The lure of gold promptly
made California the most culturally and racially diverse
society the world had ever known - tensions were bound to
The student page contains the hook only. It is intended to spark interest in the topic and lead students to ask questions or make predictions.
Who were they? Where did they come from? What did they find?
Would you have taken the journey to find gold?
Students might ask similar but different questions than those listed here. The more students are guided to ask specific questions, the less inquiry-oriented the activity.
The Web Inquiry Project described below asks students to take on the role of historian, exploring the lives of people who came to California in the era of the Gold Rush. The following list of questions are intended to have the students really think about the relationship between the California Gold Rush and the various groups of people who were affected by it.
Who were the gold miners?
How did the miners get along with each other?
Were their dreams fulfilled?
After students have asked questions related to the topic, they will need to decide a number of things, including:
Types of Data
The web resources Chasing a Dream, Gold Rush Diversity, Natives and Immigrants, and American Memory will help students gain a general understanding about the people of the Gold Rush. Some of the data students will find are photographs, sketches, timelines, and narratives.
Defining Important Terms
Students will use these tools to gather their thoughts:
Students will also need to be provided with additional websites that will provide further information on each group of miners. For a more detailed description on these websites and the collection of this data, see the Analysis section.
Students will use the KWL charts before they research to organize ideas and information. They will revisit it at the end of their investigation.
Students will use Prove It Charts to document their findings as they research.
Students will use Concept Maps to manipulate and connect information found on the various
There is often a giant leap from defining the type(s) of data desired and actually finding the data. Providing guidance to students in finding the necessary data may be necessary.
In order to aid students in their research about the people during the Gold Rush, a list of web resources may be provided. The following links are helpful resources you might want to direct them to:
1. Native American Miners
2. African American Miners
3. Chinese American Miners
4. Foreign Miners
Please note that the inquiry is not limited to the sample categories listed above. You may want to encourage students to research different or additional groups not mentioned in the list.
Raw data/information usually has to be manipulated before it can answer any questions. Students might be unaware of how data can best be manipulated, so teacher guidance may be appropriate.
After completing the data investigation section of the inquiry, students should revisit their original concept maps or KWL charts. An original concept map for the topic, "Who Were the People of the California Gold Rush," might include subtopics such as background, contributions and roles, population changes, and conflicts with other miners. The class as a whole may start out with a general concept map such as:
are later divided up to investigate one particular group's experiences,
the concept maps may be expanded to look like:
of the Gold Rush:
of the Gold Rush:
is meaningful unless communicated appropriately. Discussion
of findings should be supported. There may or may not be definitive
answers to the questions students raised.
Native American Miners:
Chinese American miners:
Answers often lead to new questions, starting the inquiry cycle over again.
Here are some possible follow up
questions you may wish to have your students investigate at a