2.7 Teaching about the Dismal Swamp Canal
The following teaching suggestions are designed to help fourth-grade teachers discuss the article “The Dismal Swamp Canal” with students.
- Have students read the first paragraph and then discuss why they think the first sentence begins, “Transportation in northeastern North Carolina was difficult in the eighteenth century …” Ask students what geographical features in the northeastern region of the state made transportation difficult.
- In a class discussion, frame the second paragraph as a problem-based learning activity. The problem was that transportation was difficult in the area, so the commissioners worked together to create a solution – building a canal. Use the information and animation on the page “How a Canal Works” to build background knowledge of how building a canal was a good solution to the problem.
- While reading the third paragraph, show a map of the state on an interactive whiteboard. As locations are mentioned, mark them on the map to enhance student comprehension.
- The fourth paragraph presents another opportunity to discuss problems and solutions. The problem in this case is that the company building the canal ran out of money. As a result, portions at either end of the canal were finished, but not the middle, which meant that people could travel by water at the beginning of the trip, then had to move to a wagon for the middle of the trip, and then back into the water for the end of the trip. Lead a discussion about how that solution worked (listing both the positives and negatives). Ask students to brainstorm other ideas about how that problem could have been solved.
- As students read through the article, have them fill in a T chart to keep track of the problems encountered and the solutions created.
Problems encountered Solutions created
- As a wrap-up discussion after reading the article, remind students that the article begins by discussing how transportation was difficult in northeastern North Carolina. Ask them how transportation in the region changed.
- Use the links in the right sidebar under “Learn More” as research opportunities for higher-level students or students who finish other activities early.
North Carolina curriculum alignment
Social Studies (2003)
- Goal 1: The learner will apply the five themes of geography to North Carolina and its people.
- Objective 1.04: Evaluate ways the people of North Carolina used, modified, and adapted to the physical environment, past and present.
- North Carolina Essential Standards
- Social Studies (2010)
- 4.G.1 Understand how human, environmental and technological factors affect the growth and development of North Carolina. 4.G.1.1 Summarize changes that have occurred in North Carolina since statehood (population growth, transportation, communication and land...
- Social Studies (2010)