One-Room School Lessons - Lesson Plan
Henry R. Pattengill
(1852-1918) published the Michigan School Moderator from 1884 until his death in
1918. A graduate of the University of Michigan, he was elected Michigan's
Superintendent of Public Instruction in 1892 and re-elected in 1894. The
Michigan School Moderator provided teachers with the latest education-related
news, suggestions for lessons, advertisements for school-related products and
more. One recurring feature in the Moderator was a report on "morning
exercises" from various schools around the state. These reports provide a
glimpse into the type of work done in Michigan classrooms during the late
- Students will be able
to perform a simple recitation.
- Students will be able
to discuss the differencesand similaritiesin education in the late
19th century, pioneer days and today.
Michigan Social Studies Curriculum
This lesson presents an
opportunity to address, in part, these standards:
- SOC.I.2. Comprehending
the Past. All students will understand narratives about major eras of
American and world history by identifying the people involved, describing
the setting, and sequencing the events.
- SOC.I.3. Analyzing and
Interpreting the Past. All students will reconstruct the past by comparing
interpretations written by others from a variety of perspectives and
creating narratives from evidence.
Although "Growing Up
in Michigan" portrays life at the end of the 19th century, most students
will associate one-room schools with pioneer or settlement days. Visit a one-room
school that shows pioneer education in Michigan if there is one in your area.
Learn all you can about school during settlement days. Then encourage students
to ask parents and grandparents about what they know about one-room schools.
They should discover that the schools were still used well into the 20th century
in rural or remote areas. Some are still used as families look for alternate
types of educational opportunities.
Learn more about the late
19th century. Using the encyclopedia, the Internet and other resources, look up information about the
Victorian era and the Industrial Revolution. Determine
ways in which schooling might have changed from settlement days to these more "modern" times.
Plan Victorian-era school
lessons. For ideas and a model, see the Lessons from the Michigan
School Moderator, 1884-85.
According to the Michigan School Moderator, schools often opened the day with exercises that
included singing; brief readings by the teacher and the pupils, interesting
facts about notable men and women, consideration of current events, and
"Golden Thoughts" that had been written on the chalkboard and
memorized. Include all these elements in your lessons.
If possible, select some lessons from the McGuffey Eclectic
Readers. Ahead of time,
assign some recitations for performance. Authors such as Ralph Waldo Emerson,
Walt Whitman and
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow were widely read in the schools. You will find their poems in the
McGuffey Eclectic Readers and in many anthologies. Plan an arithmetic
lesson from Ray's Arithmetic or other math text.
Include a lesson in
penmanship. Penmanship was an important subject of study. While pupils in the youngest
grades might have still used slates to practice their letters,
use of pencils and pencil tablets in all grades was common. Older students
learned Spencerian script which they practiced with steel-nibbed pens dipped
into ink wells.
Questions for Discussion or
- Who was Henry R.
Pattengill? What did he mean to Michigan?
- What is Spencerian
Script? Who was Spencer? Why did he design the letter style that bears his
- Had you realized that
designers develop the various styles of printing and writing that you see?
Collect samples from magazines and newspapers for a display.
- Look up and discuss the
meaning of these terms: Industrial Revolution (Industrial Age), Victorian
At the Museum
- Visit these exhibits
and compare the education-related information you find: Settlement and
Growing Up in Michigan, 1880-1895.
- Listen to the
"morning exercises" in the classroom (push-button audio program).
Memorize the "Golden Thought for the Day" that you hear in this
recitation: "Do not look for wrong or evil, You will find them if you
do; As you measure for your neighbor, He will measure back to you"
- Exercises: a
program or activities done as part of a regular academic routine, including
recitations of a secular or religious nature, songs, pledge to the flag,
Revolution/Industrial Age: Years of social and economic change after the
Industrial Revolution when manufacturing shifted from the making of things
by hand to the manufacture of goods in factories.
- Nib: A pen point
Script: Handwriting, as distinguished from printing
- Victorian Age:
The period of the reign of Queen Victoria of England (1837-1901)
- Cobblestone: The
History Magazine for Young People. See these issues: America at Work:
The Industrial Revolution (9/81, Vol. 2, No. 9); Old-time Schools in America
(11/81, Vol. 2, No. 11); American Clothing; Then and Now (10/85, Vol. 6, No.
10); Toys of the Past (12/86, Vol. 7, No. 12). For subscription and back
copy information, see www.cobblestonepub.com.
- Freeman, John Crosby
(1991). Victorian Style. NY: Crescent Books.
- Gulliford, Andrew
(1984). America's Country Schools. Washington, DC: The Preservation
- Lindberg, Stanley W.
(1976) The Annotated McGuffey: Selections from the McGuffey Eclectic
Readers, 1836-1920. NY: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company.
- McGuffey, William
Holmes (1920). McGuffey Eclectic Readers (Revised). NY: Van Nostrand
- Ray, Joseph (1877). Ray's
New Intellectual Arithmetic. N.p.: Van Antwerp, Bragg & Co.
(Reprinted in 1985 by and available from Mott Media, Inc., 1000 East Huron
St., Milford, MI 48042)
- Ray, Joseph (1877). Ray's
New Practical Arithmetic. N.p.: Van Antwerp, Bragg & Co. (Reprinted
in 1985 by and available from Mott Media, Inc., 1000 East Huron St.,
Milford, MI 48042)
- Rosenberg, S. H. (Ed.)
(1979). Rural America A Century Ago. St. Joseph, MI: American Society
of Agricultural Engineers.
- Schlereth, Thomas J.
(1991). Victorian America: Transformations in Everyday Life, 1876-1915.
NY: Harper Collins Publishers.
- Westerhoff, III John H.
(1978). McGuffey and His Readers: Piety, Morality, and Education in
Nineteenth-Century America. Nashville: Abingdon Press.
- VIDEO: Learning to
Write Spencerian Script with Michael Sull (55 minutes). Purchase from
Lettering Design Group, 5830 Nall Avenue, Suite 2, Mission, KS 66202. (www.spencerian.com)
Contact the Michigan Historical Museum.