Teach PA History
Pennsylvania's Iron Furnaces: Forging the Industrialization of the Nation
Equipment & Supplies
  • Computers with Internet access (1 for every two students) PowerPoint computer program overhead projector/whiteboard/chalkboard transparencies If PowerPoint is unavailable, students will also need: poster board (5 for every 2 students) scissors adhesive (tape or glue) magic marker

Day One

  1. Before class begins prepare transparencies of the lesson images (16 total). Once class begins, place each image on the overhead for several seconds. Explain to students that they are going to be working with these images during this lesson. Any ideas what topic they may be exploring? (Allow for student hypotheses. From the images the theme of the iron industry should be apparent. However, students might not yet discern that these images when properly paired also reflect industrialization of the iron industry.)

  2. Next define the word "industrialization". In a discussion and using the chalkboard or white board, list possible definitions. Answers should describe industrialization as the process of economic change through increased production, technological innovation or invention, and improved efficiency.

  3. Review the concept of "Industrial Revolution." What do your students know about the Industrial Revolution? Ask them what they know and record individual responses (on chalkboard, overhead, or whiteboard) to create a collective class impression. Students might mention as impressions:

    • moving from rural to urban life

    • environmental concerns of urban life (pollution, illness)

    • formation of labor unions to protect worker's rights/child labor laws

    • the assembly line (Ford cars)

    • mass production

    • important innovations: spinning frame, steam engine, electricity

    For material to inform your class discussion disseminate to your class Student Handout 1-Background Information on the Industrial Revolution and keep one for yourself as well. Allow students a few minutes to read this handout.

    Highlight the definition and for emphasis write the three basic societal characteristics of an industrial revolution on the board/overhead:

    1. Expansion of transportation

    2. Innovation or discovery of better power sources

    3. Improvements made to industrial process

  4. Now ask students, "We have learned some information about the textile industry in relation to the industrial revolution, but what role does the Iron Industry have in the Industrial Revolution?"

    In order to begin to answer this question, have students look at the Pennsylvania Iron Industry in particular, since it dominated United States iron production throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Students should read the Overview Essay: The Pennsylvania Iron Industry: Furnace and Forge of America and answer the questions on Student Worksheet 1- Data Collection.

    Using the answers from Teacher Guide to Student Worksheet 1-Data Collection lead a discussion on the worksheet and answer any questions students may have. Notice that the questions on the worksheet are designed to give students a basic appreciation for the significance of Pennsylvania's iron industry (see Questions 1 and 2) as well as to point out some of the industrialization characteristics of the iron industry (see Questions 3 and 4). To further explore students" answers to Questions 3 and 4, return to the three societal characteristics of an industrial revolution written on the board. Based on their reading and responses, ask students to connect these characteristics specifically to the iron industry.

    • Expansion of transportation: The growth of railroads offered the iron industry a market opportunity for products such as railroad cars, rails, spikes, etc. To keep up the railroad high demands, the iron industry was motivated to improve the efficiency of their iron output.

    • Innovation or discovery of better power sources: The reading cites the change of fuel for furnaces–from charcoal to mineral fuels such as anthracite, bituminous coal, and finally coke.

    • Improvements made to industrial process: Examples mentioned in the reading include: the creation of larger production facilities, the replacement of forges with rolling mills, and the integration of furnaces with rolling mills.

  5. Handout Student Worksheet 2-Iron Furnace Case Study to students and explain the following directions. On the ExplorePAhistory website the story of the Pennsylvania Iron Industry is broken down into different chapters according to historical periods defined by the fuel source of furnaces: Chapter One: Growth of the Charcoal Iron Industry, 1716-1840 and Chapter Three: The Transition to Mineral Fuels and Transformation of the Industry, 1840-1880. Students will be reading about one furnace from each time period. They will read about markerColebrookdale Furnace, the first blast furnace established in Berks County, Pennsylvania circa 1720, and markerClinton Furnace, the first bituminous-coke furnace operating in Pittsburgh around 1859. Print these historical marker pages and distribute to each student. (If computers are available, students can also find the historical marker pages on the website.) The case study of a furnace from each period allows students to examine the iron-making process of each era and to compare industrial changes made throughout the years. Note: To help students visualize the process of the cold blast furnace described in the reading on Colebrookdale Furnace, you could also print out and disseminate Diagram of a Cold Blast Furnace.
    Students will spend the rest of the period working on the case study and complete any unfinished questions for homework.

Day Two

  1. As students enter the class, divide them into pairs. Have them discuss their responses to their homework assignment. After the discussion ask students to share their answers to the case study. Focus on the last question of the worksheet. On the chalkboard or white board create a two-column chart to note the characteristics of the iron furnaces during the two different periods. Particular attention should be paid to the similarities and differences of the technology, setting, and industrialization of the furnaces. You may use Teacher Guide to Student Worksheet 2-Iron Furnace Case Study

  2. Upon completion of the discussion students will continue working in pairs on a PowerPoint project. Disseminate Student Worksheet 3-Iron Image Pairing. Students will view sixteen (16) images listed in the Teacher Resource section and place them into five (5) dual image, side-by-side PowerPoint slides.

    By requiring only five slides and the use of only ten images the assignment remains open ended and encourages analytic thought by the students. For a list of possible matches see Teacher Guide to Student Worksheet 3-Iron Image Pairing, but remain open to student creativity, explanation, and interpretation. Each slide should pair the images in an order that clarifies the transitions of the Iron Industry. With each slide students must clarify what transition they are exposing. Each image pairing must have a purpose and a justification. Students may choose to pair images to show a chronological progression of the industry or to split each slide by time period. The PowerPoint should include a title slide and proper citation of their sources for the pictures. You may choose the citation format that will be required for the final slide. This activity not only allows students to visualize the changes, but it forces them to consciously order the iron industry into time periods. The information of the PowerPoint will serve a dual purpose by doubling as support material for the culminating writing assignment. This assignment should take no more than 30 minutes depending on the student's familiarity with the PowerPoint program.

    Note: If you do not have access to PowerPoint, this assignment can be completed by hand with hardcopy images that can be handed out to the students. Students could pair the images and tape or glue them to poster board and write their explanations underneath the images.

    When completed, PowerPoints can be printed for submission or electronically submitted to you at the end of the period. (During assessment of this activity, you may wish to refer to Teacher Guide to Student Worksheet 3-Iron Image Pairing to see examples of possible pairings.)

  3. Hand out the final essay assignment Student Worksheet 4- Student Culminating Essay as homework. Ask students if they have any questions about the prompt. Final essays can be graded by using the rubric provided, which is an adaptation of the PA Domain Scoring Guide.

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