What a Rush! The California Gold Rush
Why was the Gold Rush an important period in California History?


By
Kelsey Fatland


Table of Contents:
Overview
Understandings
    • Understandings and Objectives
Activities
    • What do we know?
    • Project Introduction
    • By Sea or Over Land
    • Real Life Stories from the Gold Rush
    • Historical Role Play Project
    • What did you Learn?
    • Before and After
Reflection and Extensions
    • Reflection
    • Extensions
Topic:
California Gold Rush
Themes:
Adaptation
California History
Conflict
Diversity
Dreams
Gold Mining
Focus Content Area:
History/Social Science

Secondary Content Area:
English/Language Arts
Grade Level:
4


Overview:
Summary

This site serves as a resource for teachers who want to examine the time period in California History known as the Gold Rush with their students. It addresses concepts such as: why and how the Gold Rush began, what life was like during the Gold Rush, and what lasting effects the Gold Rush had on Californiaís people and land.  Students will take away a better understanding of the incredible impact that the Gold Rush had on California history. Students will explore the hardships of life and travel during this time period. Students will also discuss why the Gold Rush created conflict and tension among the various groups of people living in California.

Rationale

By the time students have reached 4th grade, most of them have heard about the Gold Rush.  They all know it was an exciting time when gold was found and people began digging for gold in the hills of California.  However, most of them have no knowledge of the hardships individuals and families endured while traveling to California in search of gold, nor do they understand the sacrifices that were made.  Students also need to understand how this influx of newcomers drastically changed the lives of the people who were already living  in California  (for example: the Native Americans, the "Californios", the European traders and trappers, and the American pioneers and settlers).  Itís also important for students to understand how the increased diversity of the poplulation created many new economic and business opportunities, while at the same time it created much conflict and great tension among the various groups.  Students need to acknowledge what an important part the Gold Rush played in making California the state it is today.



Understandings:

Understandings and Objectives

Core Understandings

Learning Objectives
Image source:  http://www.uen.org/utahlink/tours/admin/tour/15131/15131goldrush.jpg


California Content Standards
History and Social Science
Grade Four California: A Changing State
HSS.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.
HSS.4.3.2. Compare how and why people traveled to California and the routes they traveled (e.g., James Beckwourth, John Bidwell, John C. Fremont, Pio Pico).
HSS.4.3.3. Analyze the effects of the Gold Rush on settlements, daily life, politics, and the physical environment (e.g., using biographies of John Sutter, Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, Louise Clapp).
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.4.4.2. Explain how the Gold Rush transformed the economy of California, including the types of products produced and consumed, changes in towns (e.g., Sacramento, San Francisco), and economic conflicts between diverse groups of people.

Activities:

What do we know?






KWL Chart

We will begin our study of the California Gold Rush with a KWL exercise.  As a class, we will record what the students already know about this significant time period in California History and what they would like to know.  We will revisit our KWL chart at the end of the entire unit to record what the students learned.


Image source: 
www.sd52.bc.ca/laxkxeen/pwim/gold/gold1.gif



Project Introduction

As a class, we will watch the Powerpoint Presentation and briefly discuss the questions asked in the slideshow. 

Introduction Gold Rush Powerpoint

Credit for Image:  http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~orloski/images/miner.jpg





By Sea or Over Land



















The students will use the computer to research how people traveled to California in search of gold.  Using the link below they will explore the different websites listed and read about the dangerous journeys these brave people took by sea or over land to reach California. 
California Gold: What a Rush!

After they have explored each of the links and read about the adventures of the gold seekers, have them complete the worksheet titled Land vs. Sea.  On this worksheet they must list some differences about the journeys by land and sea as well as some similarities faced by all the travelers when following their golden dreams. 

Image source:
www.flyingmachines.org/prtr4.jpg




California Content Standards
History and Social Science
Grade Four California: A Changing State
HSS.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.
HSS.4.3.2. Compare how and why people traveled to California and the routes they traveled (e.g., James Beckwourth, John Bidwell, John C. Fremont, Pio Pico).


Real Life Stories from the Gold Rush

Life During the Gold Rush

Students will read a variety of Primary Source documents which describe what life was like during the Gold Rush from various peopleís perspectives. 

Students will be expected to take notes on the worksheet below to help them organize the information they find and to help them determine which information is the most important.
Determining Importance Notes

Here are some of the books (all primary sources) the students will have access to:
Craats, Rennay. (2003)  The Gold Rush (Real Life Stories).  Weigl Publishers.  ISBN  1590360788. 

Gregory, Kristiana. (2001)   Seeds of Hope:  The Gold Rush Diary of Susanna Fairchild.  Scholastic.  ISBN 0590511572.

Knapp Smith Clappe, Louise Amelia. (2001).  The Shirley Letters:  From California Miners, 1851-1852. Heyday Books.  ISBN 1890771007. 

Levy, JoAnn.  (1990)  They Saw the Elephant: Women in the California Gold Rush.  Archon. ISBN 0208022732.

Lloyd, J. D. (2002)  The Gold Rush (Firsthand). Greenhaven Press.  ISBN 0737708808. 

Mossinger, Rosemarie.  (1998)  Woodleaf Legacy:  The Story of a California Gold Rush Town.  Carl Mautz Pub.  ISBN 0962194042.

Stanley, Jerry.  (2000)  Hurry Freedom  African Americans in Gold Rush California. Crown Publishing.  ISBN 0517800942. 

Trafzer, Clifford E. (1992)  Californiaís Indians and the Gold Rush.  Sierra Oaks Publishing Co.  ISBN 094011321X.

Victor, Frances Fuller. (1998)  Women of the Gold Rush: The NewPenelope and Other Stories.  Heyday Books.  ISBN 1890771031

Yep, Laurence. (2000)  The Journal of Wang Ming-Chung:  A Chinese Miner.  Scholastic.  ISBN 0590386077.


Image source: http://www.publicaffairs.water.ca.gov/swp/images/history/goldrush.jpg




California Content Standards
History and Social Science
Grade Four California: A Changing State
HSS.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.
HSS.4.3.3. Analyze the effects of the Gold Rush on settlements, daily life, politics, and the physical environment (e.g., using biographies of John Sutter, Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, Louise Clapp).
HSS.4.3.4. Study the lives of women who helped build early California (e.g., Biddy Mason).
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.4.4.2. Explain how the Gold Rush transformed the economy of California, including the types of products produced and consumed, changes in towns (e.g., Sacramento, San Francisco), and economic conflicts between diverse groups of people.


Historical Role Play Project


As a final project for this unit the students will each choose a character who represents someone who lived in California during the Gold Rush.  This "character" could be a Native American, a miner, an entrepreneur, a Chinese immigrant, a woman pioneer, a Californio living at a Pueblo, or anyone else who lived during this time period.  The students will need to complete the three following assignments:


  1. Put together a bag of personal belongings that this person might have carried with them on a typical day during this time period.

  2. Write a letter to a friend or a relative from the perspective of this person.  The letter must include historically accurate facts that will help teach others about this personís daily life, significant experiences, and general perspective during the Gold Rush.  (See the rubric below to understand how students will be assessed on the letter portion of the project.)
  3. Historical Role Play.  Students must stand before the class and share the contents of their bags of personal belongings, read the letters they wrote, and explain several ways in which their character "saw" things differently than other characters during this time period.  (See the rubric below to understand how students will be assessed on the entire final project.)
Letter Rubric

Historical Role Play Rubric

Image Source:
http://www.library.ca.gov/goldrush/images/independent_gold_miner.jpg




California Content Standards
History and Social Science
Grade Four California: A Changing State
HSS.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.
HSS.4.3.2. Compare how and why people traveled to California and the routes they traveled (e.g., James Beckwourth, John Bidwell, John C. Fremont, Pio Pico).
HSS.4.3.3. Analyze the effects of the Gold Rush on settlements, daily life, politics, and the physical environment (e.g., using biographies of John Sutter, Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, Louise Clapp).
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.4.4.2. Explain how the Gold Rush transformed the economy of California, including the types of products produced and consumed, changes in towns (e.g., Sacramento, San Francisco), and economic conflicts between diverse groups of people.


What did you Learn?


As a class, we will revisit the KWL chart from the very beginning of the unit and record what we learned about the California Gold Rush. 

We will also discuss the overarching essential question which led us on this quest through the Gold Rush in the first place: Why was the Gold Rush an important time period in Californiaís history? 


Image source:
http://eetdnews.lbl.gov/nl23/img/gold_rush.jpg




Before and After











For homework, students will independently complete a worksheet titled Before and After

They will be expected to include as many details as possible explaining what life was like in California before the discovery of Gold and then what life was like in California after the Gold Rush. 

What had changed as a result of this massive flow of newcomers to California?

In class the following day, the students will share their responses with one another as a way of concluding our study of the Gold Rush time period and transitioning to the next time period in California history. 

















Image source:
San Francisco Before the Gold Rush: 
Annals of San Francisco, published 1855    1847

San Francisco After the Gold Rush
http://www.heritageantiquemaps.com/Gallery/



Reflection and Extensions:

Reflection

Upon completion of this unit on the California Gold Rush students should:






Extensions

For students or teachers who would like to continue learning about the California Gold Rush, here are some wonderful internet sites:


Gold Rush Simulation

California Gold Rush

The Land of Glittering Dreams

The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco

PBS - Way Back

Californiaís Untold Stories