Academy Curricular Exchange
Columbia Education Center
Social Studies



TITLE:   Studying History through Journal Keeping

AUTHOR:    Robert F. Mulick; Lowell Scott Middle School, ID

GRADE LEVEL/SUBJECT:   8-12     History
I USE THE TOPIC OF THE OREGON TRAIL AS THE SELECTED JOURNAL
TOPIC.  THIS FITS MY 8TH GRADE CLASS.  NEXT YEAR U. S. HISTORY
WILL BE IN THE 9TH GRADE CORE, SO MY 9TH GRADE STUDENTS WILL
WORK ON THE JOURNAL.

OVERVIEW:
THIS ACTIVITY CAN BE LONG TERM (30 DAYS FROM START
TO TURN IN) OR IT CAN BE TAKEN APART AND USED OVER
ONE OR MORE DAYS.  IF YOU USE IT OVER A LONGER
TERM, CARE MUST BE TAKEN THAT CLASS TIME IS BOTH
SET ASIDE AND USED FOR PRODUCTION OF WORDS ON THE
PAGE.

PURPOSE:
MY LESSON IS A LONG TERM WRITING LESSON IN THE FORM
OF TWO JOURNAL ENTRIES.  IN MY STATEMENT OF REASONS
TO THE CLASS I STATE THAT MUCH OF WHAT WE KNOW
TODAY OF HISTORY IS THE RESULT OF PEOPLE KEEPING
JOURNALS.  THE SECOND PURPOSE IS TO HELP THE
STUDENT TO RELATE TO THE NEEDS, DREAM, AND
DIFFICULTIES PEOPLE LIKE THEMSELVES FACED GOING
WEST.  COULD THEY HAVE MADE THIS SAME TRIP?

OBJECTIVES: TO ENABLE THE STUDENT TO RELATE TO A PAST EVENT,
SO THAT A GREATER UNDERSTANDING OF THE PAST MIGHT
TAKE PLACE.  I ALSO HAVE HOPES THAT THROUGH THIS
ACTIVITY, THEY WILL DEVELOP SOME DEGREE OF
UNDERSTANDING THAT THE PEOPLE IN THE OLD DAYS AND
PEOPLE TODAY ARE BASICALLY THE SAME AND THAT MOST
OF THE DIFFERENCES ARE THE RESULT OF DIFFERENT
RESOURCES AVAILABLE TO EACH TIME PERIOD.

ACTIVITIES AND PROCEDURES: 
THE STUDENT WILL GATHER INFORMATION FROM READING
EXCERPTS OF JOURNALS AND SEEING HOW THEY RELATE TO
THE SAME TIME SPAN AND EXPERIENCE AS WRITTEN BY
CHILDREN OR WOMEN, WHO MADE THE TRIP. (SEE
MATERIALS NEEDED SECTION.)  THEY WILL ALSO VIEW A
TWO PART VIDEO DEALING WITH ONE FAMILY'S TRIP WEST. 
THESE TWO ACTIVITIES WILL HELP FORM AN IDEA BANK
FROM WHICH THEY CAN DRAW UPON FOR THEIR WRITING
EFFORT.  STUDENTS WILL WRITE EQUIPMENT LISTS, DAILY
ENTRIES TO REFLECT LIFE ON THE TRAIL.  THE IDEAS
FOR DAILY ENTRIES CAN BE STUDENT OR TEACHER
GENERATED. 

STUDENTS WILL WORK BY THEMSELVES OR IN GROUPS AND
CAN SHARE WITH EACH OTHER BY READING ALOUD SELECTED
ENTRIES.  THEY WILL ALSO WRITE THE RULES OF CONDUCT
FOR THE TRAIN MEMBERSHIP.  (STRIVE TO KEEP THESE
RULES CONSTITUTIONAL AS OF 1845 AND NOT OF TODAY.) 
I MAKE USE OF VERY SHORT (10\'a915 MINUTE) CLASS TIME
UNITS.  WHILE WE ARE WORKING ON THE JOURNALS, WE
WILL BE ALSO WORKING ON OTHER TOPICS IN OUR HISTORY
COURSE.  WE SHIFT GEARS EVERY DAY.  I DO A VERY
LONG ACTIVITY.

RESOURCES/MATERIALS:
THIS WILL VARY TO FIT YOUR TOPIC, BUT THE FOLLOWING IS
A LIST OF THE RESOURCES I HAVE MADE USE OF:
    1.   CAN YOU FIND AN REENACTMENT GROUP (MOUNTAIN
MAN) OR A BLACK POWDER SHOOTER TO SHOW OFF THE
WEAPONS OF THE 1840's .
    2.   I USE THE VIDEO, "LISA PIONEER JOURNEY", TO
INTRODUCE LIFE ON A WAGON TRAIN.
    3.   I DISPLAY A WALL DISPLAY OF NATIONAL
GEOGRAPHIC, AUG. '86.
    4.   I DISPLAY A MAP OF THE OREGON TRAIL PUT OUT BY
THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE.
    5.   DISPLAY OF CAST IRON COOKING GEAR.
    6.   DISPLAY OF LEG HOLD TRAPS AND A TWO MAN CROSS
CUT SAW.
    7.   BLACKBOARD FOR GROUP LISTING OF SUPPLY ITEMS
NEED FOR TRIP.  MAKE SURE THE STUDENTS STAY
WITH FOOD OF THE 1840's.
    8.   SUPPLY LIST OF ALL GOODS (FOODS & SUPPLIES) 
FOR LIFE ON THE TRAIL AND AFTER TO BE LIMITED
TO 2500 LBS PER WAGON.  STUDENTS HAVE TO
DECLARE, WHO THEY ARE AND HOW THEY PLAN TO
EARN THEIR LIVING ONCE OUT WEST.  THUS THEY
CAN THEN DEVELOP A MORE DETAILED SUPPLY LIST.

I SUPPLY A LIST OF EVENTS, WHICH CAN E USED AS
A GUIDE FOR THE STUDENT JOURNAL ENTRIES.  I
DON'T WANT A LOT OF KILLING OF EITHER INDIANS
OR EACH OTHER.  I ALSO HAVE THE STUDENTS MAKE
UP A PLAN OF ONE DAYS MEALS, SUPPLIES USED FOR
ONE DAY.  WE THEN RE-LOOK AT THEIR SUPPLY LIST
AND REDO IT, BUT STILL KEEP THE WEIGHT LIMIT.

THIS SAME ACTIVITY CAN BE FOUND IN A COMPUTER
PROGRAM.  MY STUDENTS, WHO HAVE THE PROGRAM,
TOLD ME THAT ON THE COMPUTER THEY COULD DO THE
SUPPLY LIST AND THE FULL TRIP WEST IN ABOUT
TWO HOURS.

TYING IT ALL TOGETHER:  
HAND IN THE FINISHED JOURNAL.  I CALL
FOR ALL ROUGH COPY PAGES TO BE ATTACHED TO THE
FINAL COPY TO REDUCE THE STUDENT FROM FIRST COPY
EQUAL FINAL COPIES.  I ALSO HAVE THE STUDENT MARK
WHAT THEY THINK IS THEIR BEST ENTRY.  BEFORE I
RETURN THE GRADED JOURNAL, I READ FROM SELECTED
PAPER ALOUD TO THE CLASS WITHOUT TELLING WHO'S
PAPER IT IS.  I HAVE FOUND THAT THE RESULT WILL
RANGE FROM THE BASIC RE-COPY OF MY SUGGESTED TOPICS
TO SOME THAT READ LIKE A SOAP OPERA.


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John Kurilecjmk@ofcn.org