A. Christine Seeds
EDCI 5790, Dr. Edward Janak
Unit Plan Overview/Link
March 2, 2006
General Topic: Of Mice and Men written by John Steinbeck
Why do my students need to know about this topic?
Well, this is a commonly taught novel at the freshmen level. It also has been a part of the curriculum for the past four years. It covers several of the state standards and it an excellent precursor to the Body of Evidence project students complete at the end of the semester over the novel, The Shakespeare Stealer. Students typically like this novel because Lusk is a rural, ranching and agriculture based community and they can relate to the characters wanting to own a dream ranch.
A community rich in tradition and interesting factoids, Niobrara County is a small, rural area with a strong background in agriculture, and an unbelievable sense of community pride.
Interestingly, Lusk was named for Frank Lusk, an early rancher who donated land for the town site. Another little, but well-known fact is that Lusk had one of the earliest known legal prostitution madams named Mother Featherlegs. As of the 2000 census, the town of Lusk had a total population of 1,447. However, if one was to include the surrounding rural communities, the total population is about 2,302 (Demographics for Lusk, Wyoming, 2004).
While this community has little diversity in terms of ethnic composition, according the 2000 census, the racial makeup of the town is 97.86% white; .21% African American; .62% Native American; .14% Asian; 0.0% Pacific Islander; .41% from other races and .76% from two or more races. There is 1.59% of the population that is Hispanic or Latino of any race. Again, according to census reports, these percentages appear to remain rather stagnant throughout the 1970's, 1980's and 1990's (Demographics for Lusk, Wyoming, 2004).
When looking at statistics for income, it is imperative to learn about the employers that provide this economic base for the income generated. While the principal economic activities within the county are ranching, dry land agriculture, oil production and retail trade, it is interesting that the largest employer in the county is the public school system with a total of 120 employees. Following close behind is the Union Pacific Railroad with 100 employees. The Wyoming Woman's Center is the state prison for women and they employ 83 people (Niobrara County, 2004).
After evaluating the county demographics, the next logical inquisition would be the educational opportunities in Niobrara County. The primary language spoken in the home is English and approximately 14% of all students are on Individual Educational Programs (IEP's). Sadly, total student enrollment is rapidly declining. In September 2002, Niobrara County Schools boasted 400 total students. As of September 2005, there are 345 total students enrolled. Obviously, this number is decreasing sharply as can be seen when compared to previous years such as in September 2004, there were 360 students enrolled which was down from September 2003 when there were 386 students overall in the district. Currently 22% of the total, school age population is on free and reduced lunch (Tully, 2006).
Niobrara County High School (NCHS) is the only secondary school in the county. As of September 2005, there were 134 students enrolled in grades 9-12. There are 13.87 staff members equaling a student to teacher ratio of 10 students to each teacher on average. In 2004-2005, NCHS only had two students who officially "dropped out." The ethnicity breakdown at NCHS is 97.5% white, .3% Black, 1.4% Hispanic, .7% American Indian and .1% Asian (Tully, 2006).
Overall, Niobrara County is a fairly decent place to live. Even if there isn't a lot of cultural opportunities or racial diversity, there are adequate schools and plenty of wide-open spaces and fresh air. Unfortunately, many people are only familiar with Lusk because of the one gas station, which is the last station for 81 miles to the North, 52 miles to the West, 60 miles to the South and 32 miles to the East. So, if one ever travels through, it would be a good bet to fill up the gas tank, or else risk being stranded.
Please go to the link to view the complete unit and the 6, individual lesson plans. You should be able to click on the attachments and individual lesson plans (if all is well in the technical world). I am confident that all of the required elements from overview, selection of content/rationale, standards, organization and assessment plans are clear. Enjoy!
(2004). Niobrara county, lusk. (Pamplet). Wyoming: North East Wyoming Economic
Demographics for lusk, wyoming. (2004). Retrieved Sep. 11, 2005, from
Sinise, G (Director). (1992) Of Mice and Men [Film]. United States: MGM/UA.
Tully, J. (2006, February 27). [Personal Interview]. Lusk, WY.