Lesson 1A: The Gilded Age

Lesson 1A: The Gilded Age                Grade level:   6-10                             Time Length: One 45m class

Cross Curricular/Cross Lessons: Pre-Lesson: Forest Ecology; Lesson1B: Ecological Consequences; 3A: Progressives

PDE Academic Standards: 1.1.8/11; 1.6.8/11; 4.8.7/11; 6.3.9/12; 7.3.9-12; 8.1.6; 8.1.9/12; 8.3.6/9/12


–Students will list and discuss Industrialization and the Gilded Age and describe the conditions of that Era as they relate to the use of natural resources

–Students will examine local and regional towns and the effect of that era on their local community and relate those consequences to present day



Seeking the Greatest Good

Milford/Williamsport/Scranton Power point (Pinchot1.ppt available at wvia.org)

Newspaper/Magazine/Journal articles related to the natural gas industry and/or Hydraulic Fracturing

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZA4k2E0ZzTk


Anticipatory Set:  (2min)      “Moment of Zen”       Discuss the quote as it relates to both students and the topic.

History repeats itself because nobody listens”



–This lesson is to supplement a unit on the Gilded Age.  It is assumed that the students are already familiar with this time period as well as the myriad of changes that were taking place in society during the Industrial Revolution.  Do a quick review activity to connect what the students already know:  (see materials/adaptations for lesson 1 from the Extraordinary Journey)

Make two columns in a prominent place – one for positive breakthroughs, one for negative consequences of Industrialization and the Gilded Age.  Revisit the attitudes of the turn of the century.  Ask the students to review     some of the major events and breakthroughs of this time period and write them in a prominent place: Stress how     this was the world that James and Mary Pinchot experienced.  

–View Chapter I of the film Seeking the Greatest Good

–Compare photos of various areas from the pre industrial era, the industrial era and post industrial era.  Discuss how the towns or landscapes changed in the photographs and explain what was going on in the country at the time.

Examine the state of these and other towns places that experienced booms at the turn of the century (Williamsport, Scranton, Hazleton, Nanticoke, etc).  What are they struggling with?  What have they been doing to “turn things around” or have they? What would you suggest? Have students create a written comparison/topical paper on a local town for extra extension.

–Ask the students to find photos or newspaper clipping regarding hydraulic fracturing and natural gas exploration.  Are these the same issues or are they different?  What are the proponents and opponents of this type of natural resource use? Have the students include this information in their papers. (Some political cartoons can be found in polcar1.ppt at wvia.org)

Extension:  Watch with your students the 1972 animated adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax and discuss the following:

How does Dr. Seuss make fun of the following:
–The greed and “needs” of a consumer society                                    –Marketing

— The glory of Industrialization and celebrated Industrialists    –Progress

How is he more obviously critical of the following:

–Garbage and pollution left behind                               –The effect on wildlife

–The “out of sight, out of mind” mentality                 –Criticism of the environmental movement

How does this relate to the Gilded Age, even though it was created in 1972?


Closure/Summary:            (3min)

Key Questions

What happens to a community when they overuse or do not regulate the use of their resources?

How is it that the problem of deforestation was actually too many resources rather than too few as described tin the film?

How did the Pinchot’s ancestors (logging – cut and run) ironically make the fortune that allowed Gifford to become what he did.  What was the effect?


Evaluation:  Students will be evaluated on their responses during class discussions and the written assignment.

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