Home School Life Journal

Home School Life Journal ................................................................................................................painting by Katie Bergenholtz

Curriculum and Role-Play: Pioneers

I would like to introduce to you my latest Role-Play Curriculum for Middle and High School students, Pioneers. It is a twelve week curriculum that includes writing, research, hands-on projects and even a bit of math and a field trip suggestion or two. I will be linking each week's lessons to this post for your convenience.


This program is designed for students from Middle School level to High School grades. You will, therefore need to establish for yourself the level which meets the standard for your student(s) grade level(s). The highest level work is complete and has details. The writing should reflect analysis and decision making. Research assignments should be graded on both content and writing skills. They all need to have two resources. Everything should reflect the students' mastery of the material covered.



Students will need a blank notebook to record information. I ask my students to keep wide margins on the left side of their notebook pages and double space their writing  so that they can go back and add questions,  comments and reflections in the margins.



Week 1: Modes of Transportation
Week 2: The Geography
Week 3: Weather and Landforms
Week 4: Landmarks on the Overland Route
Week 5: Plants, Animals and Routes
Week 6: Everyday Life on the Trail
Week 7: Meeting the Elephant
Week 8: Indians
Week 9: On the Trail
Week 10: Rain, Rain, Go Away...
Week 11: Encounters on the Trail
Week 12: The End


Sources:


(originally published 3/9/`7)

Our 21st Year of Homeschooling: April 2017

April 2017
We are finally back to our normal activities. The college kids are back to their classes and have even caught up on their work from being out with the flu.
We are back to enjoying the healthy and economical lunches we can get at the college cafeteria, such as this Chicken Taco Salad.

Katie is doing well this semester and has surprised herself with how well she is doing in her math class. 


One morning before we drove to the college, she had to swing by the beach to snap a few photos as she is working on a landscape for her Painting II class. She picked this photo to base her painting on.

One evening, we went to the college early so I could get a picture of her working in her art class.

I love the way her art teacher has set up the room so that the students can each work on their individual projects. It is such an inviting and warm atmosphere, it made me happy to be there.
Both Sam and Katie are ready for the summer break however, and they will get their wish soon as they have only one more week of classes and then final exams.


Quentin is back to his activities, too. He goes to fencing twice a week, which I am counting as his gym class.

He has also begun weekly individual lessons.



He is enjoying his weekly voice lessons, which have become regular and he is beginning to see the fruits of his labor. His voice is soft right now as he figures out how to handle the fact that his voice is changing. He is currently working on White Winter Hymnal and Vincent.

In terms of book work, the younger boys and I had a look at where they are at in terms of the fact that the end of the year is nearing. We tend not to work through any one book in any particular subject, but rather taking rabbit holes as we see them and switching up materials as we see the need or desire. For this reason, we never know exactly where there is an ending point. One thing just tends to lead to another and so on, making knowing where to stop for the summer a bit difficult. We looked, instead, at what things we could work on or what natural conclusions we could meet before summer rolls around. We decided that Quentin should finish the paper he is working on for English and stop there. He will continue to work on writing his role-playing games, as it is for pleasure as well as credit. We will pick history back up where we leave off as that is an on-going process.
 We are going to stop progress in math and make sure that he has all the basics down before starting Pre-Algebra in the fall. We will probably be working on his Biology in fits and starts throughout the summer, so we will continue on with that. We will also continue reading Shakespeare and Economics (Whatever Happened to Penny Candy?) throughout the summer.


We decided that James will finish up Treasure Island for English and then stop for the summer. We will take up writing papers in the fall. We will stop Integrated Physics and Chemistry at the next chapter and pick it up again in the fall where we leave off. Meanwhile, he will probably participate in the biology work Quentin is doing through the summer. As with Quentin, we are going to review basic math concepts by playing math games throughout the summer and pick up Algebra where he leaves off this month in the fall. We will finish up Maryland History this summer and he will start a new History program in the fall. We haven't yet decided what it will be.
Our next post will include the summer goals for all of us.

Oh, and in case you missed them, I have posted a series entitled Pioneers, a Renaissance Role-play and History Curriculum for Middle and High School Students. This series will continue through all of May.

I have also answered the question, What is the Difference Between Middle School Level and High School Level Learning? by discussing teaching high school students about how to analyze arguments in the articles they will be reading and how to make good arguments for their own papers.

I have been less faithful about writing the posts for the High School American Government course, but I do promise I will finish all the posts in this series throughout the summer.

My other summer posting projects are a Maryland History and Geography curriculum for middle and high school students (plus some for elementary level students),
and a series of posts for a Civil War curriculum for middle and high school students. The title picture is an old picture of Quentin. He looks so adorable in that picture I just had to use it even though he is so young and the posts are for older kids.
I am also going to sneak in a post on Grading High School Essays and Papers in May before my posts turn more summer oriented.

As you can see, the blog posts have turned more toward high school and less and less toward elementary and middle school level activities. I do hope to write some more posts on the younger level activities, but I have high school level work on my brain right now as I am writing that level curriculum for my boys now. Once I am through writing those posts, however, I do plan to go back to some things I have not written about before on the elementary and middle school levels.
While I am talking about writing, I just wanted to mention how proud I am of my sister-in-law, whose article, Belvedere Mystery, was published as a front page article (and continued inside) in the newsletter for the Chesapeake Beach Railway Museum where she volunteers as a docent. For this article she did extensive research and uncovered some really interesting facts about a mysterious Tiffany glass screen. This type of thing is great encouragement for how research and writing skills can be used after graduation and on into the rest of your student's lives.

Snapshot Summary, April 2017

This spring has had very variable weather, some days quite chilly and others as warm as summer.


Remember the tree that I have been following throughout the seasons? 
Well, in one week, the tree went from having buds...
 to having leaves popping out all over.

We had a beautifully spooky moon one night when we went to pick up Katie at the college.

 The boys enjoyed going to First Friday roller skating while Katie and I went to Produce Junction (wholesale Farmer's Market).

 We had a really beautiful Easter. I made up these little baskets to put at each person's place setting for Easter dinner.
 James (Quentin and Alex did one or two) colored Easter Eggs, which were turned into Deviled Eggs for Easter dinner.
 James also collected some ivy to decorate the table.
 Hope brought a beautiful flower which also decorated the table.
 I switched up the Easter egg hunt this year so it would appeal to the kids now that they are older. I put battery-operated tea lights in large plastic eggs and Steven set them out in the backyard.
 It was so much fun to see them racing around in the dark with these lit eggs in their hands. Definitely a hit. Even the kids in their 20's participated.
James has enjoyed his MTG club.
On a less happy note, Hope was in a bad car accident, which totaled her car and broke her collar bone. (Any prayers for her speedy recovery would be appreciated!) I took her car shopping for a replacement car, and she settled on this Kia Soul in alien green. (Don't you just love the names they have for car colors?) I think our Kias are friends already!

More about the homeschooling aspects of the month will be in a different post.



Maryland History and Geography

Maryland map drawn by Sam in 2010.

Inspired by Ticia at Adventures in Mommydom, who recently posted a totally awesome post, The Ultimate Guide to Hands on Learning for Texas history, I have decided to write a series of lessons on Maryland history and geography. I am basing these lessons on what James and I have been learning about Maryland history and geography this year, but I will include sections for all age/grade groups. Wouldn't it be cool if all 50 states could be covered in this manner, with posts written by the bloggers who live in each of the states?

Here are the posts that I will be posting, which will include activities, questions for further research and field trips, if you live close-by.

  1. Where is Maryland?
  2. The State Seal
  3. In the Beginning : The Calvert and Lord Baltimores 
  4. The State Flag
  5. The Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay 
  6. State Dog
  7. A New Colony and the Indians who Lived There
  8. Key Cities and Towns in Maryland 
  9. First State House and the State House Today
  10. Colonial Maryland 
  11. Maryland's Shape and Size
  12. Revolutionary War
  13. Maryland's Neighbors
  14. War of 1812
  15. Elevations of Maryland 
  16. Westward Movement 
  17. Drainage Systems in Maryland 
  18. Civil War 
  19. The State Song, "Maryland, My Maryland"
  20. Rivers in Maryland
  21. Nineteenth Century
  22. Boundaries of Maryland: Mason - Dixon Line, Potomac River and the Atlantic Ocean 
  23. Twentieth Century 
  24. The State Flower
  25. The Delmarva Peninsula 
  26. State Fossil, State Sport
  27. Government 
  28. The Coastal Plain: the Chesapeake Bay,  the Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland 
  29. State Tree, State Fish
  30. State Crustacean, State Boat
  31. The Piedmont Plateau 
  32. The Appalachian Region
  33. Baltimore 
  34. State Bird, State Insect
  35. America in Miniature 
  36. Other Symbols of Maryland

What is the Difference Between Middle School Level and High School Level Learning?


This is a question that often comes up, particularly when putting together a plan of study without using any particular curriculum. In the elementary years you are giving your students the overall picture or flavor of the subject. By the middle school years you will begin nailing down the specifics, giving more details to the big picture. By the time the student is in high school, he is ready to begin using reason and discernment to think critically.

This is most easily applied to history,  but if you think about it, critical thinking can be applied to all high school level subjects. To give the framework of critical thinking,  I will begin with its application to history, but I will also touch on how this higher order thinking can be applied across the board.

I have found that students who can analyze historical texts can write better history papers themselves, for they both have the same elements. So, to begin teaching analytic skills, I give my ninth grade student written works that have opposing viewpoints. Students can, by closely looking at the works, learn the methods that were used to express the viewpoints. This will enable the student to determine for himself which is the stronger or weaker argument.

In this series, I will discuss teaching your students about assertions, detecting assumptions,  evaluating sources, reliability of information, the five types of reasoning, analyzing arguments and the parts of an argument. In this way, you and your student can see how high school level studies can be done without a particular curriculum and with little or no cost.


(originally published 3/15/17)

Teaching Your High School Student About Analyzing Arguments


Now that we have looked at the various ways people make arguments in essays and the possible fallacies connected to them, we can go over with our students how to analyze arguments. 

Before reading an article,  have the student research about the author and try to determine why he wrote the article. How does the author's beliefs and values affect his arguments? 

Next, the student needs to learn all he can about the subject of the article. 

Now, the student can read the article. After reading the article, the student can return to it, highlighting the main point or thesis of the argument.

Next, the student should analyze how the evidence to support the argument is presented. Can he identify the type of argument? (Cause and Effect, Comparison, Generalization Proof, Debate) What are the possible fallacies? What are the sources of the evidence? How strong is the evidence? (Is it primary or secondary? Would there be a reason the author has to distort the evidence?) What assumptions does the author make? Is the reasoning valid? (Look for the appropriate questions from the type of argument presented.)
What assumption must be true if thesis is true? 

Once your student is thoroughly familiar with the way arguments are made, he can begin writing his own essays as well as continue to read and analyze others' articles.

So, what is the difference between middle school and high school level learning?

In high school students should be able to identify which level of reasoning is used in an article and be able to look for the possible fallacies with each of the types of reasoning. In this way, he can evaluate the article on a higher level than the middle school student who may or may not be convinced by an article's reasoning, but not know why or why not. The high school student can then write his own paper, using a particular article to back up his claims or to refute the claims of the article. This is practice for a college-level paper.

Pioneers, part 8: Indians

part 8: Indians 

Monday: Timeline

Have your student add to his timeline: 1848: End of war with Mexico. This resulted in California and the Southwest becoming part of the United States. Gold is found,  Tipping off the Gold Rush.

We now call the indigenous people of America "Native Americans" but the pioneers called them "Indians",  so that is how we will refer to them in this unit.

Tuesday: Identify the Indian Nations and Where They Lived

Have your student research what Indian Nations lived on the route the pioneers traveled, between Independence, Missouri and Oregon. Have him draw the territories for these tribes in the 10's on a map.

Wednesday: Encounters

Have your student select one of the Indian Tribes and research how they lived in the 1800's. Were the pioneers in danger as they encountered the Tribe or were the pioneers helped through the Indians via trading/bartering, guiding the wagon trains or assisting the pioneers across rivers?

Were the pioneers afraid of the Indians? Can your student find examples of this in the books he is reading?

What effect did the pioneers have on the Indian's hunting grounds, grass, buffaloes and health?

Have your student research how the relationships between the Indians and the pioneers changed after the 1860's. Why?

Thursday: The Role-Play

The wagon train's guide has just informed you that the wagon train has an important decision to make. The trail soon spits and you can either continue on the Oregon Trail or take the California Trail. The Oregon Trail is shorter and leads almost directly to the next planned stop, Fort Boise but it is not the safest as it crosses a sacred Indian burial grounds and once on the trail, there is no way to get around these burial grounds. The guide also tells you that several previous wagon trains have been attacked near these burial grounds. The California Trail is very dry, and so finding water might become difficult and is longer but there is less of a chance of attack by Indians. The guide outlines the possibilities. He also says that we could send several scouts ahead on the Oregon Trail to check on Indian activity and/ or The California Trail to check the water availability. While they are gone, the wagon train must wait for the scouts return. If you decide to sent scouts ahead, how long will you be willing to wait, if the scouts don't return, before you decide the scouts have run into trouble?

If they decide to send out scouts, the scouts return in eight days. The scouts down the Oregon Trail say that they traveled for four days when they were surprised by a small band of Indians and they barely escaped with their lives. The scouts down the California Trail state that they found little water along the way. 200 DPs for time lost waiting for the scouts return. You must make a decision on which trail you will take. If they decide to split the wagon train, their EF's are divided in half.

If they decide on the California Trail, roll a six-sided die and on that number's wagin, his spouse (or second member of the party) is bitten by a rattlesnake. To ensure a prompt recovery, write a research paragraph as before on rattlesnake bites and how they treated them. 200 DPs for a good paragraph,  Subtract 3 EFs for an unacceptable paragraph. If no paragraph is turned in, the spouse dies.

If he takes the Oregon Trail, and it comes to the point for overnight camping, he finds that grazing buffalo have clipped the prairie grass clean for miles around. If he is not carrying extra feed for the animals, they will become weak and unable to pull the wagon without rest. 300 DP's for not having extra animal feed.

On the Oregon Trail: Indians have stopped your wagon train, asking to trade. They need clothing and rifles and are willing to trade horses and food for these items. 200 DPs if he chooses to stop and make the trade offered, add 2 EFs for positive interactions with the Indians. If he tries to barter, the interactions become heated and the Indians end up demanding that the wagon train turn back, claiming that previous wagon trains damaged their sacred burial grounds.  They warn that if you continue on the trail,  you will be killed. If he chooses to continue, he has no immediate consequences.
If he chooses to turn back, you are delayed, costing you 300 DPs but is allowed to do so without any additional consequences.


Friday: Research Paper

Have your student work on his research paper.

Teaching Your High School Student about Reasoning by Proof and Reasoning by Debate

In the past two weeks we have looked at three ways writers make arguments in articles:
Reasoning by Cause and Effect 
Reasoning by Comparison and Contrast 
Reasoning by Generalization 

This week we will look at two more ways writers make arguments in articles:
Reasoning by Proof 
Reasoning by Debate 


Reasoning by Proof


Reasoning by Proof seems like it is self-explanatory, but there are several fallacies that students should learn to look for when looking at Reasoning by Proof:

Irrelevant proof: evidence that doesn't actually apply to the main point, but to a separate point

Negative proof: a conclusion based on the absence of evidence to the contrary 

Prevalent proof: this is "proof" that is assumed because "everyone knows" it to be true.

Numbers: Evidence that emphasizes the numbers, in order to de-emphasize the methods used to get the proof.

Appeal to Authority: the argument that is basically "I'm right because I'm an expert" without the evidence to support the argument. 

The Extreme: Using the conclusion that a particular evidence can't be true because it is an extreme viewpoint. Sometimes the "extreme" viewpoint is true.


Reasoning by Debate

This is a really good way of proving a point of view. Therefore, many good articles begin with a survey of interpretations of the topic under examination and arguments that refute these opposing interpretations, leaving one interpretation that is to be believed over the other interpretations. Students should look for the cue words other people believe,  the traditional view is,  other views are wrong because, older interpretations, and other viewpoints are.
There are some fallacies,  however, that are possible in this way of presenting an argument. 

Either/Or: This occurs when the author debates that there are only two options possible and if one is proven wrong, then we are left to only conclude that the alternative option is the only one left. Students should ask themselves if all alternatives have been eliminated. 

Attacking the Arguer: This occurs when the argument is directed at the person making the argument rather than at the arguments presented.

Straw Man: This is a technique of attacking an argument by adding to or changing the original argument and then attacking the changes or additions. 

Looking for an identifying these fallacies will help your student when he reads or makes arguments. 


What is the difference between middle school level and high school level level learning?


In high school students should be able to identify which level of reasoning is used in an article and be able to look for the possible fallacies with each of the types of reasoning. In this way, he can evaluate the article on a higher level than the middle school student who may or may not be convinced by an article's reasoning, but not know why or why not. The high school student can then write his own paper, using a particular article to back up his claims or to refute the claims of the article. This is practice for a college-level paper.

Next week we will look at how students can learn how to analyze arguments of all types.

Pioneers, part 7: Meeting the Elephant

part 7: Meeting the Elephant 

Monday: Timeline

1846: War with Mexico begins. 4th Parallel becomes border between US and  Canada. The slogan, "fifty-four, forty  or fight" is popular. (Have your student research what this meant, if he is unfamiliar with the slogan.)

"Meeting the Elephant was a term emigrants used to describe encountering the worst conditions possible as they made their way west." - Westward Migrations, Doris Roettger

Meeting the Elephant

It was estimated that there was one grave dug every 80 yards. Have your student determine the distance between Independence, Missouri and the Willamette Valley in Oregon, and then approximately how many Graves there would have been in that distance.

Tuesday: Research: Hazards and Illnesses

Have your student research one or more of the following illnesses that were prevalent at the time. Do they still exist today? Are they still fatal?
Cholera
Dysentery
Scarlet Fever
Measles
Typhoid
Malaria
Optionally, he could learn about dentistry of the time, and the fact people died from toothaches sometimes. He could also learn about the dangers of snake bites.

Optional Field Trip

Take a field trip to a pharmacy and talk to the pharmacist about the effectiveness of medicines used in the 10's as compared to the medicines used today.

Wednesday: Research

Accidents

Have your student brainstorm how accidents could have occurred along the trail.

As he reads, have him jot down in his notebook the type of accidents that occurred in the book he is reading.

How did pioneers repair wagons when they broke down?

Water

Water supply was a constant problem as the pioneers made their way westward. Have your student research about the pioneers' use of water and answer the following questions in his notebook. Where did they get the water they needed? What were the many uses of water they required? How did they carry the water? How much water could they carry at one time on their wagons? How much water does your family use? How does this compare to the amount the pioneers used?

Have your student research about where along the trails did the pioneers face the problems of lack of water,  polluted water or alkaline water. What causes the water to be alkaline or polluted? Can alkaline or polluted water be treated and if so, how? Were these methods available to the pioneers?


Thursday: Research

Dangers of Sea Travel

Have your student research about the types of accidents that occurred at sea on steamers. How were they repaired?

Were there problems with the weather?

What illnesses did pioneers get while aboard ships? What other problems could occur?

The Donner Party

The Donner Party is probably the most famous example of what terrible things could happen as pioneers moved west. Have your student research the Donner Party. How many people were in this wagon train when it started?  Who were they? What happened to the group?  What hardships did they encounter?  How many made it to California? Have your student find Donner Pass on a current map of California  (you might have to use a road map).

Friday: The Role-Play

(If they take the Massacre Bluff Trail) You find that the trail wanders through a vast, water-less desert. The guide tells you that you must back track and choose another trail. You lose the time it takes you do do this. On the way back, animals start falling dead due to the extreme heat and lack of water. Each wagon rolls a 6-sided die. 1=your animals are not affected,  2=1 oxen, 3=1 goat, 4=1 cow, 5=1 mule, 6=1 horse.  If the wagon does not have the animal called for, substitute another animal.

As they reach the halfway point through the canyon, a large band of Indians begin firing on them from the surrounding hills. The guide instructs everyone to put the wagons in a circle. The battle begins. If anyone is in danger of dying, take them out of the battle and kill off an animal instead.

(If they choose the Prairie Trail)
Roll a 6-sided die.  For the wagon that is rolled, you tell them that earlier this evening a wagon member went looking for water for the members of your train and the animals and never returned. If anyone goes to investigate, they find signs of a struggle. What do they do? If they decide to go on without the missing person, the wagon train loses 3 EFs. If they decide to go after the missing person, roll a die and50%, they meet up with the Indians. 800 DP's for the delay, 50 % the search was in vain and subtract 800 DP's for the search.

50 % chance of this happening: You are passing through a very narrow gorge, a huge bolder comes crashing down. Roll a 6-sided die and that person has the bolder crash into his right front wagon wheel, overturning the wagon. The guide will not let other wagons proceed until your wagon is turned upright and the wheel repaired. 300 DPs for the wait.

(If they take the Long Trail.) Roll a 6-sided die.  A 1 means that the driver on your wagon has come down with dysentery. Write a research paragraph about what dysentery is, it's cause and treatment.  100 DP's for a good paragraph,  200 DPs for an acceptable paragraph and 400 DP's and you are too sick and weak to drive your wagon for several days (roll a 4-sided die) if no paragraph is turned in.

You have now reached the South Pass and the Continental Divide.

Teaching Your High School Student About Reasoning by Comparison and Contrast and Reasoning by Generalization

Last week we discussed Reasoning by Cause and Effect. This week we will look at two more ways of making an argument, Reasoning by Comparison and Contrast and Reasoning by Generalization. 

Reasoning by Comparison and Contrast

Comparison takes two ideas and reasons that since they are alike in this way, they will be alike in another way as well. Similarly, contrast takes two ideas and reasons that if they are different in this aspect, they will be different in at one other way.

Students can look for key words in an article that indicates that there is this type of reasoning being used: like, similar to, same as, greater or less than,  better or worse than, increased or decreased. But not all comparisons are stated, but instead implied. For these instances, the student has to look closely to determine what is being compared and how they are compared. Often the student has to ask himself the question, "compared to what?"


Reasoning by Generalization

Writers often make generalizations, which are sometimes backed by statistics and sometimes have nothing to back it up. Statistical generalizations arguments what is true for some of a group will be true in roughly the same way for the whole group. Your student can find statistical generalizations by looking for the cue words all, none, some, most, a majority, few, plural nouns. A hard generalization can be disproved by a counter-example. A soft generalization is applied to some of a group and are thus harder to disprove. It can be countered only as the counter-examples add up. Your student should ask the questions:
How large is the sample? (The larger the better.)
How representative is the sample?

The warning should be to look out for over-generalization. Over-generalization can occur if the conclusion is based on too small a sampling or by stereotyping, which is applying preconceived notions to a group. These can be countered by making sure the writer has plenty of proof to back up his claims, gives examples and backs up his claims with materials from someone who has authority in the subject mentioned. Students can look for this by searching for the cue words for example, for instance, according to, authority and expert.


What is the difference between middle school level and high school level level learning?

In high school students should be able to identify which level of reasoning is used in an article and be able to look for the possible fallacies with each of the types of reasoning. In this way, he can evaluate the article on a higher level than the middle school student who may or may not be convinced by an article's reasoning, but not know why or why not. The high school student can then write his own paper, using a particular article to back up his claims or to refute the claims of the article. This is practice for a college-level paper.

To sum things up, in the past two weeks we have looked at three ways writers make arguments in articles:
Reasoning by Cause and Effect 
Reasoning by Comparison and Contrast 
Reasoning by Generalization 

Next week we will look at two more ways writers make arguments in articles:
Reasoning by Proof 
Reasoning by Debate 

Pioneers, part 6: Everyday Life on the Trail

part 6: Everyday Life on the Trail

Monday: Timeline

Have your student add to his timeline: 1840-1870: Between 250,000 and 500,000 people went west on the Oregon Trail.


Tuesday: Cooking and Foods

Have your student research how the pioneers were able to cook food on the trail. What did they use for fuel?

Optional Hands-on Project: Cook Pioneer Foods

Have your student cook some of the foods the pioneers cooked on the trail, such as Fried Dough Cakes, Soda Bread, Johnnycakes, Dried Apple Pie or a Breakfast of Pancakes, Bacon and Coffee or Baked Beans with Slab Bacon.

Wednesday: Music

Find recordings of songs played and sung on the Trail or have your student learn to play and sing them himself, such as:
Buffalo Gals
Oh, Susanna
Sweet Betsy from Pike

Thursday: Letters Home

Pioneers were able to mail and receive letters to and from b family and friends at the forts along the way. Have your student write a letter home as his character in the role-play, describing some of the things that happened (what did they see, any difficulties such as illnesses, their feelings and thoughts).

Storytelling

Have your student tell about something that could have happened to them in their past. Have him be as dramatic as you can with the telling. He may want to rehearse before telling it to your family or group.

Friday: The Role-Play

(Note: There are many illnesses listed in chapter 6 of the role-playing game, Renaissance that can be applied to your role-play. It lists a description of the illness, how long it takes from contracting the illness to showing symptoms,  it's "potency" (the gamemaster / teacher makes an opposed Resilience roll against the Potency to find out whether the disease is contracted), Effect and Cure. For example:
Ague
The victim suffers from a raging fever. The victim feels that they are burning up or very cold, sweating or shivering,  in turn. The victim is also overcome with bouts of nausea.
Delay: 1D20 hours
Potency: 50
Effect : All skills are halved. Every time the character attempts a physical action, they must make a successful Resilience roll or their character be completely overcome by nausea for 1D4 -1minutes.
Cure: Use of healing herbs gives a +20% bonus.
You can use this method, or you can use the method outlined below, which was created to give the student more assignments, or some combination can be used. It is up to you, as the Games-Master / Teacher. )

You finally arrive at Fort Laramie in the evening. After dinner, everyone is in the mood for some music. If you have brought an instrument and play, people slip you coins to show their appreciation. Roll for how many coins you receive.

Fort Laramie is one of the few stops along the trail where you can buy supplies, mail and receive letters, receive expert advice on repairing wagons and get information about what is ahead on the trail. What do you want to do at this fort? Does anything need to be repaired? Are you buying supplies? If you buy supplies, you notice that they cost twice as much as they did at your starting point.  Do you mail any letters? If so, to whom? Do you receive any mail? From whom?

Price List Items for sale at Fort Laramie;
Boots, $1.80
Pants, $1.00
Cap, Beaver, $10.00
Cap, Woolen, .21
Coat, lined $16.00
Coat, regular  $3.20
Dress, $2.00
Gloves, .40
Hat, .60
Shirt, $5.20
Shoes, $3.20
Bible  $5.20
Candle .40/each
Crowbar, $2.00
Cooking kit, $4.00
Deck of Cards, $1.20
Flint and Tinder, .20
Hammer, $2.00
Lantern, $3.20
Mining Pick, $3.20
Oil (enough to fuel a lantern for two hours), $3.20
Pamphlet on Trails and Tips, .20
Pitchfork, $2.80
Rope, 30 feet, $10.00
Sack, large, $2.00
Sack, small, .80
Scythe $3.60
Shovel, $3.20
Tobacco, .80
Torch, .60
Writing kit, $3.60
Ale, .80
Bread, .20
Cheese, .80
Chicken,  .80
Eggs, 1 dozen, .80
Goose, $1.00
Meal, .80-$1.20
Pig, $1.00-$2.00
Sugar, .20/pound
Compass, $8.00
Fishing kit, $1.60
Gunner ' s kit, $2.40
Healing kit, $6.00
Musical Instruments, $1.00/each
Horse, $1.20
Mule, $1.00
Ox, .80
Horse feed, .20/day
Hatchet, .50
Hunting Knife, .20
Flintlock Rifle, $6.00
Revolver, $3.00

Your guide has been resting, purchasing a few supplies and asking questions about the trail ahead. The map indicates that the trail divides into three separate trails just west of the Fort. What do you do?
Your guide has found out that the shortest and fastest route is called Massacre Bluff Trail, but it is rumored to be the most dangerous. It is wild, rugged and lonely. There are no settlements before Chimney Rock. Most of the people you talk to tell of wagon trains that found only dry water holes, hostile Indians and huge rocks blocking the trail. One man reports that last year the commanding officer of the fort sent horse soldiers to punish the tribes along the trail and in this fight, many Indians were killed, including women and children. This cruel attack had angered the Indians and they were now fighting back
Last month a wagon train was attacked and they came limping back to the fort with half the people dead or severely wounded.
The Long Trail is much longer and passes through some rough country. Water, however, generally is no problem and the chance of attack is much less. Wagon trains almost always get through but one man tells you that last year a wagon train was attacked by Indians and suffered several casualties.
The reports about the third trail. The Prairie Trail,  are very confusing. One report is that hostile Indians are all along the trail and is as dangerous as the Massacre Bluff Trail. Another man, who claims to have just taken the trail a few months ago says that the trail is a safe shortcut around Massacre Bluff. He says that there were no signs of Indians.
What do you decide to do?

(If they  take the Prairie Trail) Roll a 6-sided die. If he rolls a 1, you tell him, "You fell into a large cactus when your wagon hit a large rock.  It takes you the rest of the day to extract the spines and you are sore for several weeks. 300 DPs (-1 to hit on attack rolls and anything else that takes strength and Constitution.)
Roll a 6-sided die. A one means: A member of your party has contracted cholera. People in other wagons are concerned that they will get the disease. Write a research paragraph on what cholera is, survival rated and contraction rates. 100 DP's for a good paragraph. 400 DPs for an acceptable paragraph and 800 DP's and 3 EFs for no paragraph turned in.

(If they take the Massacre Bluff Trail) As your wagon train rounds the bend, you find that a landslide has blocked the trail ahead. You must stop and clear the trail before you can continue. 100 DP's for each wagon in the wagon train without a shovel. 150 DPs for each wagon without a pickaxe.

(If they take the Long Trail.) The guide says that he is getting very low on food, particularly meat. South have spotted a herd of Buffalo about 5 miles southwest of the trail. They also report that a small band of Indians have been following your wagon train for the last three days. He is calling for a wagon train meeting to discuss whether to forget the buffalo, take the whole wagon train after the Buffalo or send out a hunting party. If they decide to forget the Buffalo, subtract 2 EFs for low rations. 500 DP's If they decide to take the wagon train after the Buffalo but add 2 EFs for the meat obtained and 2 additional EFs if you manage to cooperatively hunt with the Indians. If they send out a hunting party, 1 EF for the meat obtained. Roll a 6-sided die and if it is a 1 or 2, the hunting party cooperatively hunted with the Indians and they get 2 additional EFs.
Have each player roll a six-sided die. If it is a one nothing happens, otherwise, you tell them that one of their party suddenly got a fever during the night. If they roll a 6, this person dies and they need to stop the train for a day for burial.  Otherwise, you need to stop for a day to attend to the needs of the sick person, or they die.

High School American Government, Part 12: Bureaucracy


  1. Assess the nature, sources and extent of bureaucratic power. Bureaucratic power has grown with increases in the size of  government,  advances in technology and the greater complexity of modern society.  Congress and the president can no longer decide the details of policy across the wide range of needs throughout the nation. For this reason, bureaucracies must draw up the detailed rules and regulations that govern the nation.
  2. Describe the types of agencies in the federal bureaucracy and the extent and purposes of the bureaucracy.  The federal bureaucracy has 2.8 million civilian employees in 15 cabinet departments and more than 60 independent agencies  as well as the Executive Office of the President.  Federal employment is not growing but federal spending is rapidly growing. 
  3. Trace changes over time in the size and composition of the bureaucracy and assess the repercussions for democracy.  Most bureaucrats believe strongly in the value of their own programs and seek added power,  pay and prestige. Over time the merit system replaced the spoils system in federal employment, but the civil service system raised problems of responsiveness and productivity in the bureaucracy. Civil service reforms have not resolved these problems. 
  4. Outline the budgetary process and the advantages and the disadvantages of the current system.  Departments and agencies send their budget requests forward to the president's Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The OMB usually reduces agency requests in line with the president's priorities. The president submits spending recommendations to Congress  (The Budget of the United States Government). Congress passes it's appropriation acts prior to the beginning of the fiscal year. Most budgeting is incremental and the question is usually about proposed increases, not justifying every dollar spent. Non-programmatic budgeting, although is supposed to help reduce conflict over the value of particular programs, tends to result in established programs continuing long after the need for them.
  5. Outline the federal regulations that are in place.  Congress can create, abolish or reorganize departments and agencies, alter department and agencies authority and functions by requiring bureaucrats to testify before congressional committees, by undertaking investigations and studies through the Government Accountability Office, by intervening directly on behalf of constituents,  by instructing presidential nominees in Senate confirmation hearings, by withholding agency appropriations, by writing very specific provisions into appropriations acts and by delaying or defeating nominations. Interest groups also influence decision making by their testifying at public hearings,  by contacting the media,  lobbying Congress,  initiating lawsuits and providing information and commentary. 
  6. Summarize the constraints that Congress can place on the bureaucracy.  Judicial control is limited to determining whether agencies have exceeded the authority granted them by law or whether they have abided by the rules of procedural fairness.
Quiz
  1. Bureaucratic power stems from which of the following powers: (circle all that apply) 
    1. develop formal rules 
    2. adjudicate individual cases 
    3. use administrative discretion 
  2. Which of the following can be said to be true of the Federal government bureaucracy?  
    1. Federal bureaucracy consists of about 2.8 million civilian employees  
    2. the federal government spends about 50 % of the nation's GDP 
    3. the senior and most important cabinet office is the Department of the Interior 
    4. legislation is crafted by agencies and take effect unless Congress otherwise passes a law to the contrary 
    5. agencies are exempt from executive orders
  3. Historically government employment was based on party loyalty, political support and friendship.  This was known as:
    1.  the compare system 
    2. the spoils system 
    3. the patronage system 
    4. the merit system 
    5. the Borda method 
  4. Government contracting with private firms to perform public services is known as: 
    1. privatization 
    2. private - public partnerships 
    3. socialism 
    4. outsourcing 
    5. cooperation 
  5. A method of budgeting that tries to review the entire budget of an agency (not just the requested changes ) is: 
    1. management by objective budgeting  
    2. incremental budgeting 
    3. zero - based budgeting 
    4. Non-programmatic budgeting 
    5. rescission 
  6. The agency that is responsible for conducting studies of the federal bureaucratic performance is the:  
    1. Office of Management and Budget  
    2. Congressional Budget Office 
    3. General Accountability Office  
    4. Office of the Comptroller 
    5. The Federal Reserve 
  7. In an effort to influence the bureaucracy,  interest groups may perform which of the following activities  (circle all that apply): 
    1. hold press conferences and create media events 
    2. lobby the bureaucracy directly 
    3. testify at public hearings 
    4. institute potential rules through private action 
  8. The courts became involved in agency actions when they: (circle all that apply): 
    1. violate congressional legislation 
    2. have exceeded the authority granted to them  
    3. have engaged in activities that have been determined to be arbitrary 
    4. the issue is only constitutional 
Answers:
  1. All
  2. A
  3. B
  4. D
  5. C
  6. C
  7. Only 1 and 4
  8. Only 1 and 4
High School American Government