The Impact of the Expedition
Submitted by: Christine McCoid
Lesson Overview
Concept This lesson is designed as a wrap-up for a Lewis and Clark Expedition unit.  After researching and discussing the expedition and its results, students are asked to evaluate the expedition and its impact on the development of our nation.
Performance Objectives

Students will be able to:
1. Evaluate research results.
2.  Synthesize information.
3.  Write a position paper related to the Expedition of the Corps of Discovery.


1. Notes from Lewis and Clark Expedition unit.
2. Research sources and materials.
3. Lewis and Clark trail maps.
4. Computer(s), Internet Web browser


1.  Upon nearing the end of the class's study of Lewis and Clark and the Expedition of the Corps of Discovery, ask students to review their unit notes, recall class discussions, and look at their journals and maps.  Have students formulate theories about the Lewis and Clark expedition.  Some thought questions you might pose are:    What was the purpose of the expedition?  Was it successful?  What was the greatest accomplishment of Lewis and Clark?  How did the expedition change America?

2.  Discuss with students that a position paper is an essay in which the writer takes and supports one side of an issue.  Have students choose (or assign) a position related to the Lewis and Clark expedition, and write a position paper.  Remind students that their positions cannot be based solely on opinion.  They will need to include facts they have discovered in their research, and they can include quotes, excerpts from journals, portions of maps, etc. to enhance their writing.

Some possible topics are:

  • Discovery of natural resources

  • Impact on Native American tribes

  • Relationships between the Corps (and later settlers) and Native Americans

  • Acquisition and settling of the Louisiana Territory

  • Map creation/discovery of unknown regions

3.  Have students work independently on their papers.  When complete, share them as a class and use their positions as a starting point to discuss the impact of the Lewis and Clark expedition on our modern nation.

Teacher Notes Refer to content in the "Filling the Empty Space" article.
Student Assessment Tools Written assignment

Students will be assessed on:
1. Accurate, complete position paper.
2. Inclusion of factual references, quotes, maps, journal excerpts.

Related Web Sites Lewis and Clark Expedition Map:  Library of Congress map from the expedition. Has zoom capability.

The Lewis and Clark Trail:  Links and resources about the expedition.

The History of the Lewis and Clark Expedition:  A detailed history of the expedition.

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