Starting a unit or lesson with the key terms aids in overall comprehension and retention. In this activity, students will create a storyboard that defines and illustrates key terms related to the Transcontinental Railroad. It is helpful for students to preview vocabulary and important terms when studying history to help give them context.
ballast: Gravel or rocks used to hold ties in place and to provide good drainage.
continent: One of the earth's seven major areas of land. The continents are: Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America.
couple: To hook two train cars together.
end o track: The railhead, or end of the tracks.
engineer: A driver of a train. Also, a person who designs and directs construction of a railroad.
fishplate: A flat piece of metal used to connect two rails end-to-end.
flatcar: A railroad car without any sides.
gandy dancer: A man who aligns the rails; also called a track liner.
gang: a crew of railroad workers.
gorges: Narrow spaces between rocky cliffs
grade: Ground that has been leveled and smoothed for a railroad
graders: Workers who level out roadways or other surfaces
granite: A hard stone that is created as a result of volcanic activity
hogger: The engineer, or driver of a train; also called a hoagie, or hoghead.
immigrants: People who settle permanently in a country where they were not born.
iron car: A flat car pulled over rails by men or animals, used to carry iron rails, tools, and supplies
Iron Horse: The Native Americans' name for a locomotive.
ironmen: The men who lay the rails onto the ties.
locomotive: An engine that pulls or pushes railroad cars that is powered by either steam, electricity or diesel fuel.
maul: A hammer for driving spikes.
pioneer: A person who aligns the ties.
rail: An iron bar forming a train track.
roadbed: The ground upon which the rails, ties and ballast rest.
settlers: People who make their homes in a new area.
siding: A set of tracks running alongside the main tracks.
spike: A large nail for securing the rails to the ties.
surveyor: A person who measures the land to determine the route for the railroad by measuring angles and distances with special instruments.
tamper: A person who packs down the ballast
telegraph: An instrument that uses electrical signals, in the form of coded signals, to quickly communicate over large distances.
territories: Regions that are claimed by and are run by a country.
thrusting bolt: A pin used to secure a fishplate to a rail.
ties: Pieces of wood that support the rail to which the rails are fastened.
(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)
Objective: Create a spider map that defines and illustrates key vocabulary and terms related to the Transcontinental Railroad.
Requirements: Must have 3 terms, correct definitions or descriptions, and appropriate illustrations for each that demonstrate your understanding of the words.
Grade Level 6-8
Difficulty Level 2 (Reinforcing / Developing)
Type of Assignment Individual
Type of Activity: Visual Vocabulary BoardsCommon Core Standards
(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)
| Proficient |
| Emerging |
| Beginning |
The vocabulary words are correctly defined.
The meaning of the vocabulary words can be understood but it is somewhat unclear.
The vocabulary word is not clearly defined
The storyboard illustrations clearly depict the meaning of the vocabulary words.
The illustrations relate to the meaning of the vocabulary words but it they are difficult to understand.
The illustrations do not clearly relate to the meaning of the vocabulary words.
Evidence of Effort
Work is well written and carefully thought out.
Work shows some evidence of effort.
Work shows little evidence of any effort.