Lesson #8
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The Irish Move West

Background and Rationale: 

This is the third lesson of the second week of a unit which examines coerced Irish migration to Iowa for a grade 10-12 advanced placement, American Studies class. Having learned about the networks which provided necessary support for Famine Irish immigrant survival in America , students begin the discussion of the Famine Irish immigrant experience in Iowa .

Why? Famine Irish walked, road wagons, and journeyed by railroad to Iowa , breaking trails and pioneering in the under-populated state. Many of Iowa 's communities were established by Irish immigrants.

Objectives and Procedures: 

(50 minute class period)

Given the following activities, the students will:

Identify characteristics of Iowa in the 1860s
Identify characteristics which compelled Famine Irish immigrants to settle in urban centers
Create their own conceptual knowledge of individual migration through writing a historical journal

Teaching strategies:

Guided discussion
Applying concept understanding through writing historical journals.


Sequence of Events:

Minutes 1 through 5:
Administrative functions (attendance)

Minutes 5 through 10:
Topic introduction/hand out materials

Minutes 10 through 15:
Lecture: Iowa in 1860 (railroads, the land, the American Dream)

Minutes 15 through 20:
Discussion of Iowa in 1860

Minutes 20 through 25:
Lecture: the gregarious Irish

Minutes 25 through 30:
Discussion on ethnic characteristics

Minutes 30 through 35:
Lecture: the ill-prepared and ill-furnished Famine Irish immigrants

Minutes 35 to 40:
Discussion on skills necessary for success in the American West

Minutes 40 through 45:
Individual work on journals

Minutes 45 through 50:


Guided discussion

How will I know this is working?

            a) Enthusiastic discussion of lecture topics
            b) Enthusiastic discussion of completed journals

Associated projects: Historical journals (modified version of project from Fortman, N. in bibliography)

Readings :