Transcontinental Railroad: The Challenge of Bridging a Continent
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 Judahís place in California History: Why was he important?  If he didnít 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.