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Today you’ll be going back in time to go to the rendezvous as a trapper or trader. You’ll try to get rich trading goods and services with other people.

Along the way you’ll face untold dangers in the wilderness. The ones who make it through alive…win.

Choose your rendezvous identity. These are all real people who worked as trappers or traders in the Rocky Mountains in 1834. As you can see, they came from many different places and represented a variety of nationalities.

You’re about to leave St. Louis, Missouri, and travel across over 1,200 miles of trackless wilderness to reach the rendezvous site. Can you survive your year in the mountains?

So begins our Time Travel Field Trip to 1834. It’s unlike any history lecture, textbook or presentation you’ve ever seen. Why?

First of all, it’s incredibly engaging. History is so often taught as a fait accompli, something where the conclusion is already known, something that happened a long time ago to other people.

This is different.

Engaging:

  • Students face real decisions from the time, and feel the effects of the consequences on themselves and their friends. It makes history immediate, urgent, and emotionally compelling.
  • Students are not hearing about events from someone else. They live it themselves, which makes it memorable.
  • There’s an element of chance. In addition to the group decision, every individual student experiences real events from the time, chosen after extensive historical research. Dice rolls determine if the student will experience the (usually horrible, because that’s just so much more interesting) consequences. They hold their breath, blow on the dice, and cheer or groan at their results.

Depth of knowledge:

  • Someone once said the devil is in the details. I think the opposite is true. To feel like you are traveling through dangerous and unknown territory toward the rendezvous on the Green River, you need the little details of daily life that make history a foreign country.
  • It’s what you have to teach anyway. Before beginning three months of historical research, I looked at the current Colorado standards, and built from there. The pre and post-test, the decisions and events in the game, everything directly teaches your history, geography, and economics curriculum for you.
  • Higher-level thinking is engaged when students have to think through the ethics and opportunity costs of real and complex decisions.
  • Students learn essential background knowledge through Reader’s Theater using short comics.
  • Primary sources are woven into letters from the past and shared both in writing, and in movie form (using pictures and images from the time). They are always linked to what the students are about to face. After all, you care a lot more about what it was like to live in the Rocky Mountains as a trapper or trader when it’s your own life on the line.

Rendezvous focuses on:

  • Why was the rendezvous important to both the trappers and traders?
  • What were the economic realities of the rendezvous? Was it better to be a trapper or a trader?
  • What was life like as a trapper or trader?
  • What was it like at the rendezvous?
  • What goods and services did the trappers and traders provide to each other?
  • How do geographical features such as rivers and mountains affect humans?
  • Use map skills to make wise decisions about the best route.
  • Includes time for students to haggle and trade goods and services.

Standards:

(DOK 1-2) Describe how the physical environment provides opportunities for human activities

• (SS09-GR.4-S.1-GLE.2) Students know about the historical eras and groups in Colorado history.

• (DOK 1-3) Give examples of the kinds of goods and services produced in Colorado in different historical periods and their connection to economic incentives (although this is the whole Rocky Mountain region. See lesson 3 for just Colorado). 

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