These are the California Standards that will be covered in the unit

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The California Gold Rush (A Unit Overview)

From 1849 through most of the 1850’s, San Francisco was one of the most rip-roaring cities on Earth. Each day San Francisco built an average of 30 new houses and witnessed two murders and one fire. Its young, heavily armed, largely male populace drank at more than 500 bars and placed bets at more than 1000 gambling dens. Eggs went for six dollars a dozen and landlords collected windfall of mother lode of rentals for canvas shanties, abandoned ship hulls, and rooms in tinderbox houses. Fed on a diet of gold from the Sierra mines, San Francisco burgeoned into a major seaport in one year, bringing a wealth of both population and cargo that is still evident today. The students will spend time researching and learning about this period of time in our state’s history. They will gain a greater understanding of what caused the great migration west and will learn to appreciate the trials and tribulations of those who sought to make a better life for themselves. They will have an opportunity to learn the vocabulary of this era while they are playing fun and informative games. Through the integration of visuals such as bulletin boards and game boards, as well as partaking in research and discussions the students will develop an integrated understanding of what this time period was like.

These are the California Standards that will be covered in the unit

• Subject : History & Social Science

• Grade : Grade Four

• Area : California: A Changing State
Students learn the story of their home state, unique in American history in terms of its vast and varied geography, its many waves of immigration beginning with pre-Columbian societies, its continuous diversity, economic energy, and rapid growth. In addition to the specific treatment of milestones in California history, students examine the state in the context of the rest of the nation, with an emphasis on the U.S. Constitu-tion and the relationship between state and federal government.

• Sub-Strand 4.3: Students explain the economic, social, and political life in California from the establishment of the Bear Flag Republic through the Mexican-American War, the Gold Rush, and the granting of statehood. Standard 1: Identify the locations of Mexican settlements in California and those of other settle-ments, including Fort Ross and Sutter’s Fort. Standard 3: Analyze the effects of the Gold Rush on settlements, daily life, politics, and the physi-cal environment (e.g., using biographies of John Sutter, Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, Louise Clapp). Standard 4: Study the lives of women who helped build early California (e.g., Biddy Mason).

CA- California K-12 Academic Content Standards

• Subject : English Language Arts

• Grade : Grade Four

• Area : Writing

• Sub-Strand 1.0: Writing Strategies
Students write clear, coherent sentences and paragraphs that develop a central idea. Their writing shows they consider the audience and purpose. Students progress through the stages of the writing process (e.g., prewriting, drafting, revising, editing successive versions).

• Concept : Organization and Focus Standard 1.1: Select a focus, an organizational structure, and a point of view based upon purpose, audience, length, and format requirements. Standard 1.2: Create multiple-paragraph compositions:
a. Provide an introductory paragraph. b. Establish and support a central idea with a topic sentence at or near the beginning of the first paragraph. c. Include supporting paragraphs with simple facts, details, and explanations. d. Conclude with a paragraph that summarizes the points. e. Use correct indention. Standard 1.3: Use traditional structures for conveying information (e.g., chronological order, cause and effect, similarity and difference, and posing and answering a question).

• Sub-Strand 2.0: Writing Applications (Genres and Their Characteristics)
Students write compositions that describe and explain familiar objects, events, and experiences. Student writing demonstrates a command of standard American English and the drafting, research, and organizational strategies outlined in Writing Standard 1.0.

• Concept : Using the writing strategies of grade four outlined in Writing Standard 1.0, students: Standard 2.1: Write narratives:
a. Relate ideas, observations, or recollections of an event or experience. b. Provide a context to enable the reader to imagine the world of the event or experience. c. Use concrete sensory details. d. Provide insight into why the selected event or experience is memorable. Standard 2.2: Write responses to literature:
a. Demonstrate an understanding of the literary work. b. Support judgments through references to both the text and prior knowledge. Standard 2.3: Write information reports:
a. Frame a central question about an issue or situation. b. Include facts and details for focus. c. Draw from more than one source of information (e.g., speakers, books, newspapers, other media sources). Standard 2.4 : Write summaries that contain the main ideas of the reading selection and the most significant details.

Unit Calendar


Day 1
SS:Background and Introduction to California and the Gold Rush Years- This will be a whole Group Presentation to the Gold Rush. That includes clips from, images and writings that will give the students background into the unit. We will also visit a website called that walks us through the beginning of the gold rush and the lust for gold.

Day 2
SS:Where is California?

Introduce Bulletin Board: Name the Missions. Also includes an art project where the students will learn about the geography of California and then create California map out of salt and flour. They will be responsible in including landmarks and painting rivers. This will give them a feel for the land.

Day 3
SS:California Flag (Bulletin Board): In this lesson the students will learn where the California flag originated from and the meaning of the symbols on the map. They will then learn how the flag has changed over the years. This will be followed by an activity of coloring the flag.

Day 4
SS:The Mexican and American War: Through video and whole class discussion the students will learn about the Mexican American War and why it is important to California History. They will do this through reading the letters of miners and creating their own letters. This is one of the large lesson plans.

Day 5
SS:Gold Rush Vocabulary: In this lesson we will review the vocabulary they may have heard so far and will hear as we enter the time of the gold rush. This will complete the preparation for the students to begin the gold rush education throughout the next two weeks.

Other: PE Kickball: A fun twist to your normal kickball where students will learn and be introduced to concept of 49ers and Tommy knockers.

Day 6
SS: Gold at Sutter’s Mill/Assign Mining Groups: The students will be put into mining groups where the students will be responsible for controlling and maintaining a mining camp. Every Day this will include a different activity. The will also do the Sutter’s Mill Bulletin Board activity where they will learn where gold was first found and the Gold Rush all started.

(Bulletin Board)
Other: Language Arts: Begin reading The Great Horn Spoon

Day 7
SS: Gold Rush Migration: Here the students will begin a five day journal about the hardships travelers faced going to California. This includes move across America and by sea. They will read from miners journals about the struggles they faced from the beginning.
Read Aloud: The Great Horn Spoon

Day 8
SS: Life in the Gold Fields: The students will be introduced through images and power points what life was like in the gold fields. Then they will be put into their groups and discuss what they can do to survive the hardships that they know they will face.

Read Aloud: The Great Horn Spoon

Day 9
SS:Hydraulic Mining(Bulletin Board) : They will read with their groups information from the bulletin board about Hydraulic Mining. They will also have to complete the bulletin board activity with their groups. They will then discuss how their mining group will mine for gold.

Read Aloud: The Great Horn Spoon

Day 10
SS:Gold Rush Prices: We will have a whole class discussion of how the merchants increased their prices because they could. They will receive a worksheet that will give them their wages and how much gold their mining group has found and then they will be given the prices of the tools they will need to keep their camp going. They will have to come up with total price to survive.

Other: P.E.
Read Aloud: The Great Horn Spoon
Day 11
SS: The People who changed California: The mining groups will be assigned a specific person who helped shape California and or the Gold Rush. They will be asked to do their own research either from the library or internet and find out what they can about their person. Then they will be asked to present their information to the class.
Read Aloud: The Great Horn Spoon

Day 12
SS:The Women who changed California: This will be a whole class discussion of what role Gold Rush women play. How they helped shape California. This will bring them into the other diversity in California gold rush.

Other: Language Arts-Writing about the diversity in the California Gold Rush

Day 13
SS: Life on the Homestead: In a whole class discussion we will discuss life as a homestead or in mining camps. We will watch video from history channel .com where they shoe the hardships that miners faced in that most of them did not find gold.

Read Aloud: The Great Horn Spoon
/Day 14
SS: Finish reading The Great Horn Spoon, the students will then be asked in their mining groups to fill out the comprehension worksheets. They will also write a reflective paper on what they have learned from The Great Horn Spoon and throughout the lesson.
Test Review

Day 15
SS:Unit Test

Lesson Plans

The unit is to get the students to know and understand the Gold Rush. In this particular lesson the students need to understand the rush to California. What started it and how it was like for the travelers in this time to travel the students will learn and have a concept for. This will have to take place in the beginning of the unit after the student learn about the discovery of the gold and what starts the gold and rush and the migration to California.

This lesson will teach students all about the Mexican-American War. The lesson will explain how the Mexican War for Independence affected California and how it changed history. Important dates and historical figures from the war will be discussed. Students will learn about independence, equality, and how the government works.

The Gold Rush is one of the most important eras in California's history. The state of California was transformed during this period. Prior to the Gold Rush, California was mainly a sparsely settled Mexican frontier territory made up of a handful of seaport towns, dozens of Native American tribes, sll farms and large ranches. The Gold Rush turned this state into the prime destination it is today and was bombarded with adventurous, gold-seeking people from all over the world. Before the end of this period California had joined the Union, hundreds of thousands of emigrants had arrived, gold worth millions of dollars was found.

This created the ethnic and racial diversity that exists in California today. The pouring in of racial and ethnic groups created a tremendously diverse population and with that diversity came many challenges. We have been studying all about the Gold Rush for weeks now and this lesson is towards the end of the unit and asks students to consider the challenges that many were presented with due to the huge influx of people entering the state and seeking to make their fortune.

Students will play a game of Kickball on the school playground.  Students will be divided into two teams. The teams will be called the Forty-Niners and the Tommyknockers

The task: Committees will be formed from each of the four towns surrounding the Trout River in California. The towns are Sleepyville, Deer Valley, Pinetown, and Quiet Gulch. It will be each committee's job to come up with a plan that will successfully solve the problems of the last gold Rush. In order to do this, they must first find out answers to the following questions regarding the Gold Rush of 1849:

1) How did the miners reach the gold fields? What problems did this trip cause?

2) What did the miners do once they reached the fields?

3) What kind of equipment did they need for mining? What other goods did they need?

4) Were there any problems caused by these needs? How did they get the supplies that they needed?

5) Did any of the mining cause harm to the environment?

6) What kind of problems arose in the mining towns before there were laws? What laws were needed?

Once the answers to these questions have been answered, they will come up with solutions to each of the problems.

Literature Ties

The first literature tie-in is the book “Hurry Freedom: African Americans in Gold Rush California”, by Jerry Stanley. This book gives students an opportunity to understand the growing diversity that was taking place in California during this particular time in our nation’s history. It tells the story of the African-American forty-niners who went west to seek fortunes and freedom in the California Gold Rush. The plight is recounted through the personal experiences of Mifflin Gibbs and Peter Lester. Prejudice was running rampant and life was not easy. These two men persevered and were able to succeed where many had failed. Their efforts included support from the Underground Railroad and behind the scenes lobbying to make life a better for African-Americans in California.

The next piece of literature we have selected to extend the impact of these lessons is the book “Precious Gold, Precious Jade”, by Sharon E. Heisel. It takes place during the waning days of the California Gold Rush and deals with the clashes between the white settlers and the Chinese immigrants. It is based on the friendship of a young woman who befriends a Chinese family despite the racism and fear that overwhelm the residents of her small western mining town.

Lastly, we have chosen the classic, “By the Great Horn Spoon”, by Sid Fleischman. This is wonderful historical fiction with endearing characters that teaches kids about sea travel in the mid-1800s and a taste of what San Francisco and the gold camps of the 1849-50s might have been like--without them even knowing that they're learning something.

The story of the boy Jack and his Butler named Praiseworthy takes them from Boston on a ship to San Francisco and the gold fields of northern California. Praiseworthy is like a male Mary Poppins who always manages to find just the right solution to situations. His "magic," however, is his careful observation of people, kind heart, and keen understanding of human nature.

Synthesis Task Project

The students will put on a play that tells the story of their mining groups that they have been working on throughout the entire gold rush unit. The students were required to create step by step their own experience as miner during this time. Their play will have to correlate with all the projects they have completed and tell their story of their experience as miners during this time. For example one of their first assignments was to keep a five day journal of how they traveled to California and why. So their play will start here acting out what they have written. The rest of their lessons were also given to them in a time line that will correlate with writing a play in the correct order. This is a fun way to tie together this unit for the students. It gives them a chance to show what they have learned and include some of everything they did in the unit. A synthesis project is something that ties a lot of different pieces together and this play will do just that. The play also allows the unit to include some performing arts in this gold rush unit. So the last day as what would be the unit test will be each mining group performing their play for the class.

Internet Links

PBS Kids
PBS Kids has a wide variety of short clips on The Gold Rush and sub-contents such as The Mexican-American War, Mining, and missions. This site provides informative and educational videos that you can watch online. This site can be used for teaching a lesson and also for students to use to research information.

How Stuff Works
How Stuff Works is a subsidiary website owned by Discovery. This site provides articles and video clips on many topics. The link provided focuses on information about The California Gold Rush. This site can be used as a tool for teaching and a tool for students to explore.

The Malakoff website is a compilation of links to different facts of The California Gold Rush. It provides links to general and specific information. This site can be used as a tool for teaching and a tool for students to explore.

Fun Trivia
Fun trivia provides an online quiz that student can take and receive their results with an explanation of the answer for each question. There are four quizzes to choose from. This site is a tool that can be used to assess students’ knowledge. It is a site that students can go on to test their knowledge

History on the Net

History on the Net provides facts about the Gold Rush and printable worksheets the teachers can provide to the students. There is also a true/false interactive quiz that students can take.

File Folder

There are four file folder games for the students to play at the interactive bulletin board. The first game is a bingo game that has vocabulary words related to the California Gold Rush era. The second game is called Race to the Gold!!!

As the gold miners raced to California for the gold so will the students. To advance through the board game the students need to answer the trivia questions to move across America. This is a fast paced game made to review and familiarize you with the facts of the California Gold Rush. Next, we have a game called Eureka Gold
In this game; you must advance your miner to the GOLD. You can do this by beginning at start and move forward by answering the trivia questions correctly. Be careful because some cards might contain more than a question that can make you move backwards or lose a turn. To advance your player make sure you know your Gold Rush facts! Lastly, like any good Gold Rush game the point here is to win the GOLD! You can do this by first like any miner has to do count on chance. Roll the dice and if you get the higher number you get to pull a card. Once you have pulled the card make sure that you answer the trivia questions correctly so that you can be the miner to get the gold first!

Bulletin Board Tie-In

1. Name the missions (Day 2): In order for students to get their mining cart on the board the must write at least three missions on the California white board.

2. Wave your flag (Day 3): Students will read about the history of the California State Flag. They will then color their own state flag.

3. Sutter's Mill (Day 6): John Sutter was a man in search for gold. Students will work on a Sutter's Mill word search.

4. Hydraulics (Day 9): As mining for gold became a popular profession, technology was advancing everyday. Students will read letters from miners during the Gold Rush era and see what changes hydraulic mining had on the environment. Students will then write a letter summarizing and explaining the occurrences and affects hydraulic mining had on the environment.

5. Go 49's (Day 10: The Forty-niner's were not just a football team, they were among the first miners to find gold. Students will create an annotated map about the travel that the forty-niner's had to do.

6. Eureka!!!: Students have struck it rich and completed every required activity on the board. They can now pan for gold and become wealthy in classroom riches.

7. Strike More: There are a extra activities that students can do for extra credit. There is a mining terms crossword puzzle, panning for gold worksheet, and gold rush word search with a picture search for each starred word.

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Assessment and Remediation Plan



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