Lesson #2 – The Great Chicago Fire of 1871



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Lesson #2 – The Great Chicago Fire of 1871
Teacher: Mrs. Dawn Thomson Date: March 20, 2012

Grade: 4th Subjects: Social Studies & Language Arts

Time: Day 1 – 1 hour & 30 minutes, Day 2 – 60 minutes, Day 3 – 30 minutes (closure)
1. Materials/Technology:


  • Computer with internet access

  • Paper & pencils

  • Instruction worksheets for the reporters & the victims

  • Rubrics

2. Illinois Goals, Learning Standards & Benchmarks:


Language Arts


  • State Goal 3: Write to communicate for a variety of purposes.


Learning Standard A: Use correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, capitalization and structure.

Benchmark 3.A.2: Write paragraphs that include a variety of sentence types; appropriate use of the eight parts of speech; and accurate spelling, capitalization and punctuation.
Learning Standard B: Compose well-organized and coherent writing for specific purposes and audiences.

Benchmark 3.B.2d: Edit documents for clarity, subjectivity, pronoun-antecedent agreement, adverb and adjective agreement and verb tense; proofread for spelling, capitalization and punctuation; and ensure that documents are formatted in final form for submission and/or publication.
Learning Standard C: Communicate ideas in writing to accomplish a variety of purposes.

Benchmark 3.C.2a: Write for a variety of purposes and for specified audiences in a variety of forms including narrative (e.g., fiction, autobiography), expository (e.g., reports, essays) and persuasive writings (e.g., editorials, advertisements).
Social Studies


  • State Goal 16: Understand events, trends, individuals and movements shaping the history of Illinois, the United States and other nations.

Learning Standard A: Apply the skills of historical analysis and interpretation.

Benchmark 16.A.2c: Ask questions and seek answers by collecting and analyzing data from historic documents, images and other literary and non-literary sources.
3. Performance Objectives:


  • Students will be able to explain key events of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

(lower order)


  • Students will be able to develop creative communication skills by interviewing and being interviewed by a partner.

(higher order)


  • Students will be able to compose a written assignment using correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

(higher order)
4. Intro/Anticipatory Set/Advanced Organizer/Focusing Event:
Motivation:
The teacher will motivate the students by telling them that today

one-half of the class will get to be newspaper reporters and one-half of the class will get to pretend that they survived a famous Chicago disaster over 100 years ago.


Bridge:
To bridge this lesson, the teacher will lead a short discussion, asking the students the following questions orally:

1. Does anyone know what year the Great Chicago Fire occurred?

2. What does a cow have to do with the Great Chicago Fire?

3. How many people were killed as a result of the Great Chicago Fire?


This short discussion will allow the students to recall prior knowledge they may already have about the Chicago Fire and prepare them for the lesson ahead.


5. Procedures:
DAY 1


  1. The teacher will show the students an 8-minute video about the Chicago Fire from youtube.com entitled “Great Chicago Fire 1871”.

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3Q3wwRAGiw


  1. After watching the video, the teacher will ask the students, in a group discussion format, the following questions in order to check their understanding:

    • Why was the city of Chicago built with wood prior to the fire?

(quick, easy, cheap)

    • What were the weather conditions during the summer of 1871 in Chicago?

(hot, dry, very little rain)

    • Where exactly did the fire begin? Has this been proven?

(the O’Leary barn on DeKoven St., yes, this has been proven)

    • Do you think the legend that the O’Leary cow kicked over a lantern to start the fire is true? Why or why not? What else could have started the fire?

(many possible answers)

    • What were the possible reasons that the Chicago Fire was finally extinguished?

(increase in humidity, small amount of rain that fell, burned itself out – no more fuel)

    • The video ends with a quote “Some people say the fire is the best thing to ever happen to the city of Chicago” (The Weather Channel, 2011). Can you imagine any reasons why someone would say the fire was the best thing to ever happen to Chicago?

(many possible answers)

    • The teacher will show and explain a map of the area that was destroyed by the fire on the video screen. The map also shows where the fire started and the direction it took. The map can be found at the following website:

http://greatchicagofire.org/browse-all-images.


  1. The teacher will explain the next step in the lesson. One-half of the students in the class will be newspaper reporters and one-half of the students in the class will be victims who lost their home in the Chicago Fire. Each reporter will interview one victim.




  1. The teacher will make sure that the students understand what will be required of each character. The reporters will be required to write a newspaper article describing the victim’s encounter with the fire. The reporter will ask questions of the victims and use the responses as a resource for the article. The victims will be required to write a diary entry with a step-by-step description of how they escaped from the fire, a list of at least 4 of their favorite items that were destroyed in the fire, and how they felt about the tragedy. All students will be encouraged to research the topic on the internet even further if they need more information. Separate instruction sheets will be provided for the reporters and the victims. The teacher will explain that if there is an uneven number of reporters or victims, she will randomly draw names out of a hat to even out the sides. The teacher will explain that the students will have 30 minutes of time in class today and 60 minutes of time in class tomorrow to work on this assignment. They may need to work on this assignment at home as well. The final writing assignment will be due on Friday (in 3 days).




  1. To decide who will be a reporter and who will be a victim, the teacher will do the following:




    • Ask each student to write their preference of reporter or victim on a piece of paper without talking to their classmates.

    • The students will be grouped by their choice on either side of the classroom.

    • If there is an uneven number, the teacher will randomly pull as many names as necessary out of a hat. These students will need to take on the other role in order to even out the sides.

    • The teacher will allow the students to choose a partner of the opposite character to work with. However, the teacher will assist in this process as necessary.




  1. The teacher will pass out the instruction sheet and rubric to each student based on his or her character.




  1. The teacher will then meet with the reporters as a group to further discuss their specific directions. The reporters will need to create 3 questions to ask the victims. The questions cannot be simple questions that would only elicit a yes or no answer. They must be detailed questions that require an explanation from the victim. The teacher will provide the example “Describe your escape from the fire”. The reporter will write the questions on a piece of paper, interview the victim, and record his or her response. The teacher will also further describe the actual writing assignment as described on the instruction sheet.




  1. While the teacher is meeting with the reporters, the victims will meet together and begin talking with each other about how it would have felt to actually survive the fire and lose all of their possessions.




  1. The teacher will then meet with the victims and further explain their directions. The victims will need to write down 2 facts or details of their experience in the fire that they believe the newspaper reporter must know. These could be any important facts such as their beloved family pet survived the fire or how much of a hero the family’s 8 year old son was. The teacher will also further describe the actual writing assignment as described on the instruction sheet.




  1. While the teacher is meeting with the victims, the reporters will begin creating the three questions they will ask the victims.




  1. The students will have 30 minutes to create their questions, work together in the interview, and begin their individual writing assignment.


DAY 2


  1. The students will have 60 minutes to work on their individual writing assignment. They may also conduct further research on the computer if necessary. The last 15 minutes of this time period will be spent in peer editing groups with the original partners. The partners will check each other’s writing assignment for spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors.


DAY 3
The students will turn in their assignment and participate in the closure discussion.
6. Closure:

This lesson’s closure activity will occur on day 3, immediately after the students turn in their assignment. The closure will occur at this time because the students will have a greater degree of knowledge once the entire writing assignment is complete.


The teacher will close the lesson by asking several students to share with the rest of the class some facts or details about the Chicago Fire that surprised them. There are many possible responses to this question, but some responses may include the fact that the cause of the fire was never proven, that the river caught on fire twice, or that the entire city was destroyed. The teacher will ask further questions based on the students’ responses in a group discussion format.
7. Assessment:


  • The teacher will assess student ability to explain key events of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 by listening to the group discussion after watching the youtube video, and also by listening to the closure activity responses.

  • The teacher will assess student ability to develop creative communication skills by interviewing and being interviewed by a partner by walking throughout the classroom during the interviews, listening to the interviews, and making sure the students are completing the assignment as instructed.




  • The teacher will assess student ability to compose a written assignment using correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation by checking the students’ completed writing assignment for accuracy.


8. Accommodations:
Marco: Before the students choose partners, the teacher will ask Marco if he prefers to partner with Cecilia, a bilingual Spanish/English speaking student in the class. If Marco does, the teacher will partner Marco with Cecilia. If he does not have a preference, the teacher will allow Marco to choose his own partner with the rest of the class. He will also be encouraged to use his Spanish/English dictionary if necessary.
Jenna: Jenna will be seated close to the video screen to maximize her ability to see the video. Before the students choose their partners, the teacher will ask Jenna if she has a preference on who her partner will be. Because Jenna likes to help struggling students, the teacher will assist her in choosing someone who would benefit from Jenna’s additional help.

Toni: Toni, like all other students, will be allowed the choice of being a reporter or victim. If the character that Toni chooses happens to be the one that has too many students, the teacher will ensure that Toni is allowed to keep her first choice.

Name:

Instructions for the Newspaper Reporters


  1. Create and write three questions that you would like to ask someone who lost his or her home in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.




  • The three questions cannot be questions that would only elicit a yes or no answer. They must be questions that would require the victim to comprehensively explain details or feelings. Write these three questions on the back of this instruction sheet.

  • Example question: “Please describe, step-by-step, your escape from the fire”.




  1. Interview the victim and record his or her responses underneath your questions.




  1. Write a newspaper article for the Chicago Tribune newspaper that tells the victim’s story. The newspaper article must contain:




  • An attention grabbing headline

  • Date of article (Remember when the fire occurred!!)

  • At least 3 paragraphs

  • The victim’s name and address of his or her home

  • At least 1 quote from the victim (be sure to use quotation marks!)

  • Correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar




  1. The website www.greatchicagofire.org is an excellent resource for further information about the fire.




  1. The newspaper article will be due on Friday, March 23rd. You must turn in this instruction sheet, with your 3 questions and the victim’s responses written on the back, with your newspaper article.



Name:

Instructions for the victims of the Chicago Fire


  1. Meet with the other victims of the Chicago Fire and discuss what happened to you and how that made you feel. Write down 2 important facts or details that you believe the reporter must know about your experience. Write these 2 facts on the back of this instruction sheet.




  1. Meet with a Chicago Tribune newspaper reporter. With comprehensive details, answer the reporter’s questions. If the reporter did not ask you about the 2 important facts or details that you wrote down, explain those details to him or her. Be creative and elaborate - remember, your story will be published in the Chicago Tribune newspaper!!




  1. Write a diary entry about your tragic experience with the Chicago Fire. The diary entry must contain:




  • The date of the diary entry (remember when the fire occurred!! Your diary entry will be written within a week or two after the tragedy!)

  • At least 3 paragraphs

  • A step-by-step description of how you escaped from the fire.

  • A list of at least 4 of your favorite items that were destroyed in the fire

  • A description of how this tragedy made you feel

  • Correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar




  1. The website www.greatchicagofire.org is an excellent resource for further information about the fire.




  1. The diary entry will be due on Friday, March 23rd. You must turn in this instruction sheet, with your 2 details or facts written on the back, with your diary entry.


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