Part I: Manifest Destiny and California (continued)

Student Learnings:

a. Students will learn about the people who came to California as a result of the Gold Rush. 

b. Students will examine the myths and realities of California prior to 1848, of the California Gold Rush and of California today. 

c. Students will examine the beliefs of Manifest Destiny and its role in the California Gold Rush. 

d. Students will give their opinions on what brought people to California during the Gold Rush. 

e. Students will use primary sources to gather and evaluate historical evidence about the realities of the Gold Rush. 

A Brief Look at the Lessons:

Lesson 1 is a motivational game designed to have students experience the excitement and lure of instant wealth, along with the reality of the distribution of that wealth. The whole class evaluates the activity. Modifications are made as later classes arrive and word spreads. Students write in their journals. 

Lesson 2 has students create a poster of what people think California means today. This activity is designed to unearth some of the myths that exist about California. This assignment can be given prior to beginning Lesson 2, with students surveying peers, relatives and friends. Class time is spent sharing the posters in groups and, as a class, exploring which ideas are connected to facts and reality and which are better classified as myths. Students record a few of California's current myths and realities. 

The second part of this lesson is designed to tap into the knowledge that students already have about the Gold Rush. Groups brainstorm, record their prior knowledge on chart paper and report to the class. Partners recall and jot down their prior knowledge in their journals. 

Lesson 3 looks at some of the myths of California from the past. Students will examine primary sources from the early 16th century in English and Spanish, as well as a 17th-century map. A contemporary secondary source lists various ways of referring to California. Students will explore what people might have thought California was going to be like when they arrived in 1800. 

Students record thoughts in their journals. 

Lesson 4 examines the beliefs and values of Manifest Destiny. A timeline is provided for a quick review of events leading to 1848. Student groups do a vocabulary guesswork activity. The painting The Progress of America is analyzed by student groups for glimpses of the beliefs and values of the mid-19th century. A contemporary historian's thoughts on the ways Euro-Americans viewed the culture of Native Americans imply the question Whose land was it? Students conclude by writing a journal entry from the point of view of a person defending the values and beliefs of Manifest Destiny. 

Lesson 5 provides students with an array of visual and written primary sources. Student groups use these to discover the reality of who was in California prior to 1848. What did California look like prior to 1848? Who came as a result of the Gold Rush? How did people get to California during the Gold Rush? What was the reality of the Gold Rush? Students record information on a graphic organizer and then, as a class, connect the myths of the Gold Rush to the reality, exploring connections to today. A variety of student performance-based activities can use these primary sources. 

Part I, Overview 
Page 2