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Lesson Plan Item

General Information
Grade 9th Grade Class US History Length of Lesson 50 Minutes
Lesson Title Immigration
Unit Title Gilded Age
Unit Compelling Question What events occurred during the 1870s to the 1900s that brought about changes in American society?
Historical Context:

The trunk belonged to Karl Madsen who immigrated to the United States in 1891. His destination, Exira, Iowa, is seen on the trunk, though with a different spelling – “Exsaira” – and his first name is spelled with a “C”.

Madsen was born on April 20, 1861 in Haderslev, Denmark, in northern Jutland. He was the son of Mads and Karen Nielsen, and since his father's first name was Mads, Karl’s last name became "Madsen."

Family records show that Karl married Marie Jensen, also from Haderslev. For a time Karl lived and worked in Svendkløv planting trees. He, his wife, and children Lena, Peter, and Mary immigrated to America, settling first in Exira, Iowa and later in Gray, Iowa. In both places, Karl worked for the railroad. Later they rented farmland to the southwest of Audubon, known then as the "Roche" farm. It is unknown when Madsen died.

~ Sean Riley, Teaching Iowa History team
Lesson Supporting Question What were the causes and effects of immigration during the Gilded Age? What was life like for an immigrant in Iowa?
Lesson Overview

The students will be looking at immigration during the Gilded Age. Students will begin with a broad view of immigration by filling out a graphic organizer while looking at a prezi in groups. Afterwards, the lesson will get more specific and look at what life was like for an immigrant in Iowa. We will do this by looking at a trunk belonging to Karl Madsen. Students will learn about his life and then answer questions about the primary source. In addition, students will write a journal entry as if they are Karl Madsen describing his life as an immigrant.

Primary Sources Used
Resources Needed




File immigration_graphic_organizer_with_answer_key.pptx, File karl_madsen_worksheet.docx
Lesson Target
  • Students will be able to summarize the causes and effects of immigration in the United States by filling out a graphic organizer while using a Prezi as a resource.
  • Students will be able to articulate and deduce what life was like as an immigrant in Iowa by examining Karl Madsen’s trunk and writing a journal entry as Madsen.
Lesson Themes Cultural Events, Immigrants
Lesson Procedure
Step Procedure Time Differentiation plan / Additional Information
1 Students will be in groups of 3-4 and go through the Prezi about immigration during the Gilded Age. During this time, students will fill out a graphic organizer provided that coincides with the Prezi. 20 Minutes  
2 It will start with the whole class going over his story and the information provided about him from Teaching Iowa History. We will also discuss how Karl’s experience is similar or different from immigrants who settled in other areas. Then, students will independently fill out the questions regarding the primary source, the picture of Madsen’s trunk. Lastly, students will write a journal entry as if they are Karl Madsen and talk about what life is like as an immigrant. This gives them a chance to apply what they have learned in a more creative way 30 Minutes  
Formative Assessment
(How will you use the formative assessments to monitor and inform instruction?)
  • There will be an informal assessment of students based on their ability to fill out the graphic organizer and my observation during this time. This will help me gauge their level of understanding. The Karl Madsen worksheet will be a formal assessment about the students ability to apply their knowledge to both the primary source and their journal entry about the life of an immigrant in Iowa.
Summative Assessment
(How does the lesson connect to planned summative assessment(s)?)
Author Information
Author Rylie Stanton Reviewer Chad Christopher, History Education, University of Northern Iowa Created 02/18/2020 Last Edited 04/11/2020
Lesson Plan Development Notes: Teaching Methods, University of Northern Iowa, Fall 2019

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