Houghton Mifflin Social Studies
A More Perfect Union
Lesson at a Glance
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Grade 8 Home
Chapter 14, Lesson 1: A Time of Change (pp. 410-414)
The Big Idea
Framework Concept: Technology Railroads and mining changed the way white
settlers experienced the West.
- Present the geographical features of the West that made travel
and settlement by whites difficult before railroads. Describe the
building of the transcontinental railroad, including who worked on
it and what problems they encountered, and how this new technology
linked the two coasts.
- Describe the advantages railroads offered to miners,
especially mining companies. Talk about the Comstock Lode
in Nevada, and why silver mining there was different from
surface mining. Discuss the appeal of such mines, and how
boom towns sprang up to accommodate miners.
Use the Lesson Outline to preview the content of the lesson.
You may wish to print it for your students as a guide during reading.
Check for Understanding
- Divide the class in half. Assign students in one half the
role of a Chinese immigrant working from west to east on the
transcontinental railroad, and the other half the role of an
Irish immigrant working from east to west. Have each student
write a letter home describing his or her experience, including
descriptions of the geography and working conditions.
- Have students use the map of major railroad lines on page
412 to plot journeys from: Duluth, Minnesota to Los Angeles,
California; and from New Orleans, Louisiana to Tacoma, Washington.
Ask each student to record which rail lines he or she would ride, in
what order, and how many miles the journeys would cover.
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