title Rationale Lesson 1
menu Conclusion Lesson 7 Lesson 6 Lesson 5 Lesson 4 Lesson 3 Lesson 2 Lesson 1


  • IL.15.A.2a Explain how economic systems decide what goods and services are produced, how they are produced and who consumes them.

  • IL.16.A.2c Ask questions and seek answers by collecting and analysing data from historic documents, images and other literary and non-literary sources.

  • IL.16.D.2b.US Describe the ways in which participation in the westward movement affected families and communities.

  • IL.17.D.2b Identify different settlement patterns in Illinois and the United States and relate them to physical features and resources.

  • IL.18.B Understand the roles and interactions of individuals and groups in society.


  • Research a given topic and present learned information to the class.


  • (Library / Internet Resources, plus suggested resources below)


  • Burns, K., & Ives, S. New Perspectives on THE WEST. Retrieved on November 21, 2007 from http://www.pbs.org/weta/thewest/.

  • Gregg, J. R. (1955). History of the Oregon Trail, Santa Fe Trail, and Other Trails. Binford & Mort.

  • Stefoff, R. (1997). The Oregon Trail in American History. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers, Inc.

  • Trinklein, M, & Boettcher, Steve. (2006). The Oregon Trail. Retrieved on November 21, 2007 from http://www.isu.edu/~trinmich/Oregontrail.html.

A. Purpose: Students will be able to research a given topic and present learned information to the class.

B. Activity: Students will be split into groups of approximately 4 persons per group. Each group will choose or be assigned one of the following topics about life in the developing West (1500s-1800s) [arranged in order of importance].

  1. Why did people relocate to the West? What was happening in other areas of the US?

  2. Who were the different people that migrated west, and how were they alike and different from one another? (ex. Outlaws, Native Americans, rich/poor)

  3. What was the Western economy like? What was used as currency / where did banks come into play? What were some common businesses?

  4. How did people of the time travel? What did they travel in, and where did they go?

  5. What diseases did people suffer from, and how did medicine fit into life out West ?

  6. What was the architecture and dress like?

  7. What technology was in use in various areas of the US during this time period?

  8. What differences emerged between the Oregon, California, Utah, and New Mexico territories?

After 40 minutes or so of research, ask each team to give a short presentation on what they have discovered. If students miss a key component of their area of study, fill in for them.

C. Assessment: Students can be assessed as a group during their presentation. Take content, presentation, and shared responsibility into account.

Progression: Investigate the geography of the area by finding where trails ran and why.