School Improvement in Maryland

Lesson Seeds: The lesson seeds are ideas for the indicator/objective that can be used to build a lesson. Lesson seeds are not meant to be all-inclusive, nor are they substitutes for instruction.

Standard 5.0 History

Topic B. Emergence, Expansion and Changes in Nations and Empires

Indicator 4. Analyze patterns of immigration to the United States before 1877

Objective b. Analyze the consequences of the rapid settlement of California and Oregon

To help students understand the difficulties created by the rapid settlement of California during the Gold Rush, ask students to suggest some of the problems that might be created by thousands of mostly young men suddenly rushing to a sparsely settled region to get rich quick. What do they think life might be like in such a place? Next have the students read accounts of California during the Gold Rush (such as those found at the Library of Congress’s American Memory Web site), using the following focus question to guide their reading: How would you characterize California’s society during the Gold Rush? Discuss as a class and be sure students can justify their ideas. Next, ask students to think about some of the institutions and systems that might be established in California to help impose law and order (laws, police and courts to enforce laws, schools, churches, governing body, introduction of more families, schools, etc.) Ask students to pretend that they are concerned citizens living in a mining boomtown plagued by lawlessness. Divide students into small groups to represent “town councils” and direct them to draft a set of laws to help institute law and order. Remind students to consider such issues as mining rights and regulations, political process and organization, crime and punishment, etc. Have groups share their laws with the class.

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Resources for Objective 5.B.4.b:
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