American history study on the ill-fated Donner Party
Students will gain basic knowledge about the ill-fated Donner Party by completing a movie guide done in conjunction with the PBS Donner Party movie by Ric Burns. This movie guide could be used by teachers teaching U.S. History or American Literature.
This is a very good method for students to study first-hand the many perils related to travelling across to California for the California Gold Rush. This movie is very explicit about the dangers and heinous conditions that the members of the Donner Party experienced including descriptions of cannibalism by the members of the party. I use this activity as a finish to our notes and some of the readings from the party member journals. It will take at least one class period (if not more) to finish. However, it gives several places to allow the instructor to stop as they deem necessary. Feel free to modify this activity if needed to fit the needs of your students.