Corps of Discovery-Lewis and Clark

Lesson Plan


Grade Level

Middle School

Author Info

Marsha Klosterman
Siuslaw Middle School
Florence, OR

Type of Lesson

Document Analysis


2 class periods

Interdisciplinary Connections

Reading content for information




Students will read Jefferson’s letter to Congress and his letter of instructions to Meriwether Lewis.¬† By skimming for information and answering questions about their reading, they will gain an understanding of events surrounding the planning of the expedition.¬†They will better understand Jefferson’s forward thinking.

Prior Knowledge

Students should understand the historic background of the Louisiana Territory to understand why the United States wanted to control it.

State Standards

Oregon State Standards:

SS.08.06.02 Trace the route and understand the significance of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

SS.08.SA.01 Clarify key aspects of an event, issue, or problem through inquiry and research.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes

Students will understand Jefferson’s method of funding the Corps of Discovery

Students will understand the goals Jefferson had for Lewis and Clark to accomplish. They will also understand how he was looking forward into the future of the U.S.

Students will discover what it takes to outfit such an expedition.

Technology Connections/outcomes

The lesson can connect to geography, native studies, some math, and reading for understanding and writing.

Additional Learning Outcomes

Students will answer questons about materials.

Essential Questions

1. How much did Jefferson request from Congress to fund the expedition? How much did the expedtition end up costing?

2. Name at least 3 goals of the expedition. Which one do you think was the most important?

3. How do these goals relate to “The Modern Man” and being a forward thinking person who was ahead of his time?

4. How should Lewis pay for things when his money and trading goods ran out?

5. How was Lewis prepared for this journey? What kind of training did he receive?

6. What were the gifts Lewis and Clark were to take to give to the Indians they met?


  1. 1 period
    1. Go to Monticello website to find articles. Students can work in pairs or by themselves according to skill level. Students will skim and scan the three articles.
  2. Same period-homework
    2. Students will answer question about what they read. Questions should be in written form, and then used for discussion about the expedition and the details it took to make it happen.


Materials Needed

Two articles from the Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia:

See also:Lewis and Clark resources (upper elementary reading level) and Jefferson’s West (adult reading level) on the monticello website.

Technology Needs

Computers with internet access.



Depending on classroom time and availability of internet, questions can be researched and answered at home.


Students will be graded on the understanding demonstrated in their answers to the questions. Students will be graded on supporting ideas and demonstrating thoughtful answers.


Accommodations – Students with Special Needs

Students with special academic needs can be paired with other students or given only the more literal questions to answer.

Accommodations – Advanced Learners

TAG students would be expected to show a deeper understanding ingiving theiranswers.