Social Studies Unit ELL Classroom “Railroad influence in Tacoma: Past and Present”

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                                     Union Station, Tacoma WA

                                    Unit Planning Framework

                                     7th grade Social Studies

                                    Stage 1 – Desired Results

Established Goals:

  • Understands how themes and developments have defined eras in Washington State and world history by:
  • Explaining how the following themes and developments help to define eras in Washington State history from 1854 to the present:
    o Railroads, reform, immigration, and labor (1889—1930).
  • 4.2.3 Understands and analyzes how technology and ideas have impacted Washington State or world history.


Unit Outlines for 7th Grade History

  1. WA- Railroads, Reform, Immigration, and Labor (1889-1930)


EARL 3.2.1 Understands and analyzes how the environment has affected people and how people have affected the environment in Washington State in the past or present.



GLE 4.1.2. Part 5 Understands how themes and developments have defined eras in Washington State and world history by:

• Explaining how the following themes and developments help to define eras in Washington State history from 1854 to the present: o          New technologies and industries (1945—1980).

EARL 1- Integration
1.2: Collaborate: Use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.
1.3: Investigate and Think Critically: Research, manage and evaluate information and solve problems using digital tools and resources.
EALR 2 – Digital Citizenship
Students demonstrate a clear understanding of technology systems and operations and practice safe, legal and ethical behavior.
2.2: Operate Systems: Understand technology systems and use hardware and networks to support learning.


3. Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.

3. d. Use precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language to capture the action and convey experiences and events.

8. Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, using search terms effectively;


Understandings (including Propositions ++):
Students will understand that…
• Railroads were an important part of the economy of the City in the xix century.
• The raise of the automobile industry pushed the fall of the railroad industry.
• Union Station reflects Tacoma’s past glory.
• The change in economy affected Tacoma’s grandeur and help pushing the decay of the railroad.
• The economy in the XIX in Tacoma included fur trade and logging.
• Power Point is more than just presentational software.

• Movie Maker can also be used to create digital stories.
• Sound Narratives can be added to power point presentations to turn them into mini documentaries/digital stories using the Audacity software.
• Railroad history related to Union Station will be divided in 3 periods to be researched: Glorious days (red),decay (Green), and present state (light blue)
•Significant Events:
1883: Tacoma’s first rail station is built.
1892: As railroad use increases, the station is moved to the Pacific Avenue site, and enlarged.
1909-1911: Union Station is constructed on the site of the 1892 station.
1940s-1960s: As the automobile becomes increasingly popular, the passenger rail industry begins a prolonged decline.
• 1974: Union Station is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
• 1980: The seven-block area surrounding Union Station is designated a historic district and    listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
• 1984: The last passenger train departs from Union Station and the building is abandoned.
• 1987: The U.S. General Services Administration, with Congressional authorization, arranges a 35-year lease of the building from the city of Tacoma.
• 1990-1992: Union Station is rehabilitated and converted for use as a courthouse. An addition provides more space for use by the courts.

• Digital stories help ELLs express understanding relying on other media than written language. Additionally It has the potential to improve students’ literacy development , and learning how to work in collaborative tasks if the project is done as group work. Students benefits from being involved in active learning that produces relevant content. This type of learning promotes transfer as well, a very useful tool for ELLs to apply what they learn to other contexts.

Unit/Essential Questions:
• What provocative questions will foster inquiry, understanding, and transfer of learning?
• Why Tacoma needed trains?
• Why Tacoma build Union Station?
• What were trains used in Tacoma during the XIX century?
• What kind of goods trains transported in the XIX century?
• How Union Station reflects the splendor of Tacoma’s past?
• What were the causes and consequences of establishing the railroad in Tacoma?
Skills addressed


  • • SWBAT Research and document the history of the railroad in Tacoma , using databases and print resources, specifically around the construction of Union Station from 1800s until 1930 in a mini documentary.
    SWBAT research and document the history of the railroad and Union Station decline in Tacoma from 1940 to 1984; using databases and print resources.
    SBAT research and document the history of the Union Station new use as a court house, from 1987- now, and documents their findings in a mini documentary using databases and print resources



  • • SWBAT organize events in a timeline that serves as the base for their documentary script.


  • •SWBAT know how to use databases and print resources to help with their research.
    •SWBAT use the power point software to create a mini documentary with sound.


  • •SWBAT create a mini documentary using power point with sound.
    •SWBAT write a narrative related to the pictures and the subject on their power points.

Stage 2 – Assessment Evidence

•Timeline & Script. One of each per group. Formative/Summative.
• Research notes collected. Formative
• Hard copy Annotated bibliography. One per group. Summative.
• Hard copy timeline. One per group. Formative/summative

• Final draft narrative. Formative
• Entry and Exit Task handout . What I can/ what I can’t do what now, before the lesson with the librarian and media specialist, and exit task . What I can/ what I can’t do what now. Formative
• Digital Story presentation. Summative


Planning Steps for Unit:
• Determining the dates
• Reserving the computers
• Identifying useful websites and bookmarking them online for ease of student access
• Reserving time with the librarian and the media specialist to teach students how to use databases and print resources for their research.

•Reserving time with the librarian and the media specialist to teach students how to use the power point software. How to create a power point and how to add sound to it.
• Writing the project plan.
•Writing rubrics for the project.
• Write workshop plan to write annotated bibliographies.
• Write workshop plan to create narratives and timelines.
• Creating handouts for the students.


Technologies used:

Types of technology What activity type(s) does this support? How will this support learning? Anticipated planning and learning necessary in order to support students
Power point software/windows movie maker Creation of a visual document to present a narrative and enhance idea(s).Visual divergent knowledge expression.  Creates a virtual artifact. It supports the development of literacy skills:  writing skills, presentational skills, research skills, articulation and communication skills.  Students will be active participant in the creation of relevant knowledge that will be used as a jigsaw to teach the rest of the class Use of the software step by step by the librarian or technology person.
Audacity audio software Oral narrative supporting the visual representation of a narrative. It helps with adapting discourse. Additionally, it helps compose meaning from a text attending to mechanics to add dramatic effect to the reading. It makes mechanics visible and demonstrates the importance of it in writing. It demonstrates the link between writing and speaking, both forms of thinking and literacy. Use of software, how to record voice, edit and attach to a digital story.
Overhead projector It makes visible to the class what the teacher has prepared in a flat document to model narratives. It support the steps needed to complete a digital story. It makes more visible what the teacher is modeling in terms of the project; specifically while building a narrative from a historical text.
 Computers/smart board View presentations It brings to life the projects of each individual group, which in turn
Printers Create a hard copy of the electronic narrative document students create, in order to receive feedback, edit and revise Students are able to take the feedback they receive and refine and edit their written narrative they’ll use in their digital story. It will help to keep a central focus to the story and the viewers engaged. How to send a document to print, and how to select the document properties, and the quality of print.
Internet search engines and databases It supports the initial steps of the project when students need to find the information they’ll use in their stories. It supports the research on the history of Tacoma to inform the project as a foundation for a digital story. it helps narrow the research to only the information the students need for their project. How to use a database. What are key words, how to use them to search in a database.
Microsoft Word It support creating a digital copy of the narrative they create, allowing to edit it easier, and also receive feedback, either electronically or printing a hard copy. It also supports taking notes for the research. It will provide the chance to How to use the software including the tracking tool to give feedback to peers, and edit and refine narratives drafts



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2 thoughts on “Social Studies Unit ELL Classroom “Railroad influence in Tacoma: Past and Present”

  1. Pingback: Unit plan & ideas for meaningfully integrating technology | Investigations in Our Town

  2. Pingback: Digital Stories Social Studies 7th grade ELL classroom | Investigations in Our Town

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