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Adam Agree

Geography Lesson Plan

Unit Topic: Reconstruction

Lesson: Varying Perspectives on the Transcontinental Railroad
Rationale for the Lesson: One of the greatest and most
groundbreaking achievements of the Reconstruction Era was the
completion of the transcontinental railroad. This was an innovation that
changed the United States in many ways. It allowed for greater
economic prosperity and caused a great migration west. This lesson
will provide the students the opportunity to explore different
perspectives of the railroad and experience it through somebody elses
shoes. Historical empathy can be created and students may see the
events in a different light.
NJ Standards
o 6.1.12.D.4.d: Relate conflicting political, economic, social,
and sectional perspectives on Reconstruction to the
resistance of some Southern individuals and states
Common Core
o CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.7: Integrate and evaluate multiple
sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g.,
visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question
or solve a problem.
NCSS Themes
o Theme 4: Individual Development and Identity
Essential Question:
How do varying perspectives lead to different experiences of the
same event?
Students will understand different perspectives about the
transcontinental railroad in the 1860s.
Be able to analyze maps and other primary documents critically.
Lesson Opener:
Do Now:
o What do YOU think the most significant thing about
building a transcontinental railroad would be in the

o The students will see that question when they walk into
class and will have the first few minutes to think about it
and write and answer down.
Step-by-Step Process:
Time Teacher will:
Instruct the students to write an
answer to the Do Now question
on the board.
Ask to hear a few of the students
answers to the Do Now.

Students will:
Think about and answer the Do Now
Share their answers with the class

Explain the lesson for the day and

split the class into 6 pre-selected
groups. Answer any clarifying
questions about the lesson.

Students split into 6 groups. Each group

representing one of the following people;
Chinese immigrant worker, freed African
American worker, Irish immigrant worker,
Native American being forced off land,
White business owner in New York, Railroad
owner in California.


Circulate the classroom making

sure that the students stay on task
and answering any questions the
students may have.

Research what life was like and what a

likely goal for the railroad would be for
their person. They will have to look at
maps to find out where they would have
likely been building (from where to where),
what company they work for, and primary
source accounts from somebody in their
position about daily life.


Allow each of the groups to share Based on their research the groups will
what they have found with the give a short 2 minute presentation about
what they found:
--Where they were.
--Who they worked for (or what business
they owned)
--What their everyday life was like (with
relation to the railroad)
--What their ultimate goal was for the
railroad (or their association with it)
--How much money they made from the


Explain the homework to the class Write down the homework and ask any
and answer any questions about clarifying questions.
the lesson or the homework.
Pass out exit cards.
Fill out exit cards with three things they
learned about somebody other than their
groups person.
Lesson Closure:
Exit card
o The students will fill out an exit card with three things that
they learned about a different historical character than
their own.
o This will help assess whether or not the presentations at
the end of the lesson were effective.
Materials and Equipment Needed:
This lesson will be conducted in a computer lab or with laptops
connected to the Internet.

The students will write a paper (1-2 pages) summarizing the life
of the character that they researched in class. It will be a note
written from the person to a loved one explaining what their daily
life is and what their aspirations are with the railroad.
I will assess the students learning in a number of ways during
this lesson:
o The brief group presentations in class will help me evaluate
if they have a good grasp on their characters life.
o The exit card will help me evaluate how well the other
groups presentations informed them about the other
o The essay for homework will finally allow me to assess
whether or not each individual fully understands the
perspective of the character they were researching.
Modifications for Diverse Learners:
The groups and the characters will be hand selected by me prior
to class. This will allow me to customize these things to help
diverse learners feel comfortable and capable throughout the
lessons research activity.

I will also be monitoring and circulating the class during the

activity so I will be able to help those who need it.