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Davis Middle School Library: 8th Grade RSP for Social Studies

Lesson Overview

Students will be able to analyze an event that had an impact of the westward expansion of our country.  Students will be answering a guiding question related to manifest destiny.  Students will select a specific historic event from the mid-19th century to research in order to find answers to their guiding question and present their findings in multiple formats.

Task Definition (1)

Teacher will work with students to revisit the guiding question during the Westward Expansion unit in class—How did (your topic) contribute to or was a result of westward expansion?

Teacher will assist students in picking a topic using the Topic Selection Sheet.  Students can choose from:  Transcontinental Railroad, Gold Rush (California), Homestead Act, Texas Annexation, Mexican-American War, Trails West: Oregon, Mormon, California, Santa Fe, Native American Displacement, or student choice pending teacher approval.   Teacher will introduce the requirements for the project.  (See Synthesis & Sharing)

Formative Assessment: Verify all information is recorded on student handouts (can be a visual check or graded assessment)

Info Seeking/Location & Access (2/3)

With direct instruction from the school librarian (with support from the classroom teacher) on search strategies within the recommended resources, students will locate one primary source document and two secondary source documents (one will be the textbook) related to an event. 

For each document, students will record:

Description of the source    

An explanation of the event

The impact of the event                                     

Key people involved in the event

Possible Resources for finding Primary Source Documents:

Additional Library Resources:

Your librarian will use your school's direct links to the following district databases when working with students.

Formative Assessment:  Consistent and frequent verbal and visual checks with student to assess if they are able to access quality resources.

Use of Information (4)

Teacher will guide students through transferring information into a notes organizer. (Events Information Chart provided)

With direct instruction and support from the school librarian, students will create citations for their sources.  Recommendation to use district subscription to Noodle Tools. 

Formative Assessment:  Visual checks for completion.  And/or, individual conferencing with students to determine if ready to move on to synthesis and sharing.

Synthesis and Sharing (5)

Teacher will review the requirements for the final project and assist students as necessary.

  • Students will complete a RAFT Activity demonstrating understanding of Westward Expansion.  Choose a Role, Audience, Format, and Topic relating to the theme of the driving force behind Manifest Destiny in the United States.  (R.A.F.T Options Page Included.  Students will pick one item from each column).
  • Students will also answer the Level 4 Question about unintended consequences of Manifest Destiny (Sheet provided)
  • Optional--Students can share their final products with peers in small groups.

Formative Assessment: Rough draft feedback.

Summative Assessment: Use provided rubric to grade final product.

Self-Evaluation (6)

Teacher will guide students as they complete the self-evaluation form containing teacher selected items from the form included below.

The self-evaluation can be as brief (one question) or as long as the teacher deems necessary.  This can be a graded or non-graded activity.         


Noodletools provides a format for creating research papers.  It provides an area for notetaking, citation creation, and paper formation.

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