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Unit 4, Lesson 2: Gold Fever: The Good and Bad News!

This second lesson includes a podcast (A) with script, to be played following the “hook”.  The students are called upon to research the social, economic and political problems during the Gold Rush.  They will interview citizens involved in the controversies in an attempt to learn the details and facts of the issues, and the cause and effect of the actions of the citizenry.  Note:  This lesson will take up to four 50-minute periods to allow for research, group collaboration and presentation.


Materials and Resources Needed

Standards Addressed

  • California History Social Science Standards

    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.

    Analyze the effects of the Gold Rush on settlements, daily life, politics, and the physical environment.

    Study the lives of women who helped build early California (e.g., Louise Clapp).

    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.

    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.

  • California English-Language Arts Standards


    Structural Features of Informational Materials

    2.1 Identify structural patterns found in informational text (e.g., compare and contrast, cause and effect, sequential or chronological order, proposition and support) to strengthen comprehension.

    Comprehension and Analysis of Grade-Level-Appropriate Text

    2.2  Use appropriate strategies when reading for different purposes (e.g., full comprehension, location of information, personal enjoyment).

    2.3  Make and confirm predictions about text by using prior knowledge and ideas presented in the text itself, including illustrations, titles, topic sentences, important words, and foreshadowing clues.

    2.4  Evaluate new information and hypotheses by testing them against known information and ideas.

    2.5  Compare and contrast information on the same topic after reading several passages or articles.

    2.6  Distinguish between cause and effect and between fact and opinion in expository text.

    Speaking Applications (Genres and Their Characteristics)

    2.0 Students deliver brief recitations and oral presentations about familiar experiences or interests that are organized around a coherent thesis statement. Student speaking dem­onstrates a command of standard American English and the organizational and delivery strategies outlined in Listening and Speaking Standard 1.0.

    Using the speaking strategies of grade four outlined in Listening and Speaking Standard 1.0, students:

    2.2  Make informational presentations:

    1. Frame a key question.
    2. Include facts and details that help listeners to focus.
    3. Incorporate more than one source of information (e.g., speakers, books, newspapers, television or radio reports).
  • California English Language Development Standards

    Part 1:  Interacting in Meaningful Ways

    1. Collaborative

    P1.4.1 Exchanging information and ideas with others through oral collaborative discussions on a range of social and academic topics

    1. Supporting opinions

    a. Support opinions by expressing appropriate/accurate reasons using textual evidence (e.g., referring to text) or relevant background knowledge about content, with substantial support.

    1. Selecting language resources

    a. Use a select number of general academic and domain-specific words to create precision while speaking and writing.

  • Common Core State Standards

    Speaking and Listening

    1. Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 4 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
    2. Come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw on that preparation and other information known about the topic to explore ideas under discussion.
    3. Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions and carry out assigned roles.
    4. Pose and respond to specific questions to clarify or follow up on information, and make comments that contribute to the discussion and link to the remarks of others.
    5. Review the key ideas expressed and explain their own ideas and understanding in light of the discussion.
    6. Paraphrase portions of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
    7. Identify the reasons and evidence a speaker or media source provides to support particular points.
    8. Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.
    9. Plan and deliver a narrative presentation that: relates ideas, observations, or recollections; provides a clear context; and includes clear insight into why the event or experience is memorable.
  • California Visual and Performing Arts Content Standards

    1.0 Artistic Perception: Processing, Analyzing, and Responding to Sensory Information Through the Language and Skills Unique to Theatre

    Students observe their environment and respond, using the elements of theatre. They also observe formal and informal works of theatre, film/video, and electronic media and respond, using the vocabulary of theatre.

    Development of the Vocabulary of Theatre

    1.1 Use the vocabulary of theatre, such as plot, conflict, climax, resolution, tone, objectives, motivation, and stock characters, to describe theatrical experiences.

    Comprehension and Analysis of the Elements of Theatre

    1.2  Identify a character’s objectives and motivations to explain that character’s behavior.

    1.3  Demonstrate how voice (diction, pace, and volume) may be used to explore multiple possibilities for a live reading. Examples: I want you to go.” “I want you to go.” “I want you to go.”

    2.0 Creative Expression: Creating, Performing, and Participating in Theatre

    Students apply processes and skills in acting, directing, designing, and scriptwriting to create formal and informal theatre, film/videos, and electronic media productions and to perform in them.

    Development of Theatrical Skills

    2.1 Demonstrate the emotional traits of a character through gesture and action.

    Creation/Invention in Theatre

    2.2  Retell or improvise stories from classroom literature in a variety of tones (gossipy, sorrowful, comic, frightened, joyful, sarcastic).

    2.3  Design or create costumes, props, makeup, or masks to communicate a character in formal or informal performances.

    5.0 Connections, Relationships, Applications: Connecting and Applying What Is Learned in Theatre, Film/Video, and Electronic Media to Other Art Forms and Subject Areas and
    to Careers

    Students apply what they learn in theatre, film/video, and electronic media across subject areas. They develop competencies and creative skills in problem solving, com­-munication, and time management that contribute to lifelong learning and career skills. They also learn about careers in and related to theatre.

    Connections and Applications

    5.1  Dramatize events in California history .

    5.2  Use improvisation and dramatization to explore concepts in other content areas.

    Careers and Career-Related Skills

    5.3 Exhibit team identity and commitment to purpose when participating in theatrical experiences.

  • Suggested K-12 Pathway for College, Career, and Civic Readiness

    Dimension 2, Change, Continuity and Context


    D2.His.4.3-5. Explain why individuals and groups during the same historical period differed in their perspectives.

    Causation and Argumentation

    D2.His.14.3-5. Explain probable causes and effects of events and developments.

Essential Questions

  • How have the natural resources of the area affected the growth, and landscape of the area?
  • How has the growth of the area affected the economic, social and political life of the citizenry?  Include the cause and effect.
  • In what ways is the Rule of Law necessary for peaceful coexistence?


  • Students will analyze the major social, economic and political life, the physical environment and effect on the diverse population during the Gold Rush period.
  • Students will read articles about the challenges facing the populace during the Gold Rush period and will be able to locate information, determine cause and effect, compare and contrast information, and make predictions based on what they have read.
  • Students identify a character’s objectives and motivations to explain that character’s behavior.
  • Students demonstrate the ability to effectively collaborate and work together following agreed upon rules for group behavior.


These objectives will be assessed through a dramatic interview performed in groups, notes students have taken on readings, and contributions to the collaborative process of the group.

Quality Criteria Absolutely!  Almost! Not Yet
The Who What When Where and Why of the assigned conflict is clearly described.      
“Character” was maintained and believable.  Use of props and simple costume pieces were appropriate.      
Facts and details focused on assigned questions are provided, including why individuals differed in their perspectives      
The cause and effect of the social, political, economic and/or physical characteristic of the topic is clearly communicated.      
Effective collaboration including listening, speaking, adding points to conversation in an organized manner.      

Learning Activities (2-3  full periods, approximately 50 minutes each)


Begin by dropping the “gold” to the ground in different areas of the classroom and then announcing, “Thar’s gold in them thar hills ~ come git it fer yerself.”

  • (You may want to keep some of the gold to yourself.  After the discussion if there is anyone who did not get their fair share, you can give them a few pieces!)
  • Students jump up and grab as many pieces of the “gold” as they can before they are all gone.  Use your bell, or “attention-getter” to calm students down and have them get to back to their seats.

Slide 7: Have a discussion with students.  You can ask them to start by describing what happened and how it made them feel.  You can probe if necessary, with the following questions:

  • Did you have trouble getting as much gold as you wanted?
  • Did you feel that others were getting more than you?
  • How did that make you feel?
  • Why do you think this happened?


Play the Podcast.

  • Do you see any connections to the problems discussed by the children, Praiseworthy and Mrs. Clapp, and what just happened here in our classroom as we scrambled for gold?(People get anxious when they are want something and there is a limited amount. Some “take over” and don’t give others a chance.  When there aren’t any rules, people can act pretty wild!)



Slide 8: Teacher:  You heard Praiseworthy tell the children that they were going to need to learn more about the details of the issues affecting daily life if any problems were going to be solved.  In order to be informed, will need to do some research.

After the research all members of your group will read your challenge handout and create a performance about your assigned issue.

Challenge Handouts:

Before this happens,  individually, (or in pairs) I am asking you to read the handout I will give you ~ all members of the group you are in will also read this handout.  Please take notes on the details on the Graphic Organizer.  Do your best thinking, and search through the resources I will give you to find the details and facts! (Close reading techniques recommended) Teacher articles below:

When we have finished this, we will meet in groups, establish rules for our collaboration, and get to work on your challenge.


Slide 9:  Teacher:  Please read the article(s) I have given you, (either separately or in pairs with another person in your group).  Underline key words and circle words you do not understand.

*Heterogeneous Groups: 1) Travel, 2) The Life of a 49’er and Mining, 3) Women of the West, 4) Immigrants, Migrants, Native Americans, 5) Law and Order.

*Note:  Group 3 could all be girls as they will enact the lives of prominent women of that time.  However, there could be a boy who helps tell the story, a miner interacting with the women, or a relative, friend of the woman.etc.

*Note:  If you have texts, access to the internet, or additional books applicable to their topic, it would be great for them to add to the information offered in their handout by doing further research.


Slide 10:  Teacher: Then read the article again and ask yourself, (or with your partner), What is the overall idea or theme of the article. Go through and take notes, answering the questions presented.

Then complete the graphic organizer: Who is involved, What is happening, Where it is happening, When it is happening and Why and How you think this has become an issue.  You may need to read the article several times.  Specific questions are at the end of your article to help guide you.


We will work with our groups at our next study period and you will be able to see if there is any information others had that you want to add, or if you can help others “fill in the blanks”.

  • You will have a specific group challenge, so you need to be a specialist in this area!
  • Be ready for your group work tomorrow ~ recommend repeat reading at home!



You will have a specific group challenge, so you need to be a specialist in this area! But you need to know how you will work in the group.  Group students.


Slide 11 and 12: Once you have discussed each role, in groups, students decide upon roles, or teacher chooses roles for group: Leader, Recorder, Time Keeper, Presenter, or Errand Monitor.


Slide 13: Students take on roles assigned as they create rules to “live by” for their group, for example:

  • Be prepared
  • Give everyone a chance to speak before you speak again
  • Everyone participates
  • Be respectful of the roles of each member in the group
  • Stay on task


Slide 14:  Review this slide with sentence starters and handout, explaining that this is the way collaborative groups speak to one another to be most productive.  We will practice using these sentence starters with a discussion topic.  Each member of the group picks up one of the sentence starters and adds to the discussion.

Slide 15: The slide is presented showing a “California Mystery Animal”.  Students use the sentence starters to have a civil discussion about the questions asked on the slide, practicing with collaborative speaking and listening.

When it is their turn, they pick up a face down “Sentence Starter Card” and add to the discussion.  Only when everyone has had their turn, may the sentence starter cards be put back in the middle of the group – face up…adding more discussion and more practice with a chosen sentence starter.

Ask the group how this worked for them; what were the challenges using the sentence starters?  Can they see how using the sentence starters during the group work may be helpful?  Why, why not?

Students will want to learn more about this “California Mystery Animal.”


Slide 16: Using your new collaborative skills and roles, in groups, discuss the article you have read:  What was the overall idea or theme of the article, and share your answers to the other questions the article presented.  (Ask students to use the new “language” and sentence starters as often as they can).


Slide 17: Students are given their group challenge.  They are to create a beginning, middle and end to their challenge presentation.  Those who play the beginning “freeze” when finished, middle players begin and “freeze”, etc.  Students are told that they are not to write out “scripts”, but after taking notes on what happens in each section of the play, decide what their parts will be and “play” the parts even if the words are not exactly the same each time (improvisation).  As they work together and agree upon the content of the beginning, middle and end, and then practice, they are asked to remember to have discussions using the sentence starters and the group roles already established.  (Reinforce students positively for using sentence starters and proper roles, as they discuss how to “frame” their play.)

*If the challenge is not clear, or children need more reinforcement regarding breaking their story challenge into three parts you can use Goldilocks and the Three Bears as an example:  What happened in the beginning of the story (setting, characters and conflict established) in the middle (rising problem) , at the end (resolution).  Ie:  Beginning:  Goldilocks is hungry and finds an open door, eats the food, breaks a chair and falls asleep on the bed (one of the group members acts this out),  Middle:  Bears come home and find porridge eaten, chair broken and Goldilocks in Little Bear’s bed and are very upset(three or four  group members play the middle part),  End:  Goldilocks wakes up and runs from the house, sorry to have caused trouble, and very afraid of the bears.


Encourage the students to use props, find appropriate costume pieces at home, and continue to practice so that they feel more confident. 



Students practice their beginning, middle and end presentations ~ checking the rubric to be sure all of the essentials are within the presentation.  Has their dialogue made very clear the Who, What, Why, Where, and When, and How of their issue?  They bring props and costume pieces from home to help with their five-minute presentation.  Note: rubric above includes presentation and collaboration skills.


Showtime!  Groups present to the class.  Each member of the class audience is to create a question based on either the Who, What, Where, Why and When, or How, and given extra “gold” or recognition if they are able to begin their question with a sentence starter, and if the question is not an “obvious” answer that has already been presented.

Class audience is expected to tell the group, prompted by the teacher ~ the theme of the challenge presented, and major details of the conflict in addition to the question. (Hand out some blank graphic organizers for note taking; students may use the bottom for their question.)

Group calls on some from the audience to ask questions about the issue presented ~ and answers questions. The questions from the student audience are turned into the teacher following the presentation.