Activity Overview

A helpful way for students to organize facts about the Transcontinental Railroad is in a timeline. This timeline highlights a few of the important dates from 1848 with the discovery of gold in California, through the lobbying and construction of the railroad, and goes up until 1882 with the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act. There are many important dates in the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad that students can explore that can highlight a broad range of perspectives! In this activity, students will create a timeline of 5-10 events about the construction of the transcontinental railroad. These timelines can be printed and displayed around the classroom and used as a reference.

For an alternative to the timeline layout, have students create a timeline poster to incorporate into a presentation or gallery walk. You can add more than one template to this assignment to give students lots of options and adjust the instructions accordingly.

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Due Date:

Objective: Create a timeline in chronological order with accurate dates, descriptions and illustrations for 5-10 important events relating to the Transcontinental Railroad.< /p>

Student Instructions:

  1. Click “Start Assignment”.
  2. Choose 5-10 important events related to the Transcontinental Railroad.
  3. In the timeline template, click on “Timeline Dates”, and write the dates of each milestone in the date cells in chronological order. Then click “update timeline”.
  4. For each cell, list a title and write a 1-3 sentence description for each event.
  5. Create an illustration that represents each event using appropriate scenes, characters, and items.

Requirements: 5-10 events listed with correct dates, 1-3 sentence description, and appropriate illustrations.

Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 6-8

Difficulty Level 2 (Reinforcing / Developing)

Type of Assignment Individual

Type of Activity: Timelines

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RH/9-10/3] Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.
  • [ELA-LITERACY/CCRA/R/1] Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
  • [ELA-LITERACY/CCRA/R/7] Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
  • [ELA-LITERACY/CCRA/R/9] Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.
  • [ELA-LITERACY/WHST/6-8/2/B] Develop the topic with relevant, well-chosen facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples.


(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

Historical Timeline
Choose 6 major milestones in the development of understanding in this topic and produce a timeline storyboard showing how ideas have changed and why.
Proficient Emerging Beginning
Event description
All the cells are clearly described with details of the significance of the milestone.
All the cells are clearly described.
Some cells are described.
The storyboard cells clearly illustrate all the 6 chosen historical moments.
The storyboard cells clearly illustrate some of the 6 chosen historical moments.
The storyboard cells does not clearly any of the 6 chosen historical moments.
Evidence of Effort
Work is well written and carefully thought out.
Work shows some evidence of effort.
Work shows little evidence of any effort.

More Storyboard That Activities

Transcontinental Railroad

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