Washington 1889: Before visiting the exhibit


Washington 1889: Before visiting the exhibit


Legacy Washington, Office of the Secretary of State




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Grade Levels


Washington 1889: Blazes, Rails and the Year of Statehood is a public exhibit. A year of big dreams, big burns and big politics,1889 captured a place in our history as a time of great prosperity and adversity. The face of Washington changed. Pioneers arrived and townsfolk rebuilt from the rubble. Finally, on November 11, 1889, Washington rose as the 42nd state in the union.

Washington 1889 includes middle school curriculum with accommodations and adjustments available to upper elementary and high school.

The lesson plans follow the inquiry arc as outlined in the College, Career, Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards and are common core aligned (Washington State standards) to challenge students in essential reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. These plans are poised to engage students before, during, and after viewing the Washington 1889 exhibit (either in person or online).

Lesson Objectives

  • EQ: What are the events that led to Washington becoming a state?
  • EQ: What are the student expectations for viewing the exhibit?
At the end of this lesson students will…
  • Develop an inquiry question that will guide their learning at the exhibit.
  • Complete a timeline of events that led to Washington Statehood (as a preview of the exhibit).
  • Have clear understanding of behavioral expectations for them while visiting the exhibit.


  • Textbook- Chapters on Statehood (if applicable)
  • Statehood Timeline- Secretary of State
  • Seattle Post-Intelligencer article- Washington A State
  • Western Union Telegram
  • Inquiry Question Design Worksheet


Common Core Reading
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.2.  Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.5.  Describe how a text presents information (e.g., sequentially, comparatively, causally).
Common Core Writing
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.7.  Conduct short research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question), drawing on several sources and generating additional related, focused questions that allow for multiple avenues of exploration.
State Social Studies Standards
  • History: Understands and analyzes the causal factors that have shaped major events in history.


Prior to the lesson, have the students read chapter in text
  • Take notes answering the essential question “ What are the events that led to Washington becoming a state?”
Do Now
  • Have students use their notes to fill out the timeline from the Secretary of State
  • Have students discuss the events and prioritize each historical significance.
  • Have students read the Seattle PI article from November 12, 1889 and discuss how Washington became a state
  • Have students analyze the telegram from November 11, 1889
  • Have students complete the inquiry question design worksheet (the inquiry question design worksheet can be done in partners)
  • Students should begin with summarizing the information that they already have about WA statehood
    • This information can come from the text, timeline, etc.
  • Students can make an initial question
    • They should then review what they already know to come up with questions that they still want to know about. This can become their first attempt at a inquiry question
  • Have students share their questions with another student (or group of students)
    • Have the student groups check each other’s questions for:
      • Is it open-ended? (not “yes/no”)
      • Do they already know the answer?
      • Is there a better way to ask the question?
      • Is information in the display likely to relate and help answer it?
  • After the questions have gone through a check, students can finalize their question
    • Final question should be broad enough to require analysis of various parts of the exhibit to develop a thorough answer.
  • Teachers may want to review the exhibit to help guide the students
    • Some possible questions that students could come up with
      • In what ways was 1889 a unique year in WA?
      • What groups of people were the biggest winners and what groups lost out in 1889?
      • How was the experience of people of different national origin different from one another in 1889?
      • How did the experience of men and women differ from one another in 1889?
      • How did early conflict impact Washington Statehood?
Washington 1889: Before visiting the exhibit
The State We’re In: Washington. Your guide to state, tribal & local government