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Please refer to the Pennsylvania Standards Aligned System website: (http://www.pdesas.org/module/sas/curriculumframework/SocialStudiesCF.aspx)

for information on the Pennsylvania Curriculum Framework for Social Studies. You will find much of the information about PA Academic Standards, essential questions, vocabulary, assessments, etc. by navigating through the various components of the Curriculum Framework.
LESSON / UNIT TITLE: The Indian Removal Act

Teacher Name(s): Dave Heller, Elizabeth Segraves, Beth Baker

School District: Williamsport Area School District, Muncy School District

Building: Williamsport High School, Muncy High School

Grade Level: 11th

Subject: American History

Time Required: 2 days

Lesson/Unit Summary (2-3 sentence synopsis): Students will use multiple perspectives and teacher led discussion to evaluate the impact of the Indian Removal Act.

Essential Questions for Lesson

Why was the Indian Removal Act a controversial issue?

Pennsylvania Academic Standards Addressed in Lesson/Unit

(Include standards numbers and standards statements.)
8.3.12. A: Evaluate the role groups and individuals from the U.S. played in the social, political,

cultural, and economic development of the world.

8.3.12. B: Evaluate the impact of historical documents, artifacts, and places in U.S. history

which are critical to world history.

8.3.12. C: Evaluate how continuity and change in U.S. history are interrelated with the world.

  • Belief systems and religions

  • Commerce and industry

  • Technology

  • Politics and government

  • Physical and human geography

  • Social organizations

8.3.12. D: Evaluate how conflict and cooperation among groups and organizations in the U.S.

have influenced the growth and development of the world.

  • Ethnicity and race

  • Working conditions

  • Immigration

  • Military conflict

  • Economic stability

Lesson Objectives

  1. Students will develop an understanding of the Indian Removal Act by using multiple


  1. Students will draw a conclusion and defend their position on the Indian Removal Act.

Vocabulary/Key Terms for Lesson

Indian Removal Act

“Trail of Tears”







Historical Background for Teachers / Research Narrative

The Indian Removal Act

Andrew Jackson first came to the attention of America as the General who led American forces at the Battle for New Orleans during the War of 1812. This victory solidified his identify as an American hero. He would continue his military career past this war and also help America gain Florida from Spain.

As President, Andrew Jackson was the first of the elected Presidents to be widely chosen by popular vote and to also not be from a founding family. During his term, he sought to act as the direct representative of the common man who had helped place him in office. In 1824, some state political factions rallied around Jackson; by 1828 enough had joined "Old Hickory" to win numerous state elections and control of the Federal administration in Washington. The rise of Jackson to power also ushered in a new age of political parties: Jacksonian Democrats & Whigs. The Whig party developed specifically as an opposition party to Jackson, meaning there was one party rule for a while.

During his time in office, Jackson, unlike previous Presidents, did not defer to Congress in policy-making, but used his power of the veto and his party leadership to assume command. The greatest party battle centered around the Second Bank of the United States, a private corporation but virtually a Government-sponsored monopoly. When Jackson appeared hostile toward it, the Bank threw its power against him. Jackson would win this battle when he vetoed the second charter of the national bank.

Despite this victory over the national bank, Jackson had other problems to face. Sectional division in the Untied States was growing. South Carolina was angry over the tariffs placed on imported goods and tried to nullify this law passed by the federal government. In response, Jackson ordered armed forces to Charleston. Violence seemed imminent until the government negotiated a compromise: tariffs were lowered and South Carolina dropped the nullification issue.

With the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, thoughts of Native American removal became a very real possibility for the policy makers of the U.S. government. It appeared that the Purchase had given the government endless amounts of land, more than could ever possibly be put to use. President Thomas Jefferson initiated discussion over whether portions of this land could be used to solve what some viewed as the "Indian problem"—Native Americans were occupying land that many European Americans believed could be put to better use. Jefferson proposed that unincorporated land west of the Mississippi River be exchanged for the more sought-after land occupied by Native Americans in the east. Debates over the removal of Native Americans grew more intense as the nineteenth century progressed and culminated in the passage of the 1830 Indian Removal Act (4 Stat. 411).

In the act Congress authorized President Andrew Jackson to begin the process of removal. Allocated $500,000, Jackson vigorously pursued his plan and in 1835 was able to announce that removal was complete or near completion. The majority of Native Americans had been removed to regions west of the Mississippi. The Indian Removal Act stood at the intersection of numerous debates among European Americans over the fate of American Indians.


Appleby, et al. “Jacksonian America.” American Vision. Columbus: McGraw/Glencoe, 2010. pg 222-229.

“The Age of Jackson.” U.S. History: Pre-Columbian to the New Millennium. 20 September 2011. www.ushistory.org/us/24.asp

“Andrew Jackson.” The Whitehouse.gov. 20 September 2011. www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents/andrewjackson

“Unit 6: The Early Republic.” Cicero: History Beyond the Textbook. 17 September 2011. http://www2.cicerohistory.com/Cicero/navigate/uc/uid6.do

Instructional Prodedures and Activities

  1. Bellringer: Collins Writing. In 5+ lines describe what you think the relationship was like between Native American tribes and the American government in the early to mid- 1800’s. How did you come to this conclusion?

  1. Introduce the Indian Removal Act. Have students complete ARTIST graphic organizer.

3. Geography Application

    • On a map of the United States have students identify Georgia, Mississippi River, Oklahoma Territory.

    • Discuss distance and means of travel used during that time period.

4. Multiple Perspectives

  • Use the Indian Removal Act document to complete center grey box

  • Source 1: President Jackson (speech). Have students analyze and answer questions on this perspective individually or groups.

  • Source 2: Jeremiah Evart (pdf). Have students analyze and answer questions on this perspective individually or groups.

  • Ask students to draw a conclusion about the Indian Removal Act, and have be able to defend their position.

5. Written reflection/writing assignment

Suggested Strategies for Differentiating Instruction

  • Honors level students can complete the Indian Removal Act ARTIST graphic organizer for homework (previous day)

  • Discuss multiple perspectives in steps (i.e., Source 1 and discuss, Source 2 and discuss)

  • Shorten/chunk reading to student reading level

  • Pair students in analyzing documents/perspectives

  • Additional vocabulary terms can be added

  • Assignment – students are not assigned roles for reflection

Assessment of Student Learning (Formative and Summative)

  • Checking for understanding throughout lesson

  • Evaluate responses to “think/pair/share: discussions during the lesson

  • Student completion of ARTIST graphic organizer


  • Based on the information provided and discussed in class, students will be assigned a stance to take on the Indian Removal Act (for removal, against removal, or native perspective). Information from the class resources should be used to help create the assignment. Students will then create an advertisement for their point of view that will include:

      • Title: Slogan that gets their point across

      • Visual: An image that helps sell their message

      • Message: Three points that support their point of view and explain what should be done

      • Warning: One big “what if” statement that explains what will happen if your actions are not

The assignment will be assessed using a rubric based on these criteria.

Materials and Resources

(Include text, supplementary resources, primary source documents, websites, handouts, charts, maps, etc.)

Included Supporting Resources:
Primary source documents
Indian Removal Act (www.cicerohistory.com, 2010.)
Andrew Jackson, Good, Evil, and the Presidency, published by PBS. Source: Jeremiah Evarts, The Removal of the Indians . . . and An Exhibition of the Advancement of the

Southern Tribes, in Civilization and Christianity (Boston: Peirce and Williams, 1830), 63.
ARTIST Graphic Organizer (www.cicerohistory.com, 2010.)
Indian Removal Act background information sheet
Multiple Perspectives assignment sheet and rubric

Author(s) of Unit/Lesson Plan

Elizabeth Segraves, Williamsport Area School District, Williamsport Area High School

David Heller, Williamsport Area School District, Williamsport Area High School

Beth Baker, Muncy School District, Muncy Junior-Senior High School

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