The National Road: Pennsylvania

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The National Road has great historical importance to the United States.  It has helped build our nation into what it is today.  In this WebQuest, students in grades 4-5 will explore The National Road using a variety of web resources.  They will also practice writing for a specific audience, revising their writing, and working collaboratively to create a brochure for the general public.  Once the brochures have been created, each group will present the information they learned using the brochure. 

WebQuest Objectives:

The students will:

• Research a variety of informational websites pertaining to The National Road.

• Practice information-gathering techniques.

• Synthesize information by collecting facts about important and interesting features of The National Road, and then selecting the relevant information to include in a brochure.

• Practice communicating information to a specific audience by writing and revising text about The National Road for the brochure.

• Learn about grammar and spelling by editing their own writing

• Develop collaborative skills by partnering with classmates to review and collect information and working as a class to create a brochure

• Select graphics that are relevant to text information.

• Present information about The National Road in a group.

• Identify and describe historical landmarks, monuments, and sites related to The National Road.

• Identify and describe historical towns and places related to The National Road.

• Identify and describe famous people who were connected to The National Road in some way.

• Explain the importance of The National Road to the United States.

• Identify the course of The National Road in Pennsylvania and create a map the road.

• Create a timeline of The National Road.

PA Standards:


8.1. Historical Analysis and Skills Development

A. Understand chronological thinking and distinguish between past, present and future time.

B.  Develop an understanding of historical sources.

D.  Understand historical research.

8.2 Pennsylvania History

A. Understand the political and cultural contributions of individuals and groups to Pennsylvania history.

B. Identify and describe primary documents, material artifacts and historic sites important in Pennsylvania history.

C. Identify and explain how continuity and change have influenced Pennsylvania history from the Beginnings to 1824.

8.3 United States History

A. Identify contributions of individuals and groups to United States history.

B. Identify and describe primary documents, material artifacts and historic sites important in United States history. 

C. Identify important changes in United States history (e.g., Belief Systems and Religions, Commerce and Industry, Innovations, Politics, Settlement Patterns and Expansion, Social Organization, Transportation, Women’s Movement).


7.1. Basic Geographic Literacy

A.  Identify geographic tools and their uses.

B. Describe and locate places and regions.

7.3   The Human Characteristics of Places and Regions 

A. Describe the human characteristics of places and regions by their population characteristics.

Reading, Writing, and Speaking

1.1.   Learning to Read Independently

B. Select texts for a particular purpose using the format of the text as a guide.

G. Demonstrate after reading understanding and interpretation of both fiction and nonfiction text.

1.2.   Reading Critically in All Content Areas 
A. Read and understand essential content of informational texts and documents in all academic areas.
B. Use and understand a variety of media and evaluate the quality of material produced.

C. Produce work in at least one literary genre that follows the conventions of the genre.

 1.4.   Types of Writing

A. Write multi-paragraph informational pieces (e.g., essays, descriptions, letters, reports, instructions).

 1.5.   Quality of Writing

A. Write with a sharp, distinct focus identifying topic, task and audience.

B. Write using well-developed content appropriate for the topic.

C. Write with controlled and/or subtle organization.

D. Write with an understanding of the stylistic aspects of composition.

E. Revise writing to improve organization and word choice; check the logic, order of ideas and precision of vocabulary.

F. Edit writing using the conventions of language.

G. Present and/or defend written work for publication when appropriate.

 1.6.   Speaking and Listening

A. Listen to others.

C. Speak using skills appropriate to formal speech situations.

D. Contribute to discussions.

E. Participate in small and large group discussions and presentations.

F. Use media for learning purposes.

1.8.   Research

A. Select and refine a topic for research.

B. Locate information using appropriate sources and strategies.

C. Organize and present the main ideas from research.

D. Credit sources using a structured format (e.g., author, title)

Science and Technology

3.7. Technological Devices

A. Demonstrate basic computer operations and concepts.




Lesson Plan Idea


Prior to performing the WebQuest, it would be useful to familiarize your students with the characteristics of brochures.  The following information is a lesson plan on brochures.


Brochure Lesson Plan


Student Objectives


Students will:
• Use prior knowledge to recall information in a brochure.
• Work cooperatively in groups to examine brochures.
• Identify characteristics that make an effective brochure by examining existing brochures.


Time: One class period


• Various travel brochures
• Handout of brochure characteristics or paper for students to record a list of characteristics
• White Board or Chart Paper
• Markers


• Collect travel brochures from travel agents, the local chamber of commerce or visitor center, businesses, etc.
• Make copies of handout (if necessary)


Instruction and Activities




1. Ask students to share experiences with traveling:
• Where did they go?
• How did they travel? (car, plane, train, etc.)
• What kinds of brochures, travel guides, or books did their families review before traveling?


2. If students have experiences with travel guides and brochures, invite them to share what they remember about them. 


3. Explain that the class is going to create a travel brochure relating to the area where they live, but first they need to become familiar with the characteristics of a brochure.




1. Arrange students in groups.


2. Divide the various brochures among each group to allow them to examine the characteristics.  Tell them to pay attention to the layout, highlighted features, graphics, and text style.  Give students sufficient time to explore.  You may want to allow several minutes for each group of brochures and rotate them amongst the groups. 


3. Afterwards, ask students to share what they found in the brochures.  Use the following questions to guide the discussion:
• Did you find any maps, photos, diagrams, illustrations?
• What kinds of words or vocabulary were used to interest the readers? (i.e. descriptive adjectives, names of places, etc.)
• How was the text presented? (paragraphs, bullets, lists)
• How was the information presented? (facts, persuasion, etc.)
• Did you find any highlighted information?  (names of places, people, contact info, etc.)


4. Ask students if they would like to visit any of the places on the brochures.  If so, ask them to share what parts of the brochures made them want to visit.  If not, ask them to share why they would not like to visit.


5. In their groups, give students several minutes to brainstorm what makes an effective travel brochure. 




1. When time is up, have the groups share their responses for you to record on the board or a chart. 


2. Have students record the answers on paper as you list them or provide them with a handout of brochure characteristics afterwards so they can keep and reference for the travel brochure WebQuest project. 


3. Now, students are ready to create their own brochure.








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