Mississippi History Now Mississippi Historical SocietySite ToolsSponsorsEditorial Advisory Staff
Back Home Lesson Plan

Making the Mississippi Over Again: The Development of River Control in Mississippi lesson plan

OVERVIEW

The Mississippi River is a tremendous force. Environmental conditions such as spring rain can cause the river to swell beyond its banks. This naturally occurring event pits people against nature. The struggle to control the environment as a means of survival is an age-old struggle that continues today. The Mississippi River is essential to the people who live along its banks as well as the nation as a whole. Techniques to control the river and supervision of the processes have changed over time.

CURRICULAR CONNECTIONS

Mississippi Studies Framework: Competencies 1, 3 and 4.

TEACHING LEVELS

Grades 7 through 12

MATERIALS AND EQUIPMENT

Mississippi History Now article, "Making the Mississippi Over Again: The Development of River Control in Mississippi"

Overhead projector and pen (optional)

Chalkboard and chalk (optional)

Paper

Pen or pencil

Mississippi History on Loan video "The River" (MS5).

Hallmark movie, "Old Man" (optional)

Oral histories (optional)

Discovering Mississippi textbook as well as various Mississippi Studies textbooks

Discovering Mississippi resource binder (optional)

Various reference books

Computer and internet access (optional for reference and completed newscast scripts)

Art supplies for newscast props

OBJECTIVES

Students will:

identify the Mississippi towns, cities, regions and counties along the Mississippi River.

describe efforts made to control flooding along the Mississippi River.

explain the social and economic impact the Mississippi River has on local communities and the state.

determine how floods can affect a community politically, economically, and socially.

OPENING THE LESSON

The teacher will ask for student responses to the following questions:

a.

Why are rivers important to adjacent areas?

b.

Are there any dangers to living near rivers?

c.

How do federal, state, and local governments try to prevent flooding?

d.

How can flooding affect people who don’t live near the flood regions?

e.

Why should you (each student) be concerned about the flooding of the Mississippi River?

The teacher will tell students that they will explore the answers to these questions in further detail over the next several days. The teacher will explain to the students that the Mississippi River is important to the economy of the state as well as the nation. The teacher will tell students that they will study the attempts to control the river through a variety of activities over the next several days.

DEVELOPING THE LESSON

1.

Students will read the Mississippi History Now article and complete the following cause-and-effect statements:

a.

The Mississippi Delta is perfect for agriculture because _____.

b.

River meandering can cause problems for landowners because _____.

c.

River control has made shipping safer and faster because _____.

d.

Before the Civil War, there were no engineering standards for flood control because _____.

e.

In the 19th century, the Mississippi Legislature authorized creation of levee districts because _____.

f.

The Board of Levee Commissioners was formed in 1865 because _____.

g.

The U.S. Congress passed the 1928 Flood Control Act because _____.

h.

Cotton became Mississippi’s major crop after the Civil War because _____.

i.

The boll weevil not only affected cotton production in the state, but also fish and marine life because _____.

j.

The Delta soils must be given large quantities of chemical fertilizers because _____.

2.

The students can be instructed to work alone or with partners on the cause-and-effect activity. After completion of this activity, the teacher will ask for volunteers to share their answers with the class in order to check for accuracy.

3.

The students should be divided into groups of three for a paragraph writing activity. Assign each group in the classroom a grouping of words listed below. Each word group can be numbered and displayed on an overhead projector, listed on the chalkboard, or printed on a sheet of paper. Each group will receive a different word group. If the class size is rather large, instead of enlarging the groups, it is suggested that the word groups be assigned to more than one group. Instruct the groups to write one paragraph about the Mississippi River that is structured correctly and grammatically correct. Their paragraphs must show the relationship between the words in the group.

a.

plantation

flooding

levee

b.

Board of Levee Commissioners

cotton

Mississippi River

c.

1928 Flood Control Act

flood of 1927

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

d.

infrastructure

levees

cotton

e.

boll weevil

insecticides

Mississippi River

4.

Allow the groups to share their paragraphs with the class.

5.

Order the 32-minute video, "The River," from Mississippi History On Loan, a service offered by the Museum Division, Mississippi Department of Archives and History. "The River" was produced by Farm Security Administration in 1937. Videos listed in its catalog are available free of charge to Mississippi public schools and to eligible private schools. Complete the required form (if you do not have one, call 601-961-4724 and ask the audiovisual coordinator to mail one to you). Mail the completed form to: Mississippi History On Loan, Manship House Museum, 420 East Fortification Street, Jackson, MS 39202-2340. Orders will be shipped and must be returned by first class U.S. Postal Service. Borrowers are responsible for return shipping costs.

6.

The teacher can also show scenes from the movie, "Old Man." This movie is based on William Faulkner’s short story, “Old Man,” which is about the 1927 flood. This Hallmark movie is rated PG and runs 98 minutes. It can be purchased for $14.98, plus shipping and handling, at amazon.com.

7.

After viewing teacher-selected excerpts from the movie, the teacher will ask students to speculate on how floods impact the lives of various individuals. Student responses can be listed on the overhead or chalkboard.

8.

Or use oral histories about the flood of 1927. The resource binder for the textbook Discovering Mississippi, published by Walthall Publishing Company, contains oral histories from the flood of 1927. Oral histories can also be obtained from the University of Southern Mississippi’s Oral History Center. There are also various Web sites that contain interviews with survivors of more recent floods along the Mississippi River, such as the 1993 flood.

9.

Allow students to work in groups where they will portray television crews. The students are to imagine that the Mississippi River is cresting and about to flood. Have the group consider what types of questions various people may have about this situation. Have the group consider who might be able to answer those questions. The people who can answer the questions and address the concerns of the community will be the characters needed in the broadcast.

Example: What types of concerns might a farmer, an elderly person near the river, and a boat or barge captain have? Could a meteorologist, water resource scientist, survivors or government officials answer the questions and address the concerns?

Explain to the students that they must create a map of the Mississippi River which includes the cities, towns and regions along the banks. They will need to refer to the map in their broadcast.

Students can be required to include the reasons for the flood in their newscast as well as explain what will happen in the actual flood. They can also give advice on how to prepare for the flood in their newscast. Encourage the students to use props in their presentation to the class (There are numerous Web sites with reference information for students that could be beneficial to them in preparing their newscast).

CONCLUDING THE LESSON

Allow the groups to present their newscast to the class.

ASSESSING STUDENT LEARNING

1.

Cause-and-effect statements

2.

Group paragraphs

3.

Class/group participation

4.

Newscasts

EXTENDING THE LESSON

1.

Invite a guest speaker from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to speak to class.

2.

Take a field trip to local reservoirs and dams where local personnel can explain the importance these locations have in controlling flooding.

3.

Have students create a model which shows the use of levees along a river bank. The students can use the model to create a flood and explain what causes this natural disaster.

4.

Allow the students to create a game about the Mississippi River. The game board could be a picture of the river. Also, spaces on the board game could be towns and cities along the Mississippi River. The students could create questions to be answered in the game based upon the Mississippi History Now article as well as historical information about the river and towns along its banks.

Back Home Back to Top Return to Feature

Mississippi Historical Society © 2000–2017. All rights reserved.