Overview:
What key elements affected the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad?
Summary
This site incorporates essential topics relating to the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad. It examines the people involved with the planning and construction of the railroad that connected the western states with the East. Students will take away a better understanding of the need for such a means of transportation at that time in California history. Students will also explore the hardships of crossing the Sierra Nevadas and Great Basin by rail. At the time of the Industrial Revolution, these challenges seemed possible to overcome in a time of rapidly expanding technology.
Rationale
To focus on a significant time in California history that demonstrated the impact of the Industrial Revolution in the West, ultimately leading to the prominence of California during the postMexican era. To examine Theodore Judah’s legacy on modernday California’s status in the world. To revisit the contributions of the Chinese laborers during the rail’s construction.
Understandings & Objectives:
Core Understandings
Students understand the impact of the Transcontinental Railroad and its influence on the prosperity of California.
Students become familiar with the contributions made by immigrants by examining the role of the Chinese upon an integral link that united America.
Learning about the types of problems the railroad developers solved during construction and integration of the railroad into American society will help students see the relevance of math to important advancements in U.S. history.
Learning Objectives
Students will discuss California’s need of the Transcontinental Railroad.
Students will write about the importance of Theodore Judah’s role in the planning of the railroad.
Students will translate word problems into math sentences and solve them.
Students will create charts and graphs to show their reasoning effectively.
Time Requirements
6 hours 30 minutes over 5 days

MA.4.3.3. Solve problems involving multiplication of multidigit numbers by twodigit numbers.


MA.4.3.4. Solve problems involving division of multidigit numbers by onedigit numbers.

Statistics, Data Analysis, and Probability  MA.4.1.0 Students organize, represent, and interpret numerical and categorical data and clearly communicate their findings: 

MA.4.1.2. Identify the mode(s) for sets of categorical data and the mode(s), median, and any apparent outliers for numerical data sets.

Mathematical Reasoning  MA.4.2.0 Students use strategies, skills, and concepts in finding solutions: 

MA.4.2.3. Use a variety of methods, such as words, numbers, symbols, charts, graphs, tables, diagrams, and models, to explain mathematical reasoning.


MA.4.2.4. Express the solution clearly and logically by using the appropriate mathematical notation and terms and clear language; support solutions with evidence in both verbal and symbolic work.

History and Social Science  Grade Four California: A Changing State  HSS.4.4 Students explain how California became an agricultural and industrial power, tracing the transformation of the California economy and its political and cultural development since the 1850s. 

HSS.4.4.1. Understand the story and lasting influence of the Pony Express, Overland Mail Service, Western Union, and the building of the transcontinental railroad, including the contributions of Chinese workers to its construction.


HSS.4.4.3. Discuss immigration and migration to California between 1850 and 1900, including the diverse composition of those who came; the countries of origin and their relative locations; and conflicts and accords among the diverse groups (e.g., the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act).


Contents:Project IntroductionInstruction Time: 20 minutes on Day 1
We will begin the lesson by having a class discussion on what students know about the Transcontinental Railroad. The teacher will list any prior knowledge on a piece of butcher paper.
Then, with a basic introduction to the Transcontinental Railroad, students will be introduced to the key elements that affected its construction.Transcontinental Railroad Powerpoint Presentation
Research the Transcontinental Railroad
Instructional Time: 45 minutes on Day 1
Students will research the Transcontinental Railroad using a web resource list called The Force Behind the Transcontinental Railroad. These sites have been selected for being contentrich and kidfriendly. The students will be able to choose Worksheet #1 or Worksheet #2 to guide their notetaking. Through their research, they will become acquainted with all of the major topics that will be explored during the unit: the history, the geography, and the people who contributed to the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad.

HSS.4.4.1. Understand the story and lasting influence of the Pony Express, Overland Mail Service, Western Union, and the building of the transcontinental railroad, including the contributions of Chinese workers to its construction.


Write Theodore Judah's Biography
Instructional Time: Three Lessons, 45 minutes each
Lesson One: Day Two
Students will break into groups to discuss the importance of Theodore Judah. After brainstorming for 15 minutes, the groups will present their ideas and the teacher will write them on the board. The class will then discuss their ideas on the importance of Theodore Judah (30 minutes).
Lesson Two: Day Three
After discussing the influence that Theodore Judah had on the planning for the Transcontinental Railroad, students will write a first draft of his biography.
Topics include: Birthplace
 Schooling
 When he came to California
 Where he worked
 What he did at his job
 His family
 Surveying the Sierra Nevada
 Problems faced with the constuction of the railway
 Why he was called "Crazy Judah"
 His deal with the Big Four
 How he died
Students must address the key issue of Theodore Judah’s place in California History: Why was he important? If he didn’t plan for the railroad, would the railroad have ever come to California? Is he responsible for shaping California into what we know it as today? Students will be assessed on the following topics addressed in this grading Rubric.Lesson 3: Day Four
Students will peer edit their biographies in small groups. They then will make appropriate corrections and move on to the final draft.

HSS.4.4.1. Understand the story and lasting influence of the Pony Express, Overland Mail Service, Western Union, and the building of the transcontinental railroad, including the contributions of Chinese workers to its construction.


Railroad Math
Instructional Time: 45 minutes on Day 2
Each student will receive a worksheet with one math word problem that would have been something the railroad builders faced. Topics will include money spent, number of workers, hours of labor, and distance of railroad track. The students will attempt to solve the problem on their own, using what they know about addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. They will include the following:
An equation that represents the math that the problem requires
At least 3 sentences explaining why they used that equation
A solution to the problem
A picture or diagram that shows their reasoning
During the last 15 minutes, students will form groups with other students who had the same word problem (34 students per group). Each student will present his or her solution to the group for feedback. After every student has presented, the students may make additions to their worksheets before turning them in for evaluation.
To see a sample, please view the Railroad Math worksheet.
Checking for Understanding
Observation, a Railroad Math Rubric

MA.4.3.3. Solve problems involving multiplication of multidigit numbers by twodigit numbers.


MA.4.3.4. Solve problems involving division of multidigit numbers by onedigit numbers.

Mathematical Reasoning  MA.4.2.0 Students use strategies, skills, and concepts in finding solutions: 

MA.4.2.4. Express the solution clearly and logically by using the appropriate mathematical notation and terms and clear language; support solutions with evidence in both verbal and symbolic work.


Graphing Railroad Riders
Instructional Time: 45 minutes on Day 3, 30 minutes on Day 4
Students will be placed in groups of 4, and will receive a set of data showing the number of people who rode the Transcontinental Railroad to California in its first year of service. The riders will be identified by their home state. Each group will then be asked to create a graph showing its data, and recording the median, mode, and any outliers.
On the second day, groups will make a presentation to the "U.S. government" to show their results. Based on its graph, each group must decide which states need to have a larger advertising campaign to encourage their citizens to ride the train.
To see a sample, please view the Graphing Railroad Riders assignment.
Checking for Understanding
Observation, Student Work, Presentation

MA.4.1.2. Identify the mode(s) for sets of categorical data and the mode(s), median, and any apparent outliers for numerical data sets.

Mathematical Reasoning  MA.4.2.0 Students use strategies, skills, and concepts in finding solutions: 

MA.4.2.3. Use a variety of methods, such as words, numbers, symbols, charts, graphs, tables, diagrams, and models, to explain mathematical reasoning.


Write a Letter As a Chinese Laborer
Instructional Time: 1 Hour on Day 4
After watching a video that documents the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad, students will have watched the experience of the Chinese laborers. They will now have an opportunity for a response to the video in which they write a letter, as a Chinese laborer, to their family back in China.
Topics include:
 Description of daily life
 What the work was like (easy or hard)
 Type of work they were doing
 Amount of money they were making
 Food that they were eating
 Clothes they were wearing
 Places that they were working
 Materials used to complete work
 Daily temperature (hot or cold)
Students will be able to reflect on what they saw in the video. Each student will share their ideas in a Quaker Reading to follow their completion of the letter.

HSS.4.4.1. Understand the story and lasting influence of the Pony Express, Overland Mail Service, Western Union, and the building of the transcontinental railroad, including the contributions of Chinese workers to its construction.


HSS.4.4.3. Discuss immigration and migration to California between 1850 and 1900, including the diverse composition of those who came; the countries of origin and their relative locations; and conflicts and accords among the diverse groups (e.g., the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act).


HSS.4.4.4. Describe rapid American immigration, internal migration, settlement, and the growth of towns and cities (e.g., Los Angeles).


The Lasting Effect of the Railroad!
Instructional Time: 20 minutes on Day 5
On the last day, students may share their letters to the class if they would like. Then, the class will refer back to the prior knowledge chart they made on the first day. They will make a list of all the new knowledge they gained during the unit.