Learning Experiences (Lessons) in Gilded Age Each learning experience takes about 45 minutes to teach in the device-enabled classroom.
Gilded Age: Vocabulary
Students engage with key vocabulary related to the Gilded Age in U.S. history. The experience can be used as an introduction or a review at the end of the unit.
The Transcontinental Railroad
Students learn about the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad and analyze the effect it had on the American West and the entire country’s economy. Then they describe some of the negative results of the railway system construction in the United States.
Big Business and Industrialization
Students read an excerpt from Twain and Wagner’s satiric novel, The Gilded Age, and predict characteristics of this period. Then they learn about the rise of big business and define related economic terms and create a concept map of characteristics. Next they learn about four leading industrialists—Carnegie, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, and Morgan—reflecting on why critics called them robber barons and examining Carnegie’s philosophy on philanthropy. Finally they analyze the Sherman Antitrust Act and the break up of the Standard Oil monopoly.
The Rise of Labor Unions
Students take a poll of work conditions brought about by labor union activity. Then they watch a video and read articles about the history of labor unions during the Gilded Age. Next they analyze one of three major strikes and its effect on three groups—workers, business owners, and consumers. Finally they evaluate the pros and cons of labor unions and analyze how unionization efforts at Starbucks shops across the nation might affect a part-time worker.
Developing the Western Frontier
Students learn about the Homestead Act of 1862 and how the new law affected western migration. Then they learn about the challenges that farmers faced and the alliances they established to overcome these challenges. Finally, students analyze how the Homestead Act contributed to the closing of the western frontier.
Policies Towards American Indians
Students learn about the impact of the western expansion of white settlers onto American Indian land. They examine U.S. policies toward American Indians, including the Dawes Act and the Carlisle Indian School. Finally, students develop their own policy towards the American Indians in the historical context of western expansion.
Western Industries: Ranching, Farming, and Mining
Students learn about the growth of the cattle industry following the Civil War. They identify some of the difficulties involved in cattle drives, and then they examine the growth of cow towns. Finally, they reflect on how the cattle industry contributed to westward expansion.
The Political Machine
Students read a quote from the Federalist Papers about the nature of government and name an event from any period of U.S. history that illustrates the quote. Then they learn about political machines of the Gilded Age, focusing on “Boss” Tweed. Next they analyze the causes and effects of civil service reform. Finally they examine some of Thomas Nast’s cartoons against Tweed and then write an op-ed article about the role of the media in supporting or destroying a politician’s reputation.
Social Issues of the Gilded Age
Students make observations about a drawing of twelve women sitting on a jury in 1902. Then they watch a video about continuity and change in the Gilded Age, and apply the concepts to four groups: African Americans, immigrants, women, and children. Next they focus on the Chinese Exclusion Act and infer why Congress singled out Chinese immigrants. Finally they choose one of the four groups and predict what Progressive Era activities would try to “fix” the social problems of that group.
Case Study: Innovations of the Late 1800s
Students create a case study of a major Gilded Age invention or innovation that has impacted the history of the United States. First they develop inquiry questions and conduct research to answer them. Then they following the writing process to create a written report. Next they work in small groups to prepare and deliver an oral report. Finally, they evaluate their presentation using a rubric.