Who Wants to Be a Pioneer?
Designed by Rob Dent and Paula White

Spring 2000

Introduction | Task | Process | Evaluation | Conclusion | Teacher Page | Home


The game show, "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" has been accused of fostering egocentricism, or personal gains, above philanthropic goals. To combat that perception, the producers want to create a game show that encourages people to find ways of contributing to society--exploring new frontiers of science, finding new medical cures, encouraging tolerance and acceptance of cultural diversity, and trying out new ways of solving social problems (i.e., using mediation instead of the court system). Their overall goal is to support the understanding of our past combined with knowledge of the present to create visions of the future.

The producers of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" want to create a show based on conquering new frontiers called "Who Wants To Be A Pioneer?" Their first show looks at the pioneer spirit of those who settled America's frontier in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. To encourage people to seek new frontiers, the show will only air commercials that deal with the theme of the game show--pioneers seeking new frontiers.

The producers are currently looking for new writers. They have decided that students often know more than adults about American history because they are freshly studying it. To test their idea, they have contacted our class to ask that we write some questions for them and try them out in a game show format. Next, we use the information we've learned to create sample commercials that demonstrate our notions of "pioneer" and "frontier." The producers will then use the commercials we create to solicit sponsors for their new show.

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The Task

You will work in Wagon Train teams of 3 or 4 to visit preselected sites on the Internet to learn about settlers in different parts of America as the edge of the frontier moved west. With the information you learn, you will create questions for each level of the game show and then play the game.

The second part of this quest is to create a commercial to demonstrate how the people you study show pioneer qualities such as risk-taking, perseverance, ingenuity, a sense of forethought and planning, and others you find as you work. We will then play the game again with a real audience, complete with the commercials you have created and produced.

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The Process

  1. First, you'll be assigned to a team of 3 or 4 students, and together, you will be responsible for learning about pioneers moving to the American West. You will learn about them through examining specific web sites. You will be given at least two forty minute time periods to search your sites and learn the information gathered there. See the assigned Wagon Train Teams.
  2. Once you've examined the sites given to you, you will be given another forty minute time period to review your sites and create four multiple choice questions that can be answered from the information on your sites. Your team should refer to the guidelines for creating the questions, both individually and as a team. These four questions will consist of one from each of three levels: easy, medium and hard, and one from the category of your choice.

    You create the questions in a word processing document so they will be easy to combine into your team's list. Save your work into the folder on the shared folder that has your team name and your name on it.

  3. You will then get together with your team and compile the team's questions by copying and pasting each person's questions into the team document. Leave the individual questions in the individual folder. You will have at least one 40 minute period to compile and revise the questions together. Some questions may need to be omitted, others completely reworded. Change them as necessary to fit the team's thinking and have five good questions in each category. Print both your individual and your team questions and give them to the teacher for feedback.
  4. Your questions will be returned to you and you have another forty minutes to revise them, and make your final copy.
  5. Once you have done that, your team will decide who will answer the questions in the first, second and third rounds. The "player" assigned to each round will answer each of the five questions your team has created, so today is the day you practice and make sure each person knows all of the answers.
  6. The game will be played, with the lifelines being:
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At the end of this unit, you should have an understanding of what was happening in the United States as people moved from the settled lands of the east to the unknown frontiers of the western lands. The sites you will visit will particularly help your understanding of the action in the United States from the late 1700s to 1900. You will understand the hardships, the opportunities and the creative, resourceful spirit of those pioneers who set examples for generations to come.

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Last updated on May 02, 2000 by Paula White

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