Joseph's Railroad Dreams
Set in 1898, Joseph’s Railroad Dreams focuses on a young boy’s fascination with trains and his experience taking an overnight trip on a Pullman Palace Car. The unit delves into the important transportation history of Chicago, and through five lessons integrates social studies, language arts, and geography skills as students explore this important topic.
Lesson 1: Then and Now
In this lesson students take a virtual train ride back in time to experience Chicago in the 1890s. They will stop at, study, and reflect upon various “stations” depicting the architecture, lifestyles, and clothing of the past and, through writing and drawing, compare them to today.
Lesson 2: Vocabulary Game
By reading Joseph’s Railroad Dream narrative and playing a vocabulary game, students will expand their knowledge of the railroads and train travel in the 1890s. They will also make a Venn diagram to compare train travel of the past to the present day.
Lesson 3: Railway Map
By exploring the history of railroad lines passing through Chicago, students will understand the incredible impact they had on the development of the city and the United States as a whole.
Lesson 4: Reader’s Theater
Through a reader’s theater performance and comparative thinking exercise, students will understand how train travel evolved from its beginnings in Grandpa’s time to Joseph’s era in the 1890s.
Lesson 5: Character Study
By writing a first-person character study and engaging in a final creative project, students will explore in depth what it was like to be a railroad porter in the 1890s.