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Read Kansas! Middle School - M-37 Big Dam Foolishness

In 1938 the U.S. Congress proposed the building of Tuttle Creek Reservoir near Manhattan.  Building the dam and reservoir would disrupt the lives of citizens in 10 Kansas communities, completely destroying five of these, and inundating more than 50,000 acres of prime farm land.  Without the protection of the dam, the potential damage during a flood to cities and towns downstream could amount to millions of acres of flooded crop land, transportation facilities paralyzed, and businesses destroyed.  In this "fence sitting" activity, students representing Blue Valley residents or the U.S. Corps of Engineers and merchants downstream will use primary sources including videos to persuade classmates who are the politicians to take a stand.  The lesson is written for three class periods. Select each image to see a PDF with the front and back of each card.

M-37 Flood Control for the Missouri River Basin M-37 The Flood of 1951
M-37 Heritage of the Blue River Valley M-37 Blue River Valley Residents Defend their Land
M-37 Blue Valley Belles Campaign Against the Dam M-37 Protecting the Larger Cities
M-37 Merchants Speak in Favor of the Dam M-37 Blue River Valley Residents Take the Fight to the Voters
M-37 Letter Writing Campaign M-37 Kansas Legislators Take Action to Stop Tuttle Creek Dam
M-37 Results of Tuttle Creek Dam and Reservoir  

Lesson Plan

Kansas History, Government and Social Studies Standards:

Standard #5: Relationships among people, places, ideas, and environments are dynamic.

  • 5.3: The student will investigate the relationship among people, places, ideas, and/or the environment and connect those relationships to contemporary issues.

Kansas College and Career Ready Standards:

  • RH.6-8.2:  The student will 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.
  • SL.7.1(a-d): The student will engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 7 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
  • Sl.7.4:  The student will present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with pertinent descriptions, facts, details, and examples; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.
  • WHST. 6-8.1 (a-e) The student will write arguments focused on discipline-specific content.