Grade: 3-5

#792. 1859 Pikes Peak Gold Rush

Reading/Writing, level: 3-5
Posted Thu Mar 4 08:43:13 PST 2010 by Robin Moore (Robin Moore).
Regis University Masters Program, Colorado Springs USA
Materials Required: Novel: "I Witness: Hard Gold: The Colorado..." by Avi - paper pencils, envelopes
Activity Time: 45 minutes
Concepts Taught: Reading, Writing with perspective and voice, letter writing

Colorado History Lesson

Name: Robin Moore
Title: 1859 Pikes Peak Gold Rush
Content Area: History/Writing Grade: 4 Duration: 45 min.
Standards and Benchmarks:

Academic: Reading, Writing with Perspective and Voice, Letter Writing
History: Gold Rush in Colorado in the 1800's

-Using their knowledge from reading the literature, students will be the voice of Early Whitcomb and compose a letter to his Uncle Jesse trying to persuade him to allow him to join him in Colorado.
-Students will demonstrate correct letter writing components along with writing with perspective and voice. (Avi, 2008)
Resources and Materials:

-"I Witness: Hard Gold: The Colorado Gold Rush of 1859: A Tale of the Old West" by Avi
-paper, pencils, envelopes

-Group brainstorming
-Differentiation of academic levels will be handled with the follow up activity by coordinating the letter reading groups.
Preparing Students for the Lesson:
• Transitions
• Expected Behaviors
-Gather students around chart paper.
-Let them know that they will be taking on the voice of Early.
-Active participation and group brainstorming will be expected.

Teaching the Lesson (Lesson Sequence/

• Motivation/
Anticipatory Set

• Pre-Assessment/

• Teacher Input, Modeling, & Checking for Understanding

• Guided Practice

• Independent Practice

• Closure
-Using chart paper the instructor will brainstorm arguments from Early's point of view of why he should be allowed to join Uncle Jesse.

-Brainstorm with the students on how correspondence was achieved in the 1800's.

-Lead into the components of letter writing.

-Post the prompt using RAFT:
R: role: - Early
A:-audience- Jesse
T:- topic-After reading Jesse's letter about finding gold, but also about that his life may be in danger, Early responds with a letter trying to persuade Jesse to allow him to join him in Colorado.

-Each student will compose a letter, check that the letter writing components are correct, address an envelope and submit to the class mailbox.

-Follow up the following day by having groups read letters together charting the similarities and differences between the different arguments.


-Assessment will include:
-active engagement by students
-cooperative and supportive teamwork
-correct letter writing components
-persuasive arguments that are relevant to the story
Notes This lesson is to be used in conjunction with Colorado History Unit-combined with the literature unit on the above stated historical fiction novel. It will tie in cross curriculum activities.

Avi. (2008). I Witness: Hard Gold: The Colorado Gold Rush of 1859: A Tale of the Old West. New York: Hyperion Books For Children.