Westward Expansion

To go or not to go... that is the question!


The year is 1855. You are currently a successful merchant in New England. However, you have always dreamt of striking it rich and the land of opportunity is out West. To go or not to go, that is the question. Your task is to decide whether or not it will be beneficial to you and your family to pack up shop and head West.

You will accomplish this task by learning about merchants of the day and the likelihood of growing wealthy where you're at or if you'll have to move. You shouldn't take the gamble and head out without understanding what you'll need for the trip (supplies), how long and far you'll travel (all the way to California?), and how to prepare for the obstacles you'll encounter (weather, Native Americans, etc.).

You will work in groups of four to present a case to stay or go. You have to present a PowerPoint to the class. Good luck and giddee up!

The Task

Step 1: Decide which group member will play each role.

1. The Father: This person will decide which supplies are needed for the trek, how to store those supplies, and how much it will cost.

2. The Mother: This person prepares for the obstacles that will be faced on the trek. Think about the weather, what people or animals you might encounter, and other potential obstacles (leave food to the mover and shaker and transportation to the engineer).

3. The Uncle: This person maps out the journey. Decided how long you'll be traveling, how far you'll go (final destination), and how you'll get there (ox cart, hand cart, boat, etc.).

4. The Older Sister: This person decides what food to bring along on the trip, what you will do if you run out of food on the trail, and tells father what supplies you will need to cook the food.

Step 2: Individually follow links below to learn about your assigned topic. Take notes on your findings.

Step 3: As a group discuss your findings and decide if you are staying put or going west. Do this by creating a list of Pros and Cons with each member of the group contributing to the list.

Step 4: As a group create a PowerPoint presentation to show the class why you have decided to stay or go.

Step 5: Present PowerPoint to class.


Delegation of Responsibility
Each student in the group can clearly explain what information is needed by the group, what information s/he is responsible for locating, and when the information is needed.
Each student in the group can clearly explain what information s/he is responsible for locating.
Each student in the group can, with minimal prompting from peers, clearly explain what information s/he is responsible for locating.
One or more students in the group cannot clearly explain what information they are responsible for locating.
PowerPoint Presentation
Each student presents information related to his/her portion of the project. The Presentation is presented by all members of the group equally.
Each student presents during the PowerPoint presentation; however, one or two students have more information to present than the other students.
3 of the 4 students presents during the PowerPoint presentation. The presentation does not show that all group members have researched and provided equal information for the project.
Some group members present for more than 2 minutes; while others present for less than a minute, indicating unequal delegation of project responsibility.
Plan for Organizing Information
Students have developed a clear plan for organizing the information as it is gathered and in the final research product. All students can independently explain the planned organization of the research findings.
Students have developed a clear plan for organizing the information in the final research product. All students can independently explain this plan.
Students have developed a clear plan for organizing the information as it is gathered. All students can independently explain most of this plan.
Students have no clear plan for organizing the information AND/OR students in the group cannot explain their organizational plan.
Each student turns in complete notes showing information for their portion of the information presented in the power point, and cited their websites.
Turns in notes but does not cite all of the websites
Turns in notes but cites none of the websites
Does not turn in notes
Team Work
Group member took responsibility for their role and was able to share their information with the group to present to the class.
Was able to work independently but had a hard time cooperating with the group, didn't have much information to share with group for presentation.
Was not able to work with a group cooperatively and did not have information to share for the power point presentation.
Did not have any information to share with group, was unable to cooperate with others.


So what do you now know about Westward Expansion? Why would you have gone... or stayed? This activity should have increased your awareness about the expansion and what happened during that time period. Have a nice day.

The following links may help you with any role you choose:

Websites for the Father and Sister

Supplies, price list: http://www.oregontrailcenter.org/HistoricalTrails/Supplies.htm
Wagons? Mules, Horses, or Oxen?
Tools? Medicine? Food?



Websites for the Uncle

Interactive Trail Map and images of stops along the way - __http://www.historyglobe.com/ot/otmap1.htm__
Historic sites on the trails: http://www.america101.us/trail/Sites.html
Interactive Trail Map - http://www.tomlaidlaw.com/clickable/clickable2.html
Emigrant information and more! - http://www.emigrantroad.com/contents.html

Websites for Mother
Diseases on the Oregon Trail - http://library.thinkquest.org/CR0210182/diseases.html
A fantastic site - Read the questions and then scroll down to the bottom of the page to find links that help you find the answers __https://sites.google.com/site/canyousurvivetheoregontrail/doctor__
Site with "old time" cures - http://thelibrary.org/lochist/periodicals/bittersweet/wi74n.htm
Plants and animals along the Oregon Trail: http://www.lewis-clark.org/content/content-article.asp?ArticleID=500