Chicago, from the Fire to the Fair (1871 1893) An Inquiry Unit For Grades 6 to 8 Lesson Sequence

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Chicago, from the Fire to the Fair (1871 -- 1893)
An Inquiry Unit


Grades 6 to 8
Lesson Sequence:
Throughout the unit,

  • Teacher read alouds from Jim Murphy’s The Great Fire, Donald Miller’s City of the Century, Richard Peck’s Fair Weather, etc.

  • Learning Logs

  • Anticipation Guides for each part of the unit

  • Clips from PBS, The American Experience, Chicago: City of the Century

  • Mini-lessons and modeled writing lessons as needed

Introductory Activity
Part 1, The Fire

What about Mrs. O’Leary’s cow? (Excerpt from Jim Murphy’s The Great Fire)

Mapping the Fire (Nat’l. Archives Map Analysis Worksheet)

Hilda’s Memory of the Great Fire (WPA Life History; Nat’l. Archives Written Word Analysis)

Justin Writes about the Great Fire (Letter; Information Chart comparison)

Comparing History Stories (Compare encyclopedia entry to personal stories of Hilda & Justin)

Writing Task: Write an explanation of the Great Fire for 2nd/3rd graders, combine personal response with factual information.
Part 2, Rebuilding the City

The Rebirth of the City of the Century (Compare maps, 1871/1893, from LOC to contemporary Chicago)

Designing the New City (Architects, Burnham and Sullivan; read biographies; examine examples of their work; complete I Chart to plan for Writing Task)

Writing Task: Use information recorded on I Chart to write essay defining the Chicago School of Architecture.
Part 3, The Haymarket Affair

Made in Chicago (Complete I Chart for 19th century Chicago businessmen and inventors; follow-up whole class discussion)

The Haymarket Affair (Read “Haymarket Affair Chronology;” read Albert Parsons’s Autobiography, complete Nat’l. Archives Written Word Analysis worksheet; discuss with research partner; explore “The Dramas of Haymarket” with partner, complete Discussion Web re: verdict; whole-class discussion/debate on evidence presented in trial)

Writing Task: Read Gov. Altgeld’s “Statement of Pardon” and decide whether his pardon of three Haymarket prisoners was justified. Use Persuasive Essay Graphic Organizer to plan an essay explaining position.

The Friend of Mad Dogs (Political cartoon; Nat’l. Archives Cartoon Analysis worksheet; whole-class discussion/debate)
Part 4, How People Lived

What Do Numbers Tell Us? (Data set from the appendix of Jacob Riis’s How the Other Half Lives; complete data analysis activity sheet)

What Do Maps Tell Us? (Maps from Jane Addams Memorial Collection, UIC, depicting immigrant neighborhoods and infant mortality; respond to “Questions for Map Analysis;” follow-up whole-class discussion)

The Life of Bertha and Potter Palmer (Photos of interiors, Palmer Mansion & Palmer House Hotel; Nat’l. Archives Photo Analysis worksheet)

Read More about It (Link to excerpt from Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle)

The Reformers: The Refining Power of Beauty (Jane Addams and George Pullman; read about the “great art” program at Hull House and the utopian workers’ town of Pullman; respond in Learning Logs)

Read More about It (Link to excerpt from Jane Addams’s Twenty Years at Hull House)

The Politician (Carter Harrison, Sr; read his biography and his 1893 inaugural address; follow-up whole-class discussion)
Part 5, The World’s Columbian Exposition

Enjoy a “Virtual Tour of the World’s Columbian Exposition”!

Culminating Projects

Introductory Activity:
Teacher explanation of unit’s objectives and read aloud from Donald Miller’s City of the Century.
Independent: Complete “Chicago Events” activity sheet, record chronological order of events

Partners: Check “Chicago Events” activity at eCUIP website; select 1 event & find two facts about it to report to class. Explore other Internet sites listed.

Whole Class: Follow-up discussion of “Chicago Events,” reports on events and websites
Optional: Create a Chicago timeline bulletin board.

Culminating Projects:
Topics: Choice from PBS’s City of the Century website “People and Events”

  • Editorial essay

  • Historical fiction with 12 yr. old witness as the narrator

  • Poster including visual, describe person/event and effect on Chicago

Brief oral presentations
Assessment: Adapted Spandel’s 6 Traits for 1st 2 formats; adapted rubistar rubric for posters
Field Trip:
Chicago Historical Society

1601 N. Clark

Chicago, IL 60614

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