Lewis and Clark's Journal Entries: Close Reading of Historical Texts

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Lewis and Clark's Expedition Journal Entries - Close Reading: In this five-day, CCSS-aligned unit, students will examine and interpret the journal entries of Captain Meriwether Lewis and Second Lieutenant William Clark from their American expedition across the western portion of the United States (1804 – 1806). After building background on the expedition, students will complete multiple close readings of eleven journal entries to deepen their understanding of the writings. Reading excerpts from the beginning, middle, and end of the journey, students will closely read and analyze the journals. Working with small groups, partners, the whole class, and independently students will deepen their understanding of the historical texts by completing nine analysis tasks throughout the unit.

Common Core State Standards

- RI.1, RI.2, RI.4, RI.6, RI.7, RI.10

- RH.1, RH.2, RH.4, RH.5, RH.6, RH.10

- W.1 (A, B, C, D, E)

In this unit, students will...

- Read and interpret complex historical texts

- Cite textual evidence in analysis

- Draw inferences from the text

- Determine the meaning of words or phrases in the text

- Determine the author’s point of view and purpose

- Analyze primary sources

- Write arguments to support claims and analysis

Lewis and Clark Journal Entries - Investigating Historical Texts Unit Highlights:

- Background Information on the Lewis and Clark expedition

- Notes on Nonfiction Texts - Purposes, Types, Organization, Tone, Objective vs. Subjective Writing

- Step-by-step guide for Close Readings of Informational Texts

- Journal Excerpts from the beginning, middle, and end of journey (11 total)

- 9 analysis tasks to deepen student understanding

Teacher and Instructional Resources for the Lewis and Clark - Historical Texts Unit:

- Unit Overview

- Detailed Lesson Plans (5)

- ALL Instructional and Student Work Keys


This unit is part of a Six-Week Incredible Journeys Multi-Unit Bundle Project. In this project students study a short story about a dog’s journey to his owner, investigate Lewis and Clark’s journal entries, analyze speeches about journeys, research explorers, write speeches about incredible journeys, analyze journey poems, write poetry and reflect on their personal journey while actively meeting 38 Common Core State Standards.

Find out all about the Incredible Journeys Multi-Unit Bundle Here!

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Total Pages
52 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
1 Week
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
By the end of grade 8, read and comprehend history/social studies texts in the grades 6–8 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.
Identify aspects of a text that reveal an author’s point of view or purpose (e.g., loaded language, inclusion or avoidance of particular facts).
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.


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