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Canals and Forests, Inductive Tower Activity

Will your students recognize the simple but essential technologies that allowed people to connect Lake Champlain to New York City and the Great Lakes? In this activity, we will use observations and inferences of "snapshot" objects and documents to try to understand a wider historical narrative. Why were canals built? What made them so useful and important? What changes did it bring to the landscape and the nation? Scholars will tell this story with a concluding DBQ writing prompt.

Grade Level: 6 - 12

Standards:
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6.1; 7.1; 8.1; 9-10.1; 11-12.1:
Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6.2; 7.2; 8.2; 9-10.2; 11-12.2:
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6.7; 7.7; 8.7; 9-10.7; 11-12.7:
Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.

Content Area: history, science

Recommended Length/Duration: 90 minutes

Goals:
Use a series of “artifacts” to lead the class through a series of inductive towers to explain the relationship between canals and forests of NY and VT. Building knowledge and understanding, beginning with the canal model and using observation and inference to explain the larger story, students will realize the significance of the objects, historic photographs, and textual quotations to understand the wider Stem to Stern Story. Write a paragraph, it DBQ format, to explain the connection between the two objects (our documents) and how we think about land use today that explains the basis for ideas of stewardship.

Description/Sequence:

Assessment:

Paragraph response question using the objects to tell the story and bring the lessons to the present day. The back page of the work sheet can be used for this portion, or different questions can be presented such as:
“Create an imaginary character whose story involves all of the objects we examined today. Draw a picture or write a description of how these objects tell an historical sotry. Does that person’s story end? Do you think a lot of people would have a similar story?”

“Use the objects we examined today to answer the question: what impacts did the construction of the canals in VT and NY have on the people and the landscape?” 

Equipment:
Note: this activity includes many objects that are part of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s collection of models and images, but could be reshaped using historical documents and objects of various types.