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HistoryFix: Spiritual Waters...the History of Lake Tahoe

A Writing Across the Curriculum Lesson from HistoryFix
Historical Topic: Lake Tahoe Students Write: a structured poem

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Spiritual Waters

This writing across the curriculum lesson was created by Nevada teacher Denise Boswell.

Denise believes this history lesson be appropriate for students in grades 5-12.

Lesson Overview:

Objectives: Students will analyze primary source documents, pictures, and artifacts using describe, analyze, and interpret method; students will compare and contrast Tahoe City using a sketch from 1865 and a photograph of Tahoe City Today, and show understanding of cause and effect of the comparisons; students will compare and contrast Lake Tahoe from its past to its present

Time Needed: three 45-minute class sessions.

Writing skills (traits) to stress while teaching this lesson:

  • Idea Development (writing with a clear theme or topic in mind)
  • Word Choice (incorporating interesting adjectives and strong verbs)
  • Voice (conveying passion towards the topic; and making accomodations for the one's audience)
  • Conventions (using correct spelling and grammar)

Background Information:

Lake Tahoe was part of the seasonal round for the Washoe Indians. Each spring the Washoe tribe made its way from winter encampments in the Carson Valley up over the high passes into their summer ranges on the west shore of Tahoe’s “Big Water”. The Washoe called it Dao w a ga, the giver of life.

On February 14, 1844, life as the Washoe knew it would change forever. Lt. John C. Fremont and Kit Carson sighted the lake while searching for the Bonaventura River, the passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Materials List:

Teacher Instructions:

  • Read the children’s picture book, Washoe Seasons of Life, to the class. Have the class create a word splash about the book.

  • Pass out John C. Freemont’s Journal, Mark Twain’s Journal, 1865 sketch of Tahoe City, and photograph of Tahoe City today to students.

  • Pass out the primary source analysis worksheet to students.

  • Have students work in small groups to read and analyze their document.

  • Create a Venn diagram on chart paper; fill in the diagram as groups present their information about their document.

  • Have students work in groups to compare and contrast the 1865 sketch of Tahoe City and the photograph of Tahoe City today and make a list of cause and effects for the change.

  • Have groups share their ideas of the cause of effects for the changes in the pictures.

  • Pass out graphic organizer for I Used To Be poem.

  • Students write an I Used To Be, But Now I poem of Lake Tahoe using the information they learned. They can compose their rough draft on this rough draft sheet.

  • Evaluate students poems using this rubric.

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