Westward Expansion
To go or not to go... that is the question!

A WebQuest for 5th Grade (Social Studies )

Designed by

Christina Prindle, Colleen Fitzgerald, Tyler Christensen

 

 

Introduction | Task | Process | Evaluation | Conclusion | Credits | Teacher Page

 

 


Introduction

The year is 1855. You are currently a successful merchant in New England. However, you have always dreamt of striking it rich and the land of opportunity is out West. To go or not to go, that is the question. Your task is to decide whether or not it will be beneficial to you and your family to pack up shop and head West.
You will accomplish this task by learning about merchants of the day and the likelihood of growing wealthy where you're at or if you'll have to move. You shouldn't take the gamble and head out without understanding what you'll need for the trip (supplies), how long and far you'll travel (all the way to California?), and how to prepare for the obstacles you'll encounter (weather, Native Americans, etc.).

You will work in groups of five to present a case to stay or go. You have ten minutes to present a PowerPoint to the class. Good luck and giddee up!

 

The Task

Each group is assigned five roles:

    1. The Mover and shaker
    2. The Pessimist
    3. The Trailblazer
    4. The Shopkeeper

With your group do on-line research and create a ten minute PowerPoint presentation describing whether you're staying or going and why.
 

The Process

Together, you will be working to study different aspects of the westward migration: the trail, the reasons for traveling, the obstacles that were faced by the pioneers, and what they needed to take for survival on the trail.

You should also study those who stayed behind: what businesses were successful, where are the best places to live, and other things.

   
 

Step 1: Decide which group member will play each role.

   
 

Mover and Shaker. This person will decide which supplies are needed for the trek, how to store those supplies, and how much it will cost.

     
 

The Pessimist. This person prepares for the obstacles that will be faced on the trek. Think about the weather, what people or animals you might encounter, and other potential obstacles (leave food to the mover and shaker and transportation to the engineer).
     
  The Trailblazer. This person maps out the journey. Decided how long you'll be traveling, how far you'll go (final destination), and how you'll get there (ox cart, hand cart, boat, etc.).
     
  The Shopkeeper. You're the one staying behind. Find out how businesses are doing in the East. Where is the best place to live, best job to have, etc.
       
 

Step 2: Individually follow links below to learn about your assigned topic. Take notes on your findings.
   
 


Step 3:
As a group discuss your findings and decide if you are staying put or going west. Do this by creating a list of Pros and Cons with each member of the group contributing to the list.

   
 
Step 4:
As a group create a ten minute PowerPoint presentation to show the class why you have decided to stay or go.

   
 

Step 5
: Present PowerPoint to class.

   
  Websites to Visit

Experience Oregon History

The Oregon Trail

Travel Information

On To Oregon!

Prairie Schooners

Links To Trails West

Pioneers
   
 

 

   



Evaluation

         
CATEGORY 4 3 2 1
Delegation of Responsibility Each student in the group can clearly explain what information is needed by the group, what information s/he is responsible for locating, and when the information is needed. Each student in the group can clearly explain what information s/he is responsible for locating. Each student in the group can, with minimal prompting from peers, clearly explain what information s/he is responsible for locating. One or more students in the group cannot clearly explain what information they are responsible for locating.
PowerPoint Presentation Each student presents at least 2 minutes of information related to his/her portion of the project. The Presentation is presented by all members of the group equally. Each student presents for at least two minutes during the PowerPoint presentation; however, one or two students have more information to present than the other students. 3 of the 4 students presents for at least two minutes during the PowerPoint presentation. The presentation does not show that all group members have researched and provided equal information for the project. The PowerPoint presentation is less than 8 minutes. Some group members present for more than 2 minutes; while others present for less than a minute, indicating unequal delegation of project responsibility.
Plan for Organizing Information Students have developed a clear plan for organizing the information as it is gathered and in the final research product. All students can independently explain the planned organization of the research findings. Students have developed a clear plan for organizing the information in the final research product. All students can independently explain this plan. Students have developed a clear plan for organizing the information as it is gathered. All students can independently explain most of this plan. Students have no clear plan for organizing the information AND/OR students in the group cannot explain their organizational plan.
Quality of Sources Researchers independently locate at least 1 reliable, interesting information source for EACH of their ideas or questions. Researchers independently locate at least 1 reliable information source for EACH of their ideas or questions. Researchers, with some adult help, locate at least 1 reliable information source for EACH of their ideas or questions. Researchers, with extensive adult help, locate at least 1 reliable information source for EACH of their ideas or questions.



Conclusion

So what do you now know about Westward Expansion? Why would you have gone... or stayed? This activity should have increased your awareness about the expansion and what happened during that time period. Have a nice day.



Credits & References

All clip art came from Microsoft's free clipart


Last updated on December 15, 2005 by Tyler. Based on a template from The WebQuest Page