Teacher's Guide

     Alaska's Gold website is written for students in grades 6-12. The Teacher guide provides classroom extension ideas, standards information and assessment examples.

Active Learning

     Standards-based learning should be active. Students should be able to see a connection between what they learn and what they experience in their lives. Use a variety of activities such as simulation or role-play, problem solving, demonstration and modeling, observation and journals, discussion activities, and project construction. Good standards-based instruction means: minimize lecture, make students think, talk and write, use questions that guide thinking toward the standard, use small group and cooperative learning, and match activities to student learning styles. See Alaska Social Studies Framework.


     The Alaska Social Studies Framework provides excellent background, ideas and models for assessment. Alaska's Gold includes a model or example for assessment in each theme. Our assessment tasks require students to respond with their own words or in some way demonstrate to others what they know specifically about identified standards. Scoring guides provide a tool to help students understand what is expected and how they can meet the requirements. A basic scoring guide uses three levels to identify progress toward the standard being address: Exceeds, Meets, Does not meet. See also the Pennsylvania Department of Education's Assessment and Testing Resource Materials webpage.

     Model of a generic three-level Scoring Guide. You can create a scoring guide for each unit by adding specific content from each standard you target.

Does not meet



Little or no understanding of _____

Unfocused organization

Little or no evidence that the student can use or understand _____

Incomplete work

Did not meet deadlines

Work is poorly presented (incorrect, messy, or missing significant parts)

Good understanding of _____ is demonstrated with 2-3 appropriate examples directly related to the work being discussed

General understanding of _____ being discussed and the student can provide personal reflection

Assignments complete and legible

Complete understanding of _____ is demonstrated with over 4 examples that strongly support the work being discussed.

Complete understanding of _____ being discussed and insightful personal reflection or connections to other work is evident.

Assignments are complete, legible and worthy of display to others.

Classroom Organization

     The web site activities are suitable for individual, small group or whole class work. Students can do the activities on the computer or materials can be printed out for large group instruction. Most materials can be duplicated onto a transparency for whole classroom discussion. Teachers should preview the activities and select the ones that meet the needs of your students and curriculum.

Curriculum Fit

     Alaska's Gold uses an interdisciplinary approach with web-based activities in history, social studies, geography, music, art, technology and English. Topics can be extended easily to include science, risk-taking and work skills. Each theme is aligned with Alaska Content standards to demonstrate how primary source documents can help students master and practice core curriculum requirements.

Activity Organization and Time Required

     A variety of primary source materials are grouped by three questions in each of the five themes. Individual documents can be used in any order. Allow about 15 to 45 minutes per activity. Themes can be completed in approximately 5 hours of classroom time. Additional time is needed for outside research, extra discussion, follow-up activities and assessments.

     The Edgren Saga is presented in five parts and the documents in each chapter are arranged to match one of the five themes. The Edgren Saga can be used as either a stand-alone activity or as an assessment activity.

Reading Tips

     The website is designed for students in grades 6-12. The photographs, objects and non-standard written material in these web-based activities make them very motivating for students at many reading levels. Students can practice important reading strategies with primary source documents such as using context clues, relying on prior knowledge, staying focused on one task, and evaluating what is read. Primary source documents frequently need two people to help decipher them. Sometimes by piecing the documents together like a puzzle the meaning becomes more clear.

Reading Handwritten Materials

     Help the students develop a strategy for reading handwritten materials.

     Skim the letter to get a general sense about the main idea.

     Look for punctuation and capitalization that helps identify a sentence or thought.

     Don't worry about reading every word the first time through. Try to get the feeling and tone of the letter. Skip the words you can't figure out and see if you can logically identify them from the context (how everything fits together).

     Classroom Activity: Ask each student to use cursive and write a brief note about some easy topic (a food they've eaten, a place they like to visit, etc.) Exchange the notes and ask other students to decipher them. Repeat until the students are comfortable reading a variety of handwriting styles and have practiced enough to develop a strategy.

Resources for Alaska History

     A good Alaska history textbook is recommended for classroom background and research. Links are provided in the website for background information on selected topics. For more in-depth information we recommend using additional sources.

  • Alaska's History: The People, Land and Events of the North Country by Harry Ritter. (1997 fourth printing). Alaska Northwest Books, Seattle, WA. ISBN0-88240-432-6

  • Alaska: A History of the 49th State by Claus-M. Naske and Herman E. Slotnick. (1979). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. ISBN 0-8061-2573-X

  • An Alaska Anthology: Interpreting the Past edited by Stephen Haycox and Mary Childers Mangusso. (1996) University of Washington Press. ISBN 0-295-97495-8

  • Children of the Gold Rush by Claire Rudolf Murphy & Jane Haigh. (1999) Roberts Rinehart Publishers, Boulder, CO ISBN 1-57098-257-0

  • Gold Rush Women by Claire Rudolf Murphy & Jane Haigh. (1997) Alaska Northwest Books, Seattle, WA. ISBN 0-88240-484-9

  • One Man's Gold Rush by Murray Morgan. (1995) Seattle: University of Washington Press.

  • The Streets Were Paved with Gold by Stan Cohen. (1986) Missoula, Montana; Pictorial Histories Publishing Co. Also available on videotape.

  • Women of the Klondike by Frances Backhouse. (1998) Whitecap Books, Vancouver, Canada. ISBN 1-55110-375-


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Alaska's Gold was developed through a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission by the Division of Libraries, Archives and Museums, the Alaska Dept. of Education and Early Development.  1999.  All rights reserved.   Alaska Gold Themes written by Cristine Crooks, Alaska Consultants in Education.  Alaska's Gold Themes website developed by WEBDesign.