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Mrs. Ramella's Electronic Portfolio for Educ. 9045B

Unit 2 Assignment-Primary Source Lesson Plan

Sandra Ramella-Educ 9045B


SUBJECT AREA: History/ss           GRADE LEVEL: 4



Using some primary sources from the internet, students will gather information from a list of websites provided to create a time line about John Sutter’s life and the same time period in American history.  They will use the information gathered from these websites to write a brief history about john Sutter and his significance to the Gold Rush.  They will make inferences, and connect the internet sources to their textbook readings to gain more insight into the impact the Gold Rush had on California’s development as a state.



H-/SS 4.3.3 Analyze the effect of the Gold Rush on settlements, daily life, politics, and the physical environment. using biographies of John Sutter, Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, Louise Clapp.



Technology research tools-students use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources. Also the students will use technology tools for individual and collaborative writing, communication, and publishing activities to create knowledge products for inside and outside the classroom.




At the computer lab, working in groups of 3, students will access the various primary sources of information from the appropriate websites that I have provided for the students.  The following supplies are needed:

A strip of tag board approximately 6”X18’ ( for a class of 33, will need 10 strips), glue, or glue sticks, and scissors


Students will do the following activities:

1.                  After reading the Biography of John Sutter, (These are secondary sources, but provide a good summary of John Sutter’s life.



After visiting the websites of primary sources provided, they will begin gathering information about important personal events that happened in his life from birth through death, from both the primary and secondary sources.  They will also gather information about events that occurred during the same time period in American history.


2.                  In order to make the timeline, they must make a minimum of 10 entries about Sutter’s life and include at least 2 events that occurred in American History during that same time period.  They will word process the facts on paper to fit the tag board using an appropriate font.  Then they fill cut out their information and glue to the tag board.  They should also include some pictures of John Sutter and of other events in American History of that time period.




The following websites are the ones the students would go to for researching primary sources about the California Gold Rush.   Some of these sites only have images, but by looking at the images, they can get an idea of what was going on, what the people wore, etc.  I have commented about the websites for my own references.


 The first two websites are entries from John Sutter’s diary about the discovery of Gold at Sutter’s Fort.

This is an awesome collection about the gold rush-many pictures and exhibits-requires shockwave to view video


This website has an eyewitness account about what was going on in the gold fields.


This website contains information about the Gold Rush and pictures from that time frame.


This website contains images from the Gold Rush and other events of that time


The discovery of Gold-49ers and what happened when gold was discovered


A virtual site of California Gold County


This is an interactive site for kids to learn about the Gold Rush and the 49ers.



Secondary Sources of other events that were taking place at the same time period as the gold rush:

Explains westward expansion as a result of the gold rush

Information about 49ers

About the discovery of gold and events caused by this discovery

A brief timeline of events that were happening in American History at the same time as Gold Rush (Underground Railroad) This would be a great site for students.  This website is concise. Gives students an idea what a time line is like.




Upon collection of each group’s timeline, I will check that the students have accurate facts listed.  Also, I will check to see that each group has 10 facts about John Sutter, and 3 facts about other events that were occurring at that time frame in American History.  I will also read what the students wrote to make sure their spelling and punctuation is correct.  Students should have selected an appropriate font (not too small or too large-facts should fit appropriately on the timeline, and should include pictures.



This lesson would be an extension to the text used in the fourth grade class-Scott Foresman, History-Social Science, OUR CALIFORNIA- UNIT 3 Early History to Statehood-“How Did the discovery of gold affect California.-Lesson 3”

This Lesson has one paragraph stating that gold was discovered in January 1848, by James Marshall in Coloma next to the American River, and one picture of Sutter’s Mill.  This unit would be more engaging to students and enhanced by using technology and having students search the web to find more information and then process the time span of this information by creating a time line.  This lesson would not happen all in one day   Since the fourth graders have computer lab only once a week for 45 minutes, it may take a long time to complete this project during the allotted class time.  After two in class periods, the students will have to work on this project at home.  They will have to decide what facts they will include and work out who will do the word processing and gather the pictures.  My concern is that if this becomes a take home project, the work may not be divided equitably.  I will have to monitor that everyone in the group of 3 works on the project equally.  Also, I found an abundance of information, which I have included.  When actually teaching the lesson, I will have to narrow down the choice of websites, because it will be too overwhelming.  I have just left them included for my own reference.  I am also concerned that some of the material is at a higher reading level than the students can comprehend.  This would be solved by assigning groups and putting less advanced readers with the more advanced students in the class, so that they can help with the comprehension.  Also, if we do this lesson where all students in the class go to a website at the same time, and teacher helps with walkthrough of the website, it would help to answer any questions that the student’s may have, and also would help the students pick out important facts from the website.

The Gold Rush