A statewide project equipping K-12 educators to teach Iowa history using primary sources

Teaching Iowa History Logo

Home » Lesson Plans » Schools Long Ago 0

Schools Long Ago

Lesson Plan Item

General Information
Grade Kindergarten Class N/A Length of Lesson
Lesson Title Schools Long Ago
Unit Title Children Long Ago
Unit Compelling Question How were children different long ago?
Historical Context:

Iowa's one-room school system saw the establishment of between 12,000 and 14,000 one room schools across Iowa - more one-room school houses than any other state.  The first was built in 1830 in Lee County in southeastern Iowa - before Iowa was a territory, let alone a state.   Students in one-room schools typically ranged from age 5 to 14 years (eighth grade).  One teacher taught all students reading, writing, and arithmetic.  Memorization was a key aspect of learning in the one-room school.  School consolidation began around 1900 and became more widespread as the automobile became more prevalent and the rural road system developed.  Many one-room schools were used until 1967, when the Iowa legislature removed them from service, encouraging districts to share programs, buildings, and staff.


In this lesson students will learn about one-room schools from the early 1900s.  We will discuss how classroom spaces were divided by grade level, and how few students may have been part of each grade. We look at the physical differences in schools then versus today. 

~ Claire Bennett
Lesson Supporting Question How were schools different long ago?
Lesson Overview

We will start by talking about what a historical thinker thinks like and what kinds of questions they ask. Then we will do a gallery walk of pictures of schools from long ago. Then we will come back together and talk about what the students saw. Then, the students would work in pairs to brainstorm how we could make our classroom look similar to the classrooms in the pictures. 

Primary Sources Used
Resources Needed

Pictures of schools long ago

Lesson Target
  • - Student’s will think like historians and demonstrate this to me through verbal analysis.
Lesson Themes Before Formal Education System
Lesson Procedure
Step Procedure Time Differentiation plan / Additional Information
Bell Ringer Gallery walk of pictures of schools from long ago, students will talk with a partner and ask questions like a historian would ask. I would go over questions that historians would ask beforehand.  3-5 Min I will be walking around and asking them questions to further their thinking. 
Teacher Coming back into a group and asking students what kinds of questions they asked to their partner and what could investigate further to figure out the answers to those questions.  7 Min  
Students Will get together with their history buddy and brainstorm what we would need to add or take away in our classroom to make it look and function like one in the pictures. They would then draw a picture of what our classroom would look like if it were one of the older classrooms.  10 Min

If students would like to make something else besides a picture of what it might have been like in a classroom. They can run their ideas by me and I will assess if that is appropriate for the activity. 

Closure The students will share out their pictures and tell the details of the classroom. They will tell what they took out and why. They will also share what they added and why.  10 Min Students who do not feel comfortable sharing in front of the class can share their drawings with me privately. 
Formative Assessment
(How will you use the formative assessments to monitor and inform instruction?)
  • I will be overserving the conversations that they are having when looking at pictures of the old schools. I will be taking anecdotal notes to see how well they understand the concept.
Summative Assessment
(How does the lesson connect to planned summative assessment(s)?)
  • The drawing will be the summative assessment this will show that they know what some of the differences are between life then and life now. I will also be taking notes when they are sharing their pictures to check understanding.
Author Information
Author Claire Bennett Reviewer Dr. Chad Timm, Simpson College Created 05/21/2020 Last Edited 07/15/2020
Lesson Plan Development Notes: Social Studies Methods, Simpson College, Spring 2020

Objects Large for Lesson Plans

No objects were found.