Education:Top of the World: The purpose of skyscrapers and buildings that have defined our cities


Grade 9 and/or 10/U.S. History I and/or II (Year range of 1850 to 1950).

Time Required for completed lesson

2 Days/Blocks (1.5 for research and gallery construction & .5 for gallery peer review).


6.1.12.B.5.b- Assess the impact of rapid urbanization on the environment and on the quality of life in cities.

6.1.12.D.5.a- Analyze government policies and other factors that promoted innovation, entrepreneurship, and industrialization in New Jersey and the United States during this period.

6.1.12.D.5.d- Relate varying immigrants’ experiences to gender, race, ethnicity, or occupation.

Common Core State Standards

RH.9-10.2.- Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.

RH.9-10.6.- Compare the point of view of two or more authors for how they treat the same or similar topics, including which details they include and emphasize in their respective accounts.

Materials Required

Project description sheet (which includes directions and focus questions to answer), computers, PC’s, netbooks, resources listed below, teacher wiki space page, wiki space page tip sheet and Microsoft office.

Anticipatory Set

Prior to the start of this lesson, the students will have had:

  1. Completed unit activities and assessments related to old and new immigrants and the development of urban settings.
  2. A thorough analysis of “push/pull factors” associated with the reasons for immigration and urbanization.
  3. Completed initial activities related with the industrial revolution and identified the “captains of industry.”
  4. A familiarity with using wiki spaces in order to create/contribute to a teacher sponsored web site.


  1. The students will first answer a “do now” question, “what are the social, economic and political benefits to urbanizations?”
  2. The instructor will then discuss student interpretations and answers to this question.
  3. The instructor will begin a brief discussion with a set of discussion questions that analyze the importance and reasons for the advancement of technology and building skyscrapers during this time period.
  4. The instructor will then start a power point presentation titled “Critical Infrastructure of the early 1900’s. The students will identify and analyze various forms of critical infrastructure, which helped shape our urban centers and created a gradual economic boom for our economy.
  5. The instructor will then assign various skyscraper/buildings (infrastructure) from the appropriate time period and will have the students complete a web quest, which will explain all necessary demographics of the building/s.
    1. A focus of this activity will involve immigrant groups involved in the planning, construction and usage.
    2. Geographical reasons for placement of that particular building.
    3. Economic opportunity it provided our country and citizens.
  6. The students will answer a worksheet containing a set of focus questions regarding the skyscraper, which should uncover the above information and other notable information, such as:
    1. Location, date built, lead builder, reason for building and present day use.
  7. The students will use the web quest questions to create a wiki space page, which will include the skyscraper title, answer to all focus questions and visual representations of the skyscraper.
    1. Essentially, the students will be creating their own fact sheets of the respective piece of infrastructure and their analysis will be shared and easily accessed by other students.
    2. The instructor will hand out a wiki space “tip sheet” in order for students to understand web page construction.


Formative- The instructor will assess the students during their “do now” discussion and their independent work of answering the web quest focus questions and construction of the wiki space.

Summative- The instructor will assess the student’s performance on their wiki space page using a performance rubric that evaluates and measures the following criteria:

  • Information, Visuals and Construction


This activity satisfies the school’s vision and departmental goals of 21st century skills, differentiated learning (lesson accommodating various learners) and technology-based learning. The creation of class wiki space page enables students to creatively construct a visual representation of a key curricular concept and allows for peers to review and analyze at any time.


Depending on the class and various learning styles, this project has been modified to meet the needs of the various learners. This project includes instructional methods, such as direct instruction, technology-based and project-based learning, which addresses all learning styles.


At the end of the lesson, the students will have to submit a self-reflection piece to the instructor. The self- reflection will ask the students two questions:

  • How do modern day skyscrapers compare social, politically and economically to original pieces of infrastructure developed in the early to mid-1900’s?
  • Do you feel using a wiki-space page is beneficial in producing assignments for this class?

The students will also be required to complete at least two peer evaluations.


Submitted by:

Jared Warren

Special Education/History Teacher

Hunterdon Central Regional High School