The American West

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West Project

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Mr. TerBoss
Social Studies 8

The American West

Project Topic List

One Student per Topic per Class

Transportation & Technology

  1. Railroads: The “Iron Horse,” importance to western settlement, Transcontinental RR (Union Pacific, Central Pacific), Credit Mobilier Scandal

  2. Communication: Pony Express, Overland Mail (Butterfield Trail), Stagecoaches, Wells-Fargo, Telegraph

  3. Traveling West: Wagon Trains, Conestoga Wagon, Prairie Schooner, Hardships, Donner Party, etc.

  4. New Technology: steel plow, barbed wire, telegraph, new inventions that benefited the West

Native American Life/People

  1. Plains Indians: way of life, customs, traditions, tribes (Sioux, Cheyenne, Crow, etc.)

  2. Buffalo: importance to Native Amers, buffalo hunters (Buffalo Bill), disappearance of & affect on Nat Amers

  3. Sioux Tribe: Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse

  4. Nez Perce Tribe: Chief Joseph - “I will fight no more forever.”

  5. Apache Tribe: Geronimo, Cochise

  6. Great Chiefs (other than those already mentioned in 7-9): Red Cloud, Black Kettle, Big Foot, Gall, etc.

The “Indian Wars”

  1. Indian Massacres: Sand Creek (Chivington), Washita River, Fetterman, etc.

  2. Broken Promises: Treaties, Reservations, Dawes Act, Fort Laramie

  3. Battle of Little Bighorn: Custer’s Massacre, Custer’s Last Stand

  4. Wounded Knee: Ghost Dance, Wovoka, Sitting Bull

  5. Life in the U.S. Cavalry: Western soldiers after the Civil War, frontier forts

  6. Famous “Indian Fighters”: Custer, Chivington, Fetterman, Crook, Miles, Sheridan, Sherman, etc.

Cowboys and Settlers

  1. Cowboys/Cattle Kingdom: equipment, jobs, branding, cow towns, long drives, open range, myth vs. reality

  2. Pioneers/Prairie Life: Homesteaders/Sodbusters, Homestead Act, farming in the West, Laura Ingalls Wilder & Willa Cather (authors), sod houses

  3. African Americans in West: Buffalo Soldiers, Exodusters (Ben Singleton), Cowboys (Bill Pickett, Nat Love)

  4. Women in the West: average (pioneer women) vs. famous (Annie Oakley, Belle Starr, Calamity Jane)

  5. Populist Party/The Grange (farmers): William Jennings Bryan, Wizard of Oz

  6. The Mormon Migration: Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Utah, etc.

The “Wild West”

  1. Mining in the West: California Gold Rush (Marshall, Sutter, 49ers), Comstock Lode, boomtowns, ghost towns

  2. Famous Lawmen: myth vs. reality (Earp Bros., Bat Masterson, Bill Hickock, Pat Garrett), Texas Rangers

  3. Outlaws/Gunfighters: myth vs. reality (Billy the Kid, Jesse James, Butch Cassidy, Hardin, Younger, Clanton)

  4. Mountain Men/Trappers/Fur Trade: Jim Bridger, Jim Beckwourth, Jedidiah Strong Smith, Joe Meek

Frontiersmen/ Explorers: John Fremont, Kit Carson

  1. Oklahoma Land Rush: boomers, sooners, Far and Away

The American West

Chapter 19 Project Assignment
This is the biggest project assignment of the year. The grade will make up 35-40% of your first marking period average. Included will be a written report, an oral presentation to the class (which will incorporate a visual), and a works cited. If you follow the directions and use my suggestions, your life will be made much easier. I suggest you begin working immediately on the project. If you wait, you will be overwhelmed!

Your assignment is to complete the following:

  1. Choose a topic from the list (one student per topic per class).

  2. Research your topic using a minimum of five sources. You must use at least two Internet sources and at least two books that are about or include your topic.

  1. We will spend six class periods in the computer lab and/or the library. The rest is up to you! There are numerous libraries in the area: George F. Johnson, Vestal, Binghamton.

  1. Write a 2-3 page report on your topic. See “Tips for Project” sheet for rules/suggestions. Title page must be included with report. No fancy binders!

  1. Construct a visual display that will be used as part of your oral presentation. This should be visually stimulating and creative. Examples include power point presentations, shoe box dioramas, collages, models, posters, pictures, maps, charts, graphs, objects, etc.

  1. Construct a works cited page for your sources. See “Works Cited Pattern Booklet” for the rules and the “tips” sheet for suggestions. This is graded by the librarian, so do it correctly.

  1. Give a 2-3 minute oral presentation to the class explaining your topic and using your visual aid as part of it. See the “tips” sheet for suggestions.

  2. Take a matching quiz on the project topics. Study the Topic List in this packet. That is what I used to make the quiz.

Your final grade will be determined using the following criteria:

  1. Written Report- 50 points

  2. Oral Report- 15 points

  1. Eye Contact (5)

  2. Volume-Clarity of Voice (5)

  3. Time Limit (5)

  • Visual Aid- 25 points (This is to be used in your oral presentation.)

  1. Works Cited Page- 10 points (Graded by the librarian.)

Important Dates:

Choose Topics______________________________

Class time for research in library/computer lab _______________________________

  1. Books only: Books &/or Computers:

*PROJECT DUE DATE____________________________

  1. to be handed in: written report with title page, visual aid, works cited (name on each)

  2. NO EXCEPTIONS, NO EXCUSES (20 off per day late, not accepted after 3 days)

Oral Presentations (3 days)__________________________________________________

  1. be ready to go on the first day!

Matching Quiz ___________________________

  1. This project will count for over 1/3 of your report card average. You cannot afford to take this lightly.

  2. You will be expected to complete most of the work (research, writing, visual, etc.) on your own time. Don’t wait until the due dates to get started! Budget your time wisely and don’t waste any!

I have read this packet and understand what is expected of me.
Student Signature: _________________________________________________
Parent/Guardian Signature: _________________________________________

Project Tips

Tips for Research:


Take notes on 3 x 5 cards.

Why? When using several sources, it’s easier to organize your paper when you can “shuffle” the cards in the order you want.


Limit each card to one thought or idea.

Why? Too much information o

n one card can get confusing and this makes it difficult to organize the paper.




copy the information word for word. Instead, get the main point of the author and put it in your own words.

Why? If you don’t copy when you take notes, you won’t cop

y in your report. Changing a word here or there is still copying.


Label each card at the top with:


subject of the information (upper left corner)


page information can be found on (upper right corner)



orks cited inf

ormation for each source should be put

on its own card.

Tips for the Paper:


Begin the paper with an introductory paragraph. This should introduce your topic to the reader and indicate what

the paper will be

about. This paragraph should be a minimum of 4


5 sentences.


The “body” of your paper includes the information gathered from your research. This will be the majority of your paper. The


of body paragraphs will be determined by th

e number of card piles (sorted by subject

4a). Small paragraphs with similar subjects

should be combined; large paragraphs should be sub




End the paper with a concluding paragraph. This will wrap everything up and give the paper a sense of fina

lity (closure). Hint: What

was your main point?


Double space, 11 pt Calibri font, 1”

margins on all sides, start on line 1 of every page, no headings, no page numbering


When you are done writing, read/edit your own paper. Then have someone els

e (parent) read/edit it for grammar, punctuation,

spelling, etc.

Tips for the Oral Presentation:


Do NOT read a speech from a piece of paper. If you need to use 3 x 5 cards with key pieces of information, use only occasion

ally. I

want you to talk to t

he class. Teach us!!! Don’t just read a speech.


Make eye contact with your audience (not just me,

either). Look at us when you talk.


Project your voice (loud and clear). You’re the expert! Show us what you know.


Use your visual aid as part of your p

resentation. Explain what you did and how it relates to your topic.


Stick to the main points and ideas of your topic. We don’t need to know every single detail.


PRACTICE your oral report at home and time yourself.

Tips for the Works Cited:


Use the “W

orks Cited Pattern Booklet” as a guide. Write your entries exactly as shown (in order, punctuation, capitalization,

underlining, etc.)


Entries must be in alphabetical order according to the first letter of the entry.


The first line is all the way to the

left. All other lines in that entry are indented 5 spaces. Start under the 6



Example: _________________________________ line 1

______________________________ line 2

______________________________ line 3



ntries are double spaced (just like the paper).


Don’t label your entries with numbers or


American West Project: Final Checklist


Do you have a title page?



Title centered with name, period, due date and my name in lower right corner


Photos, graphics, borders, etc. are acceptable


One staple in upper left corner, no covers/protectors



your paper at least two full pages, going onto a third?



Calibri 11 point font, 1” margins on all sides, double




No extra lines between paragraphs or at top, no page numbering or headings


Is the paper in your own words?



Are y

ou using vocabulary that’s suitable for your age? Do you understand

everything in your paper? Does your paper “flow?”


Have you read and edited your

paper? Has someone else? ______


If it doesn’t make sense to you, it won’t make sense to me either.


Have Mom

&/or Dad read it. Value their feedback!


Have you practiced your oral prese

ntation at least 3 times? _____


make eye contact with audience, project voice, 2


3 minutes long


Don’t read speech, teach us (you’re the expert!), lose gum, stand up straight



your visual show a lot of hard work & effort? ________


This is worth 25 pts, graded solely on effort. Is your name/per somewhere on it?


How much time and energy did you put into it? Does it show?


Will you get full credit for your Works Cited? _______



the info for each entry in the correct order? Is the punctuation correct?


Are the entries in alphabetical order? Are there labels? (shouldn’t be!)


Are entries double


spaced, 11 pt. Calibri font?


Is first line of each flush left with additional lin

es indented 5 spaces?


Are there at least 5

sources listed? Is your name/per on it?


Is the page labeled Works Cited?


Have you gone over the “Tips Sheet” one last time? ________


That information is advice to help you get the highest grade you can!



you gone over your grading rubric? What grade would you

give yourself? Be honest about it! _______ (see back of this page)


If you didn’t give yourself a high grade, do you think I’m going to?


Fix what needs to be fixed!

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