Newscast from the past: Trails west

by Darla Mallein

Looking for a way to involve your students more actively in your Westward Expansion unit? This "Newscast from the Past: Trails West" project will not only get them involved, but it will also strengthen their communication skills as they research Western emigrant trails to help their class produce a 20-25 minute videotaped newscast about the Santa Fe, Oregon, Califnornia, Mormon, or Pony Express trails.

Highlights of the newscast project all for students to create news stories about the hisotry of the trail, uses of the trail, and life on the trail. Students are encouraged to use primaruy sources, such as the many diaries and journals that are available. To make the videotaped newscasts more interesting, the students will utilize costumes, props, and music from that time period. The format of the newscasts is left to each class.

For more detailed information about this project, you can request the unitpacket from the Center for Great Plains Studies. This packet includes the "Newscast from the Past: Trails West" handout that explains the project in detail, daily lesson plans, and all accompanying handouts needed to carry out the project. The packet also includes a list of websites and other resources to help your students research their assigned trails. The packet is available for $5.00 (to cover copying and postage costs).

To request the packet write:

Center for Great Plains Studies CB 4032,

Emporia State University

1200 Commercial

Emporia, KS 66801

If the newscast project doesn't fit the needs of your classroom or teaching style, but you would like more information about the emigrant trails, check out the following websites. All of these sites were "active" in July 1997. The sites are arranged by trail.

California Trail

Mormon Trail

The Oregon Trail

Pony Express

Santa Fe Trail

Other Related Websites

For a more complete list of websites and places to write for additional information, you may request must that part of the "Newscast from the Past" packet. Happy surfing!

* Darla Mallein, an eighth grade social studies teacher at Emporia Middle School, was the 1997 Kansas Teacher of the Year and one of five finalists for the National Teacher of the Year. The "Newscast from the Past" is part of an independent study project done for Professor Ron McCoy at Emporia State University.