Why Here?



Why Here: Placing Shelton’s Past in the Development of the American West 

The following is a U.S. History unit plan in which students at Shelton High School will investigate the history of their town in light of the recent knowledge they have gained from studying the development of the American West in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Students will collect and compile maps, graphs, data, historical narratives and interviews and analyze them for correlations with or contradictions  to the social and economic trends they identified in the previous unit on the larger American west.

Students will present their findings using time-line presentation software in which they will compare data and narratives specific to Shelton to data and narratives from the larger American west.

Below is a description of the unit. Click here for more information on timeline software.

Unit Plan: Desired Results and Assessment Evidence

Established Goals
  • GEOG 3.2.3: Analyze the causes and effects of voluntary and involuntary migration.
  • GEOG 3.1.1: Analyze information from geographic tools, including computer based mapping systems (GIS) to draw conclusions on an issue or event.
  • GEOG 3.3.1: Analyze and evaluate elements of geography to trace emergence of the U.S. as a global economic force.
  • CCSS Reading for Literacy in History/ Social Studies 11-12, 7: Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media.
  • CCSS Reading for Literacy in History/ Social Studies 11-12, 9: Integrate information from diverse sources both primary and secondary into a coherent understanding of an idea or event noting discrepencies among sources.


Understandings/ Propositions:

  • Development patterns in the Shelton area can be correlated with national trends of growth.
  • Rapid growth in the San Francisco Area created a large demand for Lumber.
  • Native American communities used the Shelton Valley as a seasonal settlement.
  • The Puget Sound provided a way of moving people and goods.

Essential Question: Why Here?Why have people chosen the Shelton valley and Oakland Bay to form or join a community?

Learning Targets:


  • Understands that the Puget Sound made travel and industry possible in early Shelton.
  • Can Identify the natural resources that act as an economic base for Shelton.
  • Can identify causal relationships between the development of the Shelton area and the development of California.


  • Can compare and contrast different perspectives on the development of the west.
  • Can analyze personal narratives and integrate elements into a larger historical context.


  • Accurately cites resources and represents the ideas of others in written work.
  • Uses timeline software to compile work.

Assessment Evidence:Will be assessed through written responses to prompts used to guide research, group discussion, peer-review, and presentation.


Students will use timeline software to create a  summative presentation project. Students will be required to organize all their writing, maps, graphs, historical texts, and interviews into a sequential presentation of their understanding. Each timeline will cover the era from 1840 to 1920 and must include the following:

  • Be linked to a written summary of the similarities and differences identified between the development of Shelton and the development of the larger American west.
  • Summaries of historical research from 3 differerent decades on Shelton linked to the top side of the timeline and 3 corresponding summaries (from the same decades) for the larger American west linked to the bottom of the time line.
  • 3 separate mapped or graphed representations of population in Shelton (linked to top of timeline) and San Francisco (linked to bottom of timeline) representing populations for each city early, midway, and late in the chosen era.

The act of preparing this presentation will require synthesis and the making of connections. I will need to learn the chosen software, lead a mini-lesson, and be prepared to offer support.









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

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