Interdisciplinary Research Unit


An Interdisciplinary Unit means that you will be reading from many types (genres) of writing. 

Our topic:  America's Westward Expansion.


You are to read your chosen historically based novel and complete research on the sub-topic it covers for America's Westward Expansion.  During your research, you are required to:

      Watch at least one video on your sub-topic, and

      Analyze at least one picture (from the era) related to your sub-topic.

      Incorporate information from at least one poem related to your sub-topic. 


Read a section of your novel daily (at least 15 pages) and note characters,  the reason why your character is going west and what he/she expects to find there, and events (funny or sad).  You will need these notes for the poster due at the end!

Conduct research on the topic related to Westward Expansion that corresponds to your novel, making sure to answer the guiding questions.  Below are possible web sites that you may use, along with your guiding questions. Remember that you may search for other sites, but make sure they are reputable!  Also remember to write down your sources so that you can cite them in your paper.

The Oregon Territory

      Which nations held claim to the Oregon Territory?  How that dispute was settled?

      How did the traders and trappers pave the way for expansion?

      Why did the Mormons move to what is now Utah?

Gold Rush

      Who discovered the gold?  When?  How did this affect the population in California?

      How did this event affect the lives of Native Americans, Chinese immigrants, and African Americans?

      Describe a typical mining town.

Early American Industrial Revolution/New Immigrants

      Describe the working conditions in American factories in the mid to late 1800s.

      What struggles did new immigrants faced in the US?

      How did American cities change at the turn of the century?

Louisiana Purchase/ Lewis and Clark Expedition

      Why did President Jefferson want control of the Mississippi River and New Orleans?

      Why did Lewis and Clark explore the west? How did their explorations of the west help America grow?

      What important things did they learn about the territory?

Transcontinental Railroad

      How did the railroads influence America's Westward Expansion?

      Explain the Homestead Act of 1862. and how it affected this movement.

      Describe life on the Prairie during this time, including how ranchers overcame these conditions.

Native Americans/Trail of Tears/Indian Removal Act

      What was the purpose of the Indian Removal Act of 1830?  What peaceful things did Native Americans do to resist moving?

      Why was the journey called the Trail of Tears?

      In what other ways did America's westward expansion affected the Native Americans?

Texas Independence/War with Mexico

      Which nations had claims in the Mexican territory of Texas?  How was that dispute settled?

      How did Texas win its independence from Mexico?

      How did the United States obtain New Mexico and California?


You will:

     Individually write a research/synthesis paper in which you relate what you have learned about your sub-topic, and

     In your book group, create a poster/powerpoint/prezi about your novel read.


Research paper requirements: (We will talk about specific requirements as we get close to writing these up!)

     Intro paragraph

     A paragraph for each guiding question with Evidence from multiple sources (all cited)



Poster/powerpoint/prezi requirements:

    Title and Author

    Main characters

    Why he/she was moving west

    At least 3 interesting events along the way

    What new life/new place was like

    Book group's names