The Spokane People and the Grand Coulee Dam


The Spokane People and the Grand Coulee Dam


Grand Coulee Dam (Wash.)
Spokane (Wash.) -- History


Joshua Parker


Washington State Library, Office of the Secretary of State




[Grades 6-12]

In this focused inquiry, students investigate the question Should the Spokane people be further compensated for their losses related to the Grand Coulee Dam?

Students engage in a visual analysis of a series of images, maps, and charts; a deep read of a U.S. Senate bill report; an argumentative writing task; and finally reaching out to their senators by phone or email.

Lesson Objectives

  • Students will be able to analyze details of visuals to learn about the place, history, and issue.
  • Students will deeply read a senate report to construct understanding.
  • Students will create a claim and use it to communicate with their state senators.
  • Students will understand a historical issue related to the breaking of treaty obligations by the United States.


Common Core English Language Arts Standards, History/Social Studies
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.1.  Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.3.  Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain.
College, Career, and Civic Life Framework
(See C3 Framework to adjust to the grade level of the audience of this lesson)
  • D3.3.6-8.  Identify evidence that draws information from multiple sources to support claims, noting evidentiary limitations.
  • D4.8.9-12.  Apply a range of deliberative and democratic strategies and procedures to make decisions and take action in their classrooms, schools, and out-of-school civic contexts.


Focused Inquiry

Staging the Question

Compelling Question:
Should the Spokane people be further compensated for their losses related to the Grand Coulee Dam?

Visual Analysis
  • 8 groups of 4 - each get a different visual (make copies as large as possible), analyze their response to the following question based on the visual, and prepare to share out their response.
  • What can we learn about the Grand Coulee Dam, the people affected by it, and the organization that oversees it?
  • Groups share learning and each student notes on note-tracker.
Formative Performance Task

Supporting Question:
What is the background and recommendation of Senate Bill 995?

Deep Read with text annotations
  • Circle and note importance of sections that help answer the supporting question
  • Underline challenging terms that are important for understanding the document and note on the side student’s best understanding of meaning
  • Indicate challenges with a question mark and jot a question, a best guess, or an explanation of why it presents a reading/comprehension challenge
(students should have an opportunity to discuss their annotations in small groups and as a whole class to clarify and help each other fix-up understandings)

Taking Informed Action

Should the Spokane people be further compensated for their losses related to the Grand Coulee Dam?

Construct a claim that address the compelling question using evidence from the visuals and Senate Report.
The Spokane People and the Grand Coulee Dam Lesson Plan with Activity Sheet.pdf
Visual Analysis Text Set.pdf
Visual Analysis & Deep Read Note Tracker Activity Sheet.pdf