Before: Introduce the lesson by asking, "Can you think of an invention that may have made your life easier, or made a task faster or cheaper to complete?" Allow students a chance to respond. Then, explain that today the class will learn about the invention of the steamboat and how it changed the lives of yeoman farmers, slaves, plantation owners, and townspeople in Alabama during the early nineteenth century.
Place the students in groups of 3 students per group. Each group needs an iPad or computer with internet connection. Pass out the Cotton Transportation Venn Diagram (one per student, in attachments). Show the class the 2 pictures, (1) Unloading Cotton from the Steamboat R.C. Gunter at Decatur, Alabama and (2) Bales of Cotton on a Wagon Outside of Bullock Warehouse in Bullock County on the Smart Board.
Tell the students to closely examine the two pictures "Unloading Cotton from the Steamboat R.C. Gunter at Decatur, Alabama" and "Bales of Cotton on Wagon at Bullock Warehouse in Bullock County" with their group. Each group will complete their Venn diagram by writing down any descriptions of how the two modes of transportation are similar in the area where the circles overlap. They will write down any descriptions of how the two modes of transportation are different in the circle under each picture's title. Set your class timer for 10 minutes for groups to complete. Then, allow students to share their answers. Facilitate a discussion about how the invention of the steamboat changed transportation in the South and increased the economy by making it easier to transport larger amounts of cotton to market. In most cases, steamboats would load cotton from the wharf on the plantation owner's own property.
During: Remind students that with the invention of the steamboat, it was easier to transport goods as well as people up and down the rivers of Alabama, and many new Alabama towns began to pop up along the river. The invention of the steamboat brought progress to Alabama as well as industry. Many Alabamians travelled by steamboat instead of stagecoaches. Show students the video of The Tour of the American Queen: The Largest Steamboat Ever Built.
Show students the picture of the "American Stage Coach". Pass out the Leisure Travel T-charts (one per student, in attachments) and have the students list attributes of the steamboat and the stagecoach. Set the classroom timer for 10 minutes to allow students time to complete. Facilitate a discussion about how comfortable transportation on a steamboat was compared to traveling on a stagecoach for a long distance. Transportation for leisure increased during the 1800s because steamboats made traveling more comfortable and people could carry more luggage. Steamboats were a little bit more expensive, but well worth the trip due to the comfort. Also, passengers might have their own rooms, bathrooms, and dining areas on a steamboat.
After: Pass out the Create a Steamboat Ad Directions and Rubric (in attachments, one per student). Have students create a steamboat advertisement for a steamboat from the 1800s. This should be a one-page ad that could appear in a newspaper or magazine. The students ad should include a drawing of a steamboat, color throughout, why people should be interested, a price, a list of what a steamboat can provide the customer, and a made up quote from someone living during the time period. Students' advertisements will be posted around the room.