North to Alaska and Gold: Denali National Park and Preserve

Summary

Students will compare and contrast the California Gold Rush with the Gold Rush that took place in Alaska.

Coin Type(s)

  • Quarter

Coin Program(s)

  • America the Beautiful Quarters

Objectives

Students will compare and contrast the California Gold Rush with the Gold Rush that took place in Alaska.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Social Studies

Grades

  • 9th
  • 10th
  • 11th
  • 12th

Class Time

  • Sessions: Three
  • Session Length: 45-60 minutes
  • Total Length: 121-150 minutes

Groupings

  • Whole group
  • Small groups
  • Individual work

Terms and Concepts

  • California Gold Rush
  • Alaska Gold Rush

Materials

  • Internet
  • Worksheets
  • Writing tools

Preparations

Worksheets

Worksheets and files (PDF)

Lesson Steps

  1. Display and examine the Denali National Park quarter design. Locate this site on a class map. Display and examine the Denali National Park quarter design. Locate this site on a class map. As background information, explain to the students that the United States Mint began to issue the quarters in the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program in 2010. By the time the program ends in 2021, there will be a total of 56 designs on the back of the coin. Each design will focus on a different national site—one from each state, territory, and the District of Columbia.
  2. Review with the students the conditions and events leading to the Gold Rush in California in 1848 and the following years. Then explore some commonalities between this and other gold rushes throughout the world.
  3. Discuss the geographical significance of Mt. McKinley, focusing on the 1880s gold rush.
  4. As a class, create a list of questions that a journalist might ask a person heading to California or Alaska to find gold and record the questions on the "A Reporter Wants to Know" worksheet.
  5. Divide the class into two groups called "Alaska" and "California." Have the students research the answers to the class-generated questions for their assigned area. Use the research to complete the Venn diagram on the "North to Alaska...and Gold" worksheet.
  6. Have the students write an essay focusing on the lessons a person participating in the California Gold Rush might give to a person heading to Alaska.
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Assess

  • Take anecdotal notes about the students' participation in the class discussion and group activity.
  • Evaluate the worksheets and essays for understanding of the lesson objectives.

Common Core Standards

This lesson plan is not associated with any Common Core Standards.

National Standards

This lesson plan is not associated with any National Standards.