Students are taken back to the year 1860 before there was a transcontinental railway. They are asked to speculate about the likely impact of the coming of the railroad.  In order to do this, students are placed in groups. They are each allocated a role. When they have explored their ideas, they then compare them with what did happen, before taking on the perspective of one of the groups affected and creating an interesting way of conveying their feelings and thoughts.

Learning objectives

  • students learn to predict and speculate from their own existing knowledge as to the likely impact of the railroads
  • they consider the pros and cons and learn to think laterally too
  • they are able to view events from the perspective of a number of groups
  • they present their findings in a creative way

Step 1

Introduce maps of the USA in 1850 and 1860 (slides 3 and 4 of the PowerPoint presentation) and ask the students to describe to their partner the major changes between 1850 and 1860. Each should have a go at offering at least 2 ideas. Explain that in 1860 the idea of a Transcontinental Railway connecting east and west had been mooted. Within

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