Interactive U.S. Westward Expansion lesson! This lesson has students decide if the American West during Manifest Destiny expansion was a place of opportunity or oppression for different groups, including homesteaders, cowboys, women, African Americans, Mexicans, Native Americans, and Chinese immigrants. Students work in small groups (or independently) to learn about the experiences of these groups using secondary and primary sources. After completely a graphic organizer and a class discussion (optional powerpoint included), students will make an argument for the west being (overall) a place of opportunity or oppression, using evidence from their readings.
This has always been an extremely popular activity with my U.S. history students--both AP and survey level. This lesson can be easily modified for different ability levels, simply by including/omitting the supplementary powerpoint and expanding/reducing the writing requirements. This lesson usually takes two 50-minute class periods or one block period.