Before: Together with the students, brainstorm a list of reasons people move to a new city or state. (examples: lost their job, got a new job, move closer to family, school, health, change in climate, marriage,). Explain to students that people move because of many different reasons. One reason may be just to start a new life in a new place.
In the early nineteenth century, many people were moving to Alabama because they saw moving to Alabama as an "opportunity" to purchase new land to grow cotton, and some people thought it was an opportunity for a chance to "benefit" from the many settlers moving into Alabama. This time period is called "Alabama Fever".
Many small towns were developing near rivers and industry was growing because of the demand for cotton. Say, "We are going to read a letter from an actual "newcomer" to the state of Alabama during the early nineteenth century and look for evidence to describe environmental factors that might have encouraged him to move to Alabama.
Step One: Project the Joseph Noble letter from the Alabama Department of Archives and History on the Smart Board. This is the original handwritten letter. Point out the date written at the top of the letter and briefly discuss the time period. Students may have difficulty reading this letter because of its age and cursive handwriting. An alternative would be to have the students pull the annotated transcribed copy of the Joseph Noble letter (page one) and Joseph Noble letter (page two) for easier viewing and reading on their IPADS, Chromebooks, laptops, etc. (This may also be printed for students who don't have access to IPADS or Chromebooks). If students don't have any trouble reading the original handwritten letter here is the link for those pages: original annotated page one, original annotated page two, original annotated page three, original annotated page four,
Step Two: Students will closely read the letter together in their small groups, and add comments to each of the annotations in red. (Comments can be added by clicking on the comment icon and typing their comment then clicking post comment.)
Step Three: Set the timer for 15 minutes for groups to complete their comments, then lead a discussion about some interesting attractions of Alabama mentioned in the letter that may have encouraged Joseph Noble and other settlers to move to Alabama. Make a list of these on the board and compare them to the reasons listed earlier of why people move to a new city or state. Are there similarities?
After: Distribute the rubric and directions for the Alabama Fever Postage Stamp and the postage stamp template. Working in their groups of 3 students per group, students will choose one of the interesting attractions in Alabama mentioned in the Joseph Noble letter and design a postage stamp around the attraction. Their postage stamp should include the following: (1) the name of the state: Alabama (2) a colored drawing of their interesting attraction in Alabama mentioned in the Joseph Noble letter, (3) a one-word adjective describing the interesting attraction.