Teacher's Guide

GOLD MINING

Theme

     The unit Gold Mining uses historic primary source materials (link) to help students go back in time to understand how gold was mined. The activities are organized around three questions: How do I get the gold? What was a gold miner like? Is that legal? Students explore photographs and actual manuals from the Alaska gold rush era for clues about the rigors of gold mining. Students consider how laws change over time to reflect the needs and attitudes of the people.

Alaska State Content Standards

     Alaska State Content Standards addressed in Gold Mining: Students should:

  • Know that cultural elements, including language, literature, the arts, customs and belief systems, reflect the ideas and attitudes of a specific time and know how the cultural elements influence human interaction (History: A6)
  • Recognize bias in all forms of communication (Eng/L.A: E3)
  • Understand how and why maps are changing documents (Geo: A3)
  • Analyze how places are formed, identified, named and characterized (Geo: B2)
  • Recognize and assess local, regional and global patterns of resource use (Geo: E2)
  • Understand the necessity and purpose of government (Gov/Civ: A1)
  • Understand the basic concepts of supply and demand, the market system and profit (Gov/Civ: F5)
Getting Started

     Two excellent hands-on activities are highly recommended for this unit. Visit the AMEREF website for the Alaska Resources Kit: Minerals and Mining. Go to the Curriculum Modules. Use Adobe Acrobat Reader to open and print out two activities for your classroom that help students understand the gold mining process: Getting the Gold (pages 40-43) and Stake a Claim (pages 44-47) Allow 1-2 hours for each of these activities.

Classroom Extension Ideas for the theme Gold Mining

Question 1: How do I get the gold?

  • You may wish to print out the miners manual "Gold Dust: How to Find it and How to Mine it "  as a reference for your classroom. It shows the type of information available to the Alaska gold seeker in 1898.
  • Explore web sites that provide additional help in understanding gold mining. Video pan for gold.
  • Ask students to compare what they are learning about Alaska's gold rush with other gold rushes, such as the California gold rush. Students may keep a chart of things that were the same and things that were different. (Similar characteristics might include: placer mining, men, traveling from other places, etc.)

Question 2: What was a gold miner like?

  • Encourage students to brainstorm their ideas about miners before starting the activities in this section. Help them understand bias and stereotypes by comparing their initial ideas with what they discovered after reading the various documents.
  • Who profited from gold mines?
    • Help your students uncover the clues that the four documents reveal.
    • Step 1: Print out copies of the four documents. Divide the class into four teams. Each team is given one document and must try to list as many things as they can about the people, places and events in the document.
    • Step 2: Teams share what they have learned from their document.
    • Step 3: Ask each student to write down what they think the story might have been. (A reasonable answer would include the facts that Mr. Pine bought additional stock after the letter was sent. Inferences might include that the meeting was very successfully and the stockholders were convinced that the company was going to earn money in the future.)
    • Step 4: Students may enjoy creating a story about the mining company with information about where the gold was discovered, how it was mined and how the stockholders benefited. Or perhaps the students think the company was not successful and that the stockholders lost all of their money.
    • This activity helps students better understand the economic system where shareholders can profit from a company without being involved in the daily work.
    • Have students explore the stock market system through Alaska Native Corporations or the Alaska Permanent Fund.
Assessing Student Learning: Gold Mining

This overview of selected standards and activities uses Delia's Dilemma (from Question 3: Is that legal?) to help you evaluate how well the students are mastering the standards. This example can help you design appropriate projects or other activities that demonstrate standards-based learning. For additional assessment ideas see Assessment and Scoring Guide model.

Assessing student progress toward standards: Example using activities in Delia's Dilemma

Standard:

Students who meet the standards demonstrate through discussion, writing or project:

Know that cultural elements, including language, literature, the arts, customs and belief systems, reflect the ideas and attitudes of a specific time and know how the cultural elements influence human interaction (History:A6)

Can discuss the 1890's attitudes about women and wives regarding the ownership of property. Students should be able to recognize that the laws have changed due to the belief system about women's rights in America today. Students should be able to extend the concept so that they understand differences in laws in other countries regarding women's rights reflect the current attitudes and belief systems in those countries (Students may research a country about the legal rights of women to own property.)

Recognize bias in all forms of communication (Eng.L.A.:E3)

Can articulate the personal point of view of Delia about ownership from her letter to the Governor; student is able to identify key phrases from the letter that show Delia's bias

Understand how and why maps are changing documents (Geo.:A3)

Can use one or more maps to predict with 2-3 logical reasons which route the Governor should choose for his reply letter.

Analyze how places are formed, identified, names and characterized (Geo.:B2)

Can make logical predicts about the way Circle City was named. (The miners thought they were above the arctic circle.)

Recognize and assess local, regional and global patterns of resource use (Geo.:E2)

Can make logical conclusions about why Delia's claim was being challenged by the other miners. (The claim had gold and was valuable.)

Understand the necessity and purpose of government (Geo.C:A1)

Can give 2-3 reasons why Delia's belief in the Miner's Association, law books, and letter to the Governor helps maintain order.

 


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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.