Project Overview

Teaching Ideas

Teaching Tips

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Project Overview

Westward HO! is a five week classroom project. In the first week, you will organize your learners for the adventure, helping them assume real identities, organize into wagon families, pack their belongings, buy their supplies, and acquire background knowledge of the period.

The second, third, and fourth weeks are structured by the Travel and FATE cards. Your class will travel along the Oregon Trail through the Travel and FATE scenarios. The Travel and FATES provide opportunity for simulated experiences, further research, and authentic collaboration by your student wagon families. Your students will participate in making cooperative decisions that decide their fate on the Oregon Trail.

Each week, a student TRAIL MEETING is held. Conducted by the Wagonmaster as a guided discussion, the meeting allows students to share, in character, the week's trail decisions, adventures, disasters and triumphs. In weeks two through five, this meeting is used, as well, to make an important trail decision together, as a Wagontrain.

During their five weeks "on the trail" students can: trade and barter for livestock or needed supplies, offer their hand in marriage or seek a sweetheart or spouse, look for work or offer jobs to others, by posting their needs at the "Pioneer Trading Post." They can share news of their life on the trail and their adventures on the "Pioneer Bulletin Board."

Encourage your pioneers to keep and publish trail journals and/or family stories. Have them participate in SIDE TRIPS selected from our suggestions or developed by you to meet your particular curricular needs. Dress in costume, sing, play games of yore, square dance, perform, cook, sew, and immerse your class in the adventure. This is engagement in "reliving history"!

General Reminders

  1. Read the lesson ideas may use them to provide a structure for the project or you may do it "your way."
  2. There are more Travel and FATE cards than any class can do in a week. Pick and choose those that meet the needs and interests of your learners.
  3. Engage your students in your own extended learning activities and in collaborative, project work.
  4. Download and use, as desired, the appropriate set of student handouts.
  5. Communicate with other teachers through our mailing list - ask questions, share successes, inform us of your classroom adventures - we have much to learn from one another!
Classroom Resources
  1. Lesson Ideas
  2. Teaching Tips: Identities, Supply List, Budgets, Time Requirements
  3. Student Handouts and Resources
  4. Tips for participation in CHAT (sent through the teacher listserv)
  5. The General Store offering print and and web resources; curricular Side Trips

Sharing Responsibility

Your success with this project depends on the learning experiences YOU create in YOUR classroom. The simulation provides a structure and pacing, but you must teach, adapt and adopt according to the needs of your students and your classroom schedule. We provide the scaffolding and community... you create the exciting classroom curriculum enhanced and supported by the online activity. Yeeeeeeeehaaaaaaaa, Pardners!

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General Store/Resources



Travel & Fates

Map of Oregon Territory Classroom Teacher, The Wagonmaster
© 1991 - 2013Leni Donlan and Katheleen Ferenz
All Rights Reserved

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Last Updated: 12/24/12