This activity allows students to explore ideas about how America industrialized without the teacher lecturing on the causes of industrialization.
Set up the room in clusters of four desks with two partners facing two other partners at a distance of 3-8 feet so they can see who they are clustered with, but not easily be overheard by the other twosome in their cluster. Assign the pairs so that the strongest thinker/writer in class is partnered with a low middle kid and the weakest thinker/writer in class is partnered with a high middle kid. EITHER the single page instructions with the box near the top can be on the desks as class starts OR the Growth of American Industry outline can be on the desks as class starts, but not both. You will hand out the second one after your intro/instructions.
Explain that students are going to work with their partner to understand how America became the most economically powerful country in the world between 1830 and 1920 (which helps explain why we assume we will get a job and and live well and why many Americans supported Donald Trump as a solution to our lost dominance of the world economy in the last forty years). They are going to write arguments (like a first draft mini-essay) to prove one side of a controversy, and then counterarguments to challenge the ideas of the pair sitting opposite them. By the end of the period the group of four will write a single argument that they can agree on.
Hand out the second half of the paperwork and encourage students to begin with the outline: reading it with their partner and asking questions of each other and the teacher. Fast pairs will begin writing 5-6 minutes after they start reading the outline; slower pairs can be encouraged to accelerate their reading/questioning pace so they can start writing with 30 minutes left in class.
Facilitate the exchange of papers whenever both sides of the foursomes are ready: if one partnership finishes very quickly, encourage them to add one more argument and push their paired group to finish (or start!) quickly.
Each pair will write their rebuttal on the same paper that their paired group sent to them in the exchange.
With 5-10 minutes left, ask everyone to move their pairs of desks into a foursome to work on one final piece of writing that both groups can agree on. What factors were most crucial in the growth of American industry from 1820 to 1920?