive, coordinated and accurate your family presentation is.


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BACKGROUND:  

"Go West, young man," Indiana newspaper writer John Soule's 1851 advice, would be popularized by Horace Greeley and serve as the mantra for nineteenth Century American migration.  Continuing the trend of westward expansion to the Appalachian Mountains in the eighteenth century, United States citizens as well as immigrants would migrate all the way to the Pacific Ocean by the mid-nineteenth century.  From why people decided to move to how they would transform the places that they settled, western movement was a landmark phenomenon in American history.  Besides studying how racial minorities were oppressed by this movement, we now will focus on the experiences of the European descendents who settled the west.   

Emmanuel Leutze, "Westward the Course of Empire"(1861).

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PROCESS:  

As a reminder, your group will be divided into three family members living in the mid-nineteenth century American west.  Your overall task is to convince a cousin to join you out west.  Your family will work incrementally to build up a compelling, informative case.  

As a group:

 

Individually:

Family member one will relate why it was such a good decision for your nationality, ethnicity and/or religion to migrate from an eastern location in the United States or emigrate from Western Europe to a western location.  You will not explain why the western location is so wonderful because that will be family member two's responsibility.  However, to ensure that the migration or emigration from one location is historically plausible, you will have to: 

 

Family member two, next, will explain why the cousin should move to where your family settled.  In particular:

 

Family member three, lastly, will provide directions to the cousin necessary to travel to your western location.  In particular:

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EVALUATION: 

There are two components to the evaluation.  The individual component is worth 30 pts. and the group component is worth 30 pts.  Below is the rubric for each of these components as well some clarifications on how to read each rubric.  

 

Go West Young Man: Individual Grade 
(30 pts.- 10/category) 


Teacher name: Mr. Goldberg

Student Name ___________________

The color within each of the three category boxes corresponds to all or one of the family roles:

Green - all family members

Purple - family member one

Red - family member two

Orange - family member three

For clarification, the second category has slightly different meanings depending on the family member. 

Family member one should have a "well-constructed" oral proposal.

Family member two and family member three should have a "well-constructed" visual chart and map and timetable respectively.


CATEGORY 10 - I am going west immediately! 9 - I am leaning towards going. 8 - I am still hesitant to move. 7 - I have serious reservations.
Research Thorough notes are based on linked resources, neatly organized and cited properly. Thorough notes are based on linked resources, fairly organized and mostly cited properly. Good notes are based on linked resources, somewhat organized and somewhat cited properly. Notes are related to linked resources, but lack considerable organization and citation.
Proposal

Chart

Map and Timetable

Information is extremely organized and well-constructed. Information is organized and well-constructed. Information is organized, but not well-constructed. The information appears to be disorganized and poorly constructed.
Diary

Letter

Inventory

 

Writing makes thorough, logical connections and incorporates numerous supporting details and/or examples. Writing makes informative, logical connections and incorporates a few supporting details and/or examples. Writing makes informative, clear connections and provides some specific support. Writing makes some connections but lacks considerable support.


 

Go West Young Man: Group Grade 
(30 pts.- 10/category) 


Teacher name: Mr. Goldberg

Student Name ___________________

The teacher 
will grade
the "Revised" category.
Each class peer will record grades for coordination and persuasiveness.  The teacher will take the average of all the individual grades to determine the ultimate grade for the "Coordinated" and "Persuasive" categories.


CATEGORY 10 - I am going west immediately! 9 - I am leaning towards going. 8 - I am still hesitant to move. 7 - I have serious reservations.
Revised Group members shared constructive criticism and incorporated peer suggestions into a polished, accurate final product. Group members shared perspectives and incorporated peer suggestions in an accurate final product. Group members shared perspectives and incorporated peer suggestions in a mostly accurate final product. Group members made minor modifications to create a mostly accurate final product.
Coordinated

 

 

Information is extremely organized and well-constructed. Information is organized and well-constructed. Information is organized, but not well-constructed. The information appears to be disorganized and poorly constructed.
Persuasive Writing makes thorough, logical connections and incorporates numerous supporting details and/or examples. Writing makes informative, logical connections and incorporates a few supporting details and/or examples. Writing makes informative, clear connections and provides some specific support. Writing makes some connections but lacks considerable support.

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CONCLUSION: 

You have recounted one of the ways that people populated the western United States in the mid-nineteenth century.  Moreover, by evaluating your peers' stories, you have gained an appreciation for the diversity of western movement.  Hopefully, you now have a much clearer picture of why so many people did heed the call to "Go West Young Man."  However, this project only scratched the surface of the western experience.  What about those people who moved west but became disillusioned?  What about the perspectives of the Native Americans, Mexican-Americans and African-Americans? As we continue to study American history, we will compare and contrast these perspectives to develop a better understanding of America's development.

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CREDITS FOR IMAGES AND RUBRIC MODEL
Leutze, Emmanuel. "Westward the Course of Empire." [Online Image]  3 September 2002.
     <http://home.earthlink.net/~gfeldmeth/lec.mandest.html>.
National Archives.  "A Mormon Wagon Train On Its Way To Utah." [Online Image]  3 September
    
2002.  <http://www.pbs.org/weta/thewest/resources/archives/two/62_10.htm>.
The University of Kansas. "Rubistar."  [Online]  3 September 2002.
     <
http://rubistar.4teachers.org/>.

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INTRODUCTION    TASK    BACKGROUND    PROCESS      

EVALUATION    CONCLUSION    CREDITS FOR IMAGES AND RUBRIC MODEL

LESSON OVERVIEW FOR TEACHERS

Created By:
Brad Goldberg

8th Grade Social Studies Teacher
Humanities and Communications Magnet Program
Eastern Middle School


Last updated June 23, 2003