Gold Rush Fever

by Jason Madsen '07

I've got a fever; the only prescription is more gold! At least that's how many miners felt when they came to California searching for the rags to riches dream during the Gold Rush era.

On Thursday, December 7, in the LAPC Board Room, 6 history majors and more than 25 fourth grade teachers attended an event that benefited the students and teachers with a new approach to learning history. Inspired by APU history professor Tom Andrews, his Historical Themes class presented a teaching unit on the history of the California Gold Rush. Teachers in attendance represented many Southern California school districts, including Azusa, Glendora, Glendale, Charter Oak, La Puente, Bonita, and Bassett. One teacher traveled more than an hour from Westmont College to listen to the presentation on this new lesson plan.

The original intent of the Historical Themes course was to have the students write a 20-page paper that they would work on throughout the semester and turn in before finals week. However, Tom Andrews found a new approach to their learning that would in turn benefit future students.

Andrews began to ponder as to what the students could do in the paper's stead. So, he came up with several topics that the class could choose from, including the Gold Rush. The students willingly accepted the challenge to create a lesson plan examining the California Gold Rush that would meet the state's education standards.

"We tried to put reading, writing, and history standards together rather than having different sets of instruction," said Nicole Kaiser '07, history major.

The night rolled on as each student was introduced to talk about the topic that they spearheaded in the project. From routes the miners took, to the global effect of the rush, to the different methods of mining and lifestyle of the mining camps, each student produced a snippet of what was in store for the curriculum.

Though the lesson plan is not yet complete, teachers did not leave empty handed. Andrews held a raffle for the teachers giving out books such as John Doble’s Journal and Letters from the Mines, valued between $75-100. Other books were given away as well as a California stamp portraying historical events and attractions.