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America the Beautiful Quarters® Program
Lesson Plan Starters

Grades 9 through 12

Objectives

To explore the rich history and environment of national sites using the United States Mint's America the Beautiful Quarters® Program

You Just Had to Be There

Subject Area

Language Arts

Summary

See the national parks and forests from a different perspective by completing a RAFT writing assignment.  Start by choosing from the list of designated sites.  RAFTS allow you to choose your role (R), audience (A), format (F) and topic (T).  For example, you might choose to be an experienced guide (R) who is preparing to take a group of inexperienced campers (A) on a camping trip (T) in Mt. Hood National Forest.  In preparing for the trip, you create a list (F) of the Top Ten Things You Should Know Before Coming to Mt. Hood National Forest.  Or you can create your own RAFT writing assignment.

Postcards from the Park

Subject Areas

Science, Social Studies, Language Arts

Summary

Create a travelogue on a designated site of your choice.  Write a series of informative postcards back to your geography or science classmates.  Choose a specific topic from the content area of your choice and focus your text and illustrations on that topic and content area.  You may create digital postcards using multimedia software or traditional postcards using art supplies.

Seeing It from Both Sides

Subject Areas

Social Studies, Language Arts

Summary

Research the conflicts that have arisen between conservationists and developers in Yosemite National Park.  Write the transcript for a debate that could have taken place between these two parties or record yourself and a classmate holding a debate that could have occurred.  The debates can be recorded ahead of time and shown in class or take place live in front of a panel of student judges.

Environment PSA

Subject Areas

Science, Technology

Summary

Research a unique environmental problem at one of the designated sites.  Create a series of public service announcements that highlight this problem and possible solutions.  Present your public service announcements in a multimedia format such as a podcast, short Web video, or act it out in front of a live audience.

Virtually There

Subject Areas

Technology, Social Studies, Language Arts, Science, Math

Summary

The National Park Service has hired you to create an electronic field trip to one of the designated sites.  Your field trip may be designed for any grade level and can be specific to a particular subject area.  Make sure your content is not only accurate but appropriate for the selected age and content area.  Share the electronic field trip by creating a Web quest for other students, a multimedia presentation, or a podcast with audio directions for the field trip.  Share the completed product with students from another class or grade level.

Pitch an Ad

Subject Area

Technology

Summary

Use your creative genius to produce a series of print, video, or audio advertisements for one of the designated sites.  Be prepared to share your product and "sell" it to a tour company specializing in school group tours.  Have the class rate the effectiveness of the pitch.

Mountains, Mesas and More

Subject Areas

Social Studies, Science

Summary

Research some of the landforms found in the different national sites depicted on the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program coins.  Choose one of the landforms and create a podcast or multimedia presentation on that particular landform.  Focus on the physical characteristics of the landform, what makes it different from other landforms, and how the landforms affect people, plants, and animals.

If You Could Talk to the Animals

Subject Areas

Science, Technology

Summary

In honor of the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History is creating an exhibit on the animals of the sites.  As part of its outreach to schools, the Museum is putting together multimedia travel trunks to be sent to the schools and has hired you to create one.  Choose a national site and create a presentation on the animals found there.  Share the presentations with other classes.

Your Coin Scrapbook

Subject Areas

Social Studies, Art

Summary

As a dedicated coin collector, you will want to not only collect all of the coins in the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program, but you'll also want to gather information about all of the sites featured on the coins.  Create a scrapbook (digital or print) that includes all the released coins along with a narrative describing the scene depicted on each and a "Top Ten" list of important facts about each site.

How They Survived

Subject Area

Science

Summary

You've been hired as a cook for a summer outdoor program in Yellowstone National Park.  One of the highlights of the program is a week-long camping excursion into the Park.  As cook for the group, you know you will not be able to actually live off the foods found in the park but you would like to educate the campers in what life might have been like for the early settlers of the region.  Create sample menus using what early explorers might have been able to gather in the park or create a "what to look for" guide to help participants identify sources of food that may have been used.

A Balancing Act

Subject Areas

Science, Language Arts

Summary

Wolves were not found in Yellowstone National Park for many years.  Their reintroduction into the Park was somewhat controversial.  Examine their reintroduction and the impact it had on the ecosystem of the Park.  Write an essay supporting or opposing the reintroduction plan based solely on the scientific evidence you find to support your argument.

Animals Come and Animals Go

Subject Areas

Science, Language Arts

Summary

Choose one or more of the designated sites and evaluate the past and potential future impact of climate change on the animals and/or plants of the park.  Demonstrate your findings in a multimedia or written report and share it with the class.

Looking Into the Crystal Ball

Subject Area

Language Arts

Summary

In preparation for the centennial of the national parks in 2016, surveys were done whose information was used to shape future goals for the national parks.  Design and conduct your own survey and use your findings to establish goals for the national parks.  There are many government websites that can help you understand more about the national park system.

Telling Their Stories

Subject Areas

Social Studies, Language Arts

Summary

The rich history of the national sites includes the stories of thousands of people.  Choose a site and a person (fictional or real) and write their story as a first-person narrative (through their eyes).  Add to your work by presenting this person's story orally to your class.  Consider supplementing your presentation with visuals or a costume.  You may also write and record the presentation ahead of time to create an audio learning exercise where each student can listen to an oral history and share what they have learned.

Days Gone By

Subject Area

Language Arts

Summary

Are you familiar with the glory days of radio?  During that time, radio theater plays were often performed.  Obviously, the actors couldn't rely on movement or facial expressions so they were forced to tell the story by expressive reading and many sound effects.  A narrator or narrators served the important role of filling in necessary details and describing the scene and action.  Write a radio theater presentation on a topic of interest to you that focuses on one of the designated sites.

You Were There

Subject Area

Language Arts

Summary

Choose one of the designated national sites.  Conduct an "interview" or series of interviews with a person (or several people) important to the history or development of your chosen site.  Enhance your research by recording this interview or presenting it as a live news conference to your class.

Assessment Ideas

  • Create a rubric using the rubric template, have students create a rubric, or use your favorite rubric modified for each lesson plan idea.  Rubric categories could include historical accuracy of information, grammar and mechanics, creativity, and overall quality of presentation.  If desired, each student could create a fifth category targeting the unique attributes of his/her product.
  • While the lesson starters above are designed to be utilized with technology assignments can also be written.  Some great technology infusion ideas include creating podcasts, recording video presentations, creating student-designed websites to showcase student work, and making dynamic multimedia presentations.
  • Self, peer, and teacher evaluations should be utilized.  Have students share their work outside of class to gain additional feedback.

Related Links


The Department of the Treasury Seal