A unit plan for teaching the "Lewis and Clark" student activity that explores Lewis and Clark's exciting journey west from 1803 to 1806.
- Use Web technology to access information on the explorations of Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery
- Make decisions on what skills, tools, and supplies would be needed to go on a journey like Lewis and Clark's 3. Participate in active writing activities and peer review
- Use technology tools to synthesize information and communicate that knowledge
- Investigate change over time to gain perspective on the successes of the Lewis and Clark journey
- Write a first person journal as if they were in the Corps of Discovery
- Interpret information from maps through historical and current map comparisons
- Develop an understanding of the Native American cultures encountered by Lewis and Clark and how they assisted the Corps of Discovery
- Identify and analyze dates and the passage of time
- Demonstrates comprehension through experiential response
Set Up and Prepare
- Before you begin the unit on Lewis & Clark, assign the Prepare for the Journey section as homework.
- Direct the students to the articles and quiz online or have printouts for them to read and fill out at home.
Begin a discussion about the Lewis & Clark journey by asking students what they learned about the articles they have read for homework. Make two lists on the board: cause and effect. Have students list people and events that allowed the Lewis and Clark journey to happen. Then have students list effects the journey had on the United States at the time, the United States today, and Native American cultures. (See Discussion Starters below.)
Tell students that they will be going on their own journey, following Lewis & Clark and also making virtual visits to the trail today, but first they must make their own preparations for the journey. As a class, make a list of responsibilities they, as students, have in the classroom but also on the journey. These responsibilities could include: being responsible for your work, finishing tasks on time, coming to class on time, etc. They should also include responsibilities specific to Lewis and Clark: being a leader, packing appropriate supplies for weather and geography, ensuring the safety of the team, etc.
Following the Journey
Print out the timeline graphic organizer (PDF) for each student.
Individually or in pairs, have each student by a computer. Introduce them to the home page of Lewis and Clark and explain that they are ready to start the journey in 1803. Direct them to the 1803 timeline and have them explore while filling out their graphic organizer.
As students explore the timelines, they will find the objects for the specimen box. Have them create a specimen box online and collect the objects, filling out the descriptive information as they go along. Instruct students to try and describe the object from several points of view. For example, how did Lewis and Clark view a buffalo compared to the way a local Native American would view it or even how we view buffalo today? Once they have completed their specimen box, have them print out the contents and place them in their decorated boxes.
The Trail Today
Throughout the year, Scholastic News student reporters will be writing articles on events celebrating Lewis and Clark. Have students read through these reports. You can come back periodically to see if new reports are added.
After students read about the events on the trail today, they are given a choice on either reporting on Lewis and Clark or writing a journal entry as if they were a member of the Corps of Discovery. For either writing assignment, have students focus on cause and effect-looking at how the Lewis and Clark journey has affected people, animals, and places till this day. They should also pay attention to the facts in their journals and articles and separate them from their opinions.
If students are writing a journal, have them pre-write, write, and edit their work offline. They should hand one copy to you before entering it into the Westward Expansion journal.
If students are writing the article, they should follow the directions in the "Be a Reporter" section, enter their headline, byline, and caption. They should fully research and write their article before printing out a copy for grading.
Supporting All LearnersLewis & Clark helps students meet the following standards Sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and the International Reading Association (IRA).
- Students read a wide range of print and non-print texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world. (1)
- Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions (7)
- Students use a variety of technological and informational resources (libraries, databases, computer. networks) to gather and synthesize information in order to create and communicate knowledge. (8)
- Students develop an understanding of and respect for diversity in language use, patterns, and dialects across cultures, ethnic groups, geographic regions, and social roles. (9)
- Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities. (11)
- Students use spoken, written, and visual language for learning, persuasion, and exchange of information. (12)
National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS):
Lewis & Clark meets the standards of the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), which promote the development of students as good citizens in a culturally diverse, interdependent world. The content and activities of this project are especially appropriate for the themes of:
- Culture: Students learn how to understand multiple perspectives that derive from different cultural vantage points.
- Time, Continuity, and Change: Students focus on how the world has changed in order to gain perspective on the present and the future.
- Individual Development and Identity: Students learn to ask questions such as "What influences how people learn, perceive, and grow?"
- People, Places, and Environments: Students utilize technological advances to connect to the world beyond their personal locations. The study of people, places, and human-environment interactions assists learners as they create their spatial views and geographic perspectives of the world.
- Civic Ideals and Practices: Students gain an understanding of the ideals, principles, and practices of citizenship in a democratic republic.
Technology Foundation Standards for Students:
- use technology tools to enhance learning, increase productivity, and promote creativity use technology tools to collaborate, publish, and interact with peers, experts, and other audiences
- use a variety of media and formats to communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences
- use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources
Lesson ExtensionsOnce their timeline graphic organizers are completed, as a class, students can create a large map or timeline following the journey of Lewis and Clark. Decorate with the specimen box objects as well as images they print off the Internet.
Cross Curricular Extensions
Journalism (Grades 5-8)
Research any local events having to do with Lewis and Clark. Have your students write a newspaper story on the event. Collect the articles and create a newspaper.
Language Arts (Grade 5-8)
Students write a story about the Lewis and Clark adventures from the point of view of one of the Native Americans encountered along the trail in 1804. Giving students this theme, have them write a story with characters, a plot, tone, and setting. Have them write a postscript to their story written by their character's great grandchildren.
- Why was it important to pick the right people to go on the journey with Lewis and Clark?
- What kind of leadership skills did they have?
- What kind of responsibilities did they share?
- What were some of the events and people who came together to make the Lewis and Clark journey happen? Why was it important that all these events happened?
- How is the American landscape different today than it was in the early 1800s?
- What are some of the changes in the lives of Native Americans?
- Do you think Lewis and Clark could have imagined some of these changes? Why?
- What are some of the differences between traveling 200 years ago and today?
- What would be a comparable journey today and how would you prepare for it?
- In 1806, Lewis and Clark came back to the United States to very little fanfare. Why do we celebrate their accomplishments today?
- What were some of the responsibilities Lewis and Clark took on as the leaders of the expedition?
- How do you think United States history would be different if Lewis and Clark had failed?
Formal Assessment Ideas
Have students go through the Be a Reporter activity from The Trail Today. Once they have researched and written their newspaper articles, print out the results for formal assessment.
Visit Writing with Writers for a news writing workshop where students can publish these reports online.
Project Assessment Ideas
Specimen Box of the Lewis & Clark Expedition
Have students add to their specimen box by collecting more objects. Using their completed timeline graphic organizer (PDF), have students research and find more discoveries made by Lewis and Clark. As they find images, they should print out the images and write descriptions, just as they did for the six objects provided in the online activity. Students will collect these objects in their box for a complete overview of the Lewis & Clark discoveries.
When students complete their boxes, you can publish your students' work posting them onto your class homepage.
Use the writing rubric as a way to assess your students' writing skills. This rubric can also serve as a model for a modified version that might include your state's writing standards.