Business and Industry in Early Spokane

Kelly Kesle/Kathie Hayes
Unit Overview: Business and Industry in Early Spokane (1872-1900)

OverviewLearning Activities 1Learning Activities 2Photo Response ActivityReflection

As we are both middle school U.S. history teachers in the same building (Chase Middle School in Spokane), we decided to work collaboratively to develop a unit on business and industry in frontier Spokane. At the middle level, it is critical to develop lessons that address the various learning styles of the students. Therefore, we have created a unit that has been organized to meet the needs of a variety of learners as well as enrich their learning experience on the early history of the town in which they live. Within this unit, students will be engaged in both collaborative and individual work, immersed in both primary and secondary source material, actively participating in researching, writing, creating, and presenting, and enveloped in the intriguing atmosphere of business and industry in frontier Spokane.

First, each day while exploring frontier Spokane, the students will be participating in an entry task in which they will view a photograph taken from the period. They will be handed a slip of paper with questions relating to the photograph, they will be asked to carefully analyze the photograph, answer the questions, share with a partner, and then engage in large group discussion. The photographs have been chosen to specifically address business and industry involved in the development of Spokane. The length of time needed for this unit depends on the progress of the students. Ideally, this unit should be completed in five to seven days.

Secondly, at the onset of this unit, the students would be placed in cooperative groups. There are two ways in which this could be done. One is to divide the class into nine equal groups, as there are nine different categories/activities for learning about frontier Spokane. Another method would be to divide the board into nine columns, write the nine activity/category names on the board, and have each student place their name under the category that they are interested in. If the groups are unbalanced, ask for volunteers to go to their second choice, or the teacher can do this.

The categorties/activities we have developed include artists, biographers, cartographers, cause and effect, conservationists, chronologists, data gurus, job seekers, and journalists. Each of these groups has specific directions, requirements, resources, and materials that are explained in greater detail in each tabbed portion of this binder.

In addition to allowing time for students to use the primary and secondary source materials, the internet, and other resources to complete their assigned task(s), each group will be required to present their findings and/or final product to the class. Each group will be assessed using a presentation assessment form provided in the binder (individual teachers can modify this as they see fit). The overall learning objective is that students will be able to experience and learn about business and industry growth in frontier Spokane from a variety of perspectives and that enriched classroom discussions will evolve. It is our hope that the students will gain a new appreciation for the people, the events, and the changes that have helped create the Spokane in which they live today.

For our purposes, this unit will serve as a logical lead-in to our unit on Native Americans. The students will have a solid foundation of the growth of Spokane regarding business, industry, and people. Upon completion of this unit, we will begin our unit on Native Americans. After having explored the history of Native Americans in the United States from pre-history through the I 890s, it is our hope to refer back to our unit on frontier Spokane and take a look at the growth of Spokane from the perspective of the Native Americans in this area. Finally, we hope by having our students gain a basic knowledge of the history of the city in which they live that they will recognize that there are positive and negative outcomes of historical events depending on the perspective from which one is studying the past. Furthermore, we believe this unit will help our students see that knowledge of the past is critical to understanding where we were, where we are now, and the implications this has for the future.