Teacher's Guide

TRAVELING TO THE GOLD FIELDS

Theme

     The unit Traveling to the Gold Fields uses thought-provoking questions to lead students back in time to explore what it was like during the Alaska gold rush period, 1880-1914. From photographs, newspapers, maps, government letters and steamship logs students evaluate what it was like to undertake a dangerous journey.

     Alaska State Content Standards addressed in Travel. Students will be able to:

  • Use appropriate technology to access, retrieve, organize and present historical information (History: C1)
  • Use historical data from a variety of primary resources (History: C2)
  • Be able to think logically and reflectively in order to present and explain positions based on relevant and reliable information (Eng/L.A.:D1)
  • Evaluate content from the speaker's or author's perspective (Eng/L.A.:E2)
  • Analyze the consequences of human modification of the environment and evaluate the changing landscape (Geo: E5)
  • Evaluate the impact of physical hazards on human systems (Geo: E6)
  • Be aware that economic systems determine how resources are used to produce and distribute goods and services (Gov/Civ: F2)
  • Understand the basic concepts of supply and demand, the market system and profit (Gov/Civ: F5)
Additional Resources for Travel
Getting Started

     Before students begin the activities, brainstorm what they already know about travel during the Alaska gold rush era, 1880-1914. As a class or individually, create a topographical map that shows the terrain in Alaska. Highlight the gold rushes that you have already studied. (If you did the Discovery unit students should be familiar with Pedro Creek, Juneau, and the Klondike.)

Classroom Extension Ideas for the theme Travel

Question 1: What do I need for a trip to the gold fields?

  • Where can you get reliable information?
    • In the series of three activities the students should compare what makes a source reliable.
    • Ask students to make a list of things that they consider when judging a source. (Examples may include: personal past experience, recommendation of a trusted friend, expert in the field, etc.)
    • Ask students to look for different ads for the same type of product in magazines, newspapers or on the Internet. What things help make one ad more reliable or credible than another? How do you decide which one to buy? Discuss experiences that student have had with unreliable purchases.

  • What should I take?
    • Many publications quote "From Woman's Standpoint" about women traveling to the Klondike. Ask the students to make two lists of statements from the article about women: one list of positive comments and one list of negative comments. Use the lists to discuss what attitudes and ideas about women changed in 100 years?

Question 2: Which way to the Gold?

  • Use a variety of maps to help students evaluate the hazards associated with different routes to the gold fields.
    • Compare six different gold rush itineraries
    • A good web site for historic maps can be found at the American Memory project from the Library of Congress
    • Ask students to keep a list of the potential dangers associated with the land or water routes. At the end of the activities ask the students to rank the different dangers based on their own personal opinions.
    • Have a classroom debate. Group students by those who prefer the all water route or a land route. Ask them to prepare arguments for their route and be ready to debate someone from the other side. Use oral presentation guidelines for determining the best arguments. If your school doesn't already have guidelines do a web search and find one that matches your students' ability level. Sample guideline.

Question 3: What was it like on the way?

  • Recommended for a whole class project.
    • Step 1: Print out a copy of the map, photos and Captain's log. Use the map (or one in your classroom) to locate the Yukon River. Determine the length (1,400 miles in Alaska, 2,000 miles total) and the possible hazards that a steamship might encounter.
    • Step 2: Ask the students to guess what might happen during the trip and how long the trip should take. (Approximately 1 year)
    • Step 3: Assign teams of students to each read one of the seven different entries from the Captain's log. After the team has deciphered their portion, have a volunteer from each team read their portion aloud to the whole class.
    • Step 4: Plot the steamer's progress. Make note of the time it took to load wood. Can the students determine the distance the steamer could travel between stopping for wood?
    • Step 5: From the pictures of a steamer (not the John J. Healy) what inferences can the students make about the impact steamship travel had on the Yukon? (Wood cutting, roads on the tundra, hauling wood greater distances, sanitation and waste disposal, etc.)
    • Step 6: Have the students write a letter to a friend or family member, pretending that they were a passenger on the John J. Healy during this September 1899 journey.
Assessing Student Learning: Travel

     What was it like on the way? can also be used as an assessment for the standards addressed in this unit. For additional assessment ideas see Assessment and Scoring Guide model.

Assessing student progress toward standards:

Sample using the John J. Healy log, map, and photos

Standard:

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

Use appropriate technology to access, retrieve, organize and present historical information (History:C1)

Can create a digital presentation with photos and narration to tell the story of a steamer travelling up and down the Yukon River during the gold rush era

Use historical data from a variety of primary resources (History:C2)

Can explain and sequence what happened to a steamship 100 years ago (using a Captain's log, maps and photographs)

Understand the basic concepts of supply and demand, the market system and profit (Gov/Civ.:F5)

Can identify that the demand for travel to the gold fields made steamship companies willing to risk their ships by extending the travel season into the late fall.

Analyze the consequences of human modification of the environment and evaluate the changing landscape(Geo.:E5)

Can analyze information from historic photographs and written logs for evidence of how timber resources were used. An acceptable student analysis contains 2-3 verifiable facts from the historical evidence and 1-2 logical conclusions based on the facts.

Evaluate content from the speaker's or author's perspective (Eng.L.A.:E2)

Able to state 2-3 ideas from the Captain's log and explain what made the Captain feel this way.

Evaluate the impact of physical hazards on human systems (Geo.:E6)

Students can list at least 5 physical hazards that happened during travel to the gold fields that impacted communications and transportation

 


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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.