WebQuest Lesson - New Harmony Revisited

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In partial fulfillment of

UNL Class CI 889

This document was last updated on 21 April 2001 (Ver. 1.6.1)

New Harmony Revisited :
Learning from the Past, Preparing for the Future

A WebQuest Lesson for High School Social Studies Students.

This is a work in progress !

This WebQuest Lesson can easily be adapted for
geography, economics, and government classes.

Introduction      Task      The Process and Resources      Conclusion      General Comments for the Teacher

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The Big Question

What can we learn from the New Harmonony experience about sustainability, education, and viable rural communities, and apply that knowledge to the future?

For most of the 20th Century, changes slowly took place in America's Great Plains. There were modest population fluctuations, and economic good times and bad. Sometimes the inhabitants decided their own future and course of action, and quite often major decisions were made at great distances from the Great Plains. The effects of
water influenced native plants and animals and through the weather (climate), important economic decisions were made as well. While agriculture has been the major economic activity in the Great Plains, many other enterprises, much as manufacturing, mining and commerce have also helped to put food on the table.

In this WebQuest Lesson, we'll consider some of the major factors which influenced people to stay or to leave the region, in the past and now. At the end of the activity, students will be able to analyze the landscape and better understand the major economic and political factors which influence local and regional migration.

This Lesson had its origins some fifteen years ago as a UNL Curriculum and Instruction assignment in which we were asked to design a school schedule based on certain criteria. Morphing into a lesson for junior high students, it became known as the "New Harmony, Nebraska" project. They read about the Nineteenth Century New Harmony, Indiana, community, discussed its problems and its potentials. Their "New Harmony, Nebraska" communities were based on the 19th Century model with some interesting adolescent concepts thrown in as well. Students designed a map of their new community (some were very detailed), a tourist brochure, and other materials. I don't know if any of them became regional planners but some of them were well on their way.

Throughout this WebQuest Lesson, students will be mindful of the New Harmony model and be prepared to draw comparisons between the 19th Century community and their own community. Hopefully, this will encourage you and your classmates to consider life in a rural community as a viable option.

A brief history of New Harmony Was it really the 'Utopia'?.

For the Introductory activity, students are invited to consider the factors which influence life in rural communities. Visit your school media center, public library, as well as the web for descriptions of...

  • agriculture - what has been its role in the past, where are we now, and what is its future?
  • culture - how does one's lifestyle impact on the decision to remain in or leave the region?
  • economic - what decisions are being made which influence people and the environment?
  • education - what courses / training offer skills promoting young students and adults' lifelong learning?

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    In this WebQuest Lesson, high school social studies students will ...
  • study the history of Great Plains agriculture, its current characteristics, and future trends
  • research the role which economics plays in decision-making
  • comprehend some of the cultural characteristics of the region's inhabitants
  • interact with decision-makers who cause broad change to occur
  • evaluate strategies which will influence one's decision on whether or not to stay in one's community and the region, based in part on the 19th Century New Harmony community

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    The Task
    In this Webquest Lesson, we'll learn about the variables which influence young people to remain in their rural communities or move away. We'll consider why people make the economic and cultural decisions they do. We'll identify special interest groups (SIGs) which influence one's decisions and we'll analyze some decision-making strategies addressing the Big Question.

    The Process
    From a rural Great Plains perspective, students will collect background materials regarding the broad topics as described above. For example, we'll look at the physical landscape and how it's influenced human activity, study the native flora and fauna and how the climate impacts on economic decisions. We'll examine major cultural characteristics of the region's past and of the present. We'll analyze economic factors which influenced migration and consider why major economic decisions are made and by whom. Finally, we'll synthesize some strategies to clarify the decision-making process and seek out those who measure and influence the "tension on the landscape."

    Sites which everyone will read
  • Center for Rural Affairs      Read The Case for Small Schools and Small Schools Big Results
  • America's Private Land : Geography of Hope "Explore the State of Our Land! America's Private Land, A Geography of Hope (in 3 parts) tells the story of America's private, nonurban land. As it's a long document, ask your teacher which parts you should read. (Click here if you need to download Adobe Acrobat Reader first)
  • Historic New Harmony Your teacher will tell you which parts you should read, such as the early years of New Harmony.
  • After visiting these three sites, be prepared to discuss ten major ideas. As with all web sites you visit for this assignment, take notes whenever appropriate. It is suggested that you keep a list of unfamiliar terminology, for you may wish to incorporate some of them in your final product. Write a one page summary weaving together some current issues which small town residents face with those of the past. Check early with your teacher regarding the expectations for this Lesson.

    Your teacher has selected appropriate sites on the internet for you to visit for this activity. You and your classmates will be divided into six research teams, based on Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and their Roles in this 'New Harmony Revisited' Lesson. Note that there's always some overlap among SIGs and their place within this broad topic. Your teacher will tell you which sites to visit within your SIG.

    You and your team will be assigned one of the following Groups to research on this topic. Visit each of the URLs (Universal Resource Locator - web address) in your assigned Group. Be prepared to carefully cite each URL's author (when known), the documents' Title, organization name, date and important facts as presented. As you research the SIG assigned to you, complete the chart which will help you compare and contrast New Harmony of the 1820s with current conditions in your community and region. As you visit each site, keep the Big Question in mind.

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    Group 1 (SIG / Agriculture)

  • Farm Cooperatives
  • The Grange in Nebraska      See their Legislative Action 2001 Page
  • Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources UNL Division for education, research, development
  • American Farm Bureau      Nebraska Farm Bureau
  • USDA      Nebraska Department of Agriculture
  • Group 2 (SIG / Economic)

  • Nebraska Department of Economic Development      Community and Rural Development
          Trampled Dreams : The Neglected Economy of the Rural Great Plains
  • UNL College of Business Administration       Nebr Center for Entrepreneurship
  • Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry - site doesn't load
  • Nebraska Home Based Business Association - site didn't load
  • Nebraska Foundations Offering Funding to Non-Profits      Nebr Community Foundations      More Foundations
  • Group 3 (SIG / Cultural)

  • Volunteer Groups and Agencies      Toolkit for Volunteer Leaders
  • Nebraska Humanities Council      Chautauqua Institute
  • Civic Groups Cornhusker Council BSA      Nebr 4-H Groups      Homestead Girl Scout Council
  • Sports Groups - Nebraska Sports Writers Association
  • Farm Aid      Ethnic Groups of the Great Plains
  • Theatre / Fine Arts Nebraska Arts Council      UNK College of Fine Arts & Humanities
  • Nebraska Interfaith Council      Lincoln Interfaith Council
  • Farm & Ranch links      The Farmer's Wife      Plowing Up a Storm
          Last of the One Room Schools      Little Towns Like These
  • History Channel's Saving Culture of Small Towns
  • Corn Cam      National Association of Farm Broadcasters
  • Group 4 (SIG / Education)

  • School at the Center
  • Center for Rural Affairs      Nebraska Alliance for Rural Education
  • Visit Thomas Jefferson's Academical Village where "lifelong learning" began
  • Nebraska's Community Colleges - look for continuing education, agri-business and entrepreneurship classes
  • Educational Service Units
  • Nebraska Association of School Boards
  • Preservation Week 2001 "Restore, Renew, Rediscover Your Historic Neighborhood Schools!
  • AAG Geographic Education Groups

    Group 5 (SIG / Decision Makers)

  • Nebraska's Unicameral     History of the Unicameral
  • Nebraska Committee on Agriculture
  • Nebraska Committee of City Councils - Council of Local Governments
         Nebraska Association of County Officials National Association of Counties - Nebraska members
  • Natural Resource Districts
  • Multi-National Agri-Businesses     Nebraska Workforce Development
  • North American Free Trade Agreement      International Union of ... Ag Workers
  • World Trade Organization
  • United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization
  • ConAgra
  • Archer Daniel Midland
  • Tyson Foods
  • Iowa Beef Packers
  • Group 6 (SIG / Miscellaneous)      Ask your teacher which sites to visit

  • Loss of Local Economic and Political Control
  • Decline of Rural Health Care      Rural Population increasingly Elderly (see demographic maps)
  • Supporting Rural Health Care Safety Net
  • Rural Health Care, Great Plains County ND
  • Northern Great Plains Rural Development Act
  • Attending a Small School
  • Popper's Buffalo Commons Back to the Buffalo : The Economic Future of the Great Plains
  • Corporate Pigs and other Tales of Agribusiness"
  • Organic Certification in Nebraska
  • Open Harvest Food Cooperative, Lincoln NE
  • Child Labor in Agriculture
  • OSHA Agricutural Operations
  • Center for Applied Rural Innovation (formerly the Center for Rural
          Community Revitalization and Development) See link to Partnership for Rural Nebraska.
  • What killed downtown (Topeka KS)
  • Killing a Northern Town: Whitehorse 2000
  • Nebraska Jobs by City
  • Local Governments
  • Integrated Resource Management Focus Group Great Plains management discussion
  • Western Governor's Association          Centers of Excellence in Rural America
  • Northern Great Plains Initiative for Rural Development.
  • Social Studies History Standards K-12
  • Geographic Edcation and Public Policy H. J. deBlij
  • Center for Great Plains Study
  • Bibliography on the History of the North American Plains.
  • AAG Contemporary Agriculture and Rural Land Use
  • While reading the content at these web sites, take appropriate notes on paper and in computer text files. If you wish, subdivide your team to divide up the tasks. Several of you might research the sites while others can type the notes and prepare them for the next step. Be sure to check with your instructor for details. The study of 'New Harmony Revisited' can be a daunting task, which is why you and your team have been asked to reseach only one SIG. The larger task of understanding this important topic has been chunked into smaller, manageable sizes.

    At this point, the issue which you and your team must address is
    What does this SIG contribute to our understanding of the "New Harmony Revisited" Lesson?. Your search so far should help answer the Big Question.

    Print only the graphics (illustrations, maps and charts) which best describe the main idea. You are reminded of the Copyright Issues we've discussed. If you use information (facts, quotations and graphics) created by others, you must cite (give the author's name, Document's title, organization name, URL, and date) in your final product. Again, you must obtain written permission to publish someone else's work. Your instructor can assist you in drafting a letter requesting permission.

    Each member of your team must now contribute what you have learned while visiting the SIG you were assigned. Share your knowledge with your teammates. Often the topic is so complex, you'll need to examine the details in order to reach a consensus among your group. To promote transformation (demonstate what you've learned), you must construct new meaning and synthesize what you've learned. You and your team must create a product (such as HyperStudio Stack, a tri-fold brochure using desktop publishing software, a poster, a short videotape or QuickTime file, a PowerPoint presentation, a play, or an online document) to demonstrate what you and your teammates have learned from this activity so far. You must obtain permission from your teacher before you actually begin work on your product. At the end of this activity, all of the SIGs will present their Group findings in a panel discussion for the entire class.

    Go back to the Big Question and look for examples in which the websites (URLs) you visited actually address the Big Question. What arguments are presented? Are the arguments based on fact or opinion? How do you know? After your product selection has been approved by your teacher, go ahead and work on it. Refer to notes on paper and on floppy disk. Try to verify the facts as you best understand them. When your product has been completed, you must have it approved by your teacher before you complete the final step.

    From the websites you've visited and the Real World Feedback lists shown below, select three individuals who are willing to receive your final product and to evaluate it for you. Confirm your potential list of recipients with your teacher before you contact these individuals. Your final team product will then be sent by email or postal service to the individuals for their comments. You must make a serious attempt to contact three people and request they respond by email or in writing in a timely manner. Your teacher can help you create a letter of request to send.

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    Sources for Real World Feedback

    Your group's conclusion can be sent to the following places (after your product has been approved by the instructor) for comment and evaluations (See also March's list for more choices).
  • Directory of Email list servers
  • Web 66 International WWW Schools Registry
  • Teacher contact database
  • Pitsco's Launch to Asking an Expert
  • Conclusion
    Now that we've completed our WebQuest Lesson, let's answer this important question : Has this activity addressed the
    Big Question? What have been the most significant points you've learned during this activity? After your internet research, analysis, product design and creation, do you have a deeper understanding of a real, gray area, challenging topic? Consider what you've learned from this experience and how you can apply that knowledge and those skills in new ways. Write a one page summary of this WebQuest activity and what's it's meant to you. Give specific examples from your research, analysis, product design and processes you used to reach your conclusions.

    Your teacher may have given you a feedback sheet or several URLs to visit before you complete your group's product and your evaluation of this activity. Submit a copy of the answers to the questions listed above, plus your electronic notes, and final product to the teacher and keep a copy for yourself.

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    (WQnewharm.html)gen 21 April 2001