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Captains, Carnegie, and Choice: exploring complex issues in history through UDL-aligned methods

In our newest post, Huntingtown High teacher Jaime Pieretti shares how he uses multiple means of action and expression to engage students in rigorous thinking.

Jaime explains that “as part of our exploration of the Gilded Age, students are asked to answer the question whether Industrialists like Carnegie and Rockefeller should be considered Captains of Industry or Robber Barons.

“To allow students to explore the ideas, they are given a choice of 4 different assignments, each of which addresses the question in a slightly different way.

“The assignments are differentiated by assignment complexity and modality. They range from a simple analysis of a reading on the topic, to videos, to a DBQ, to, finally, a web quest. No matter which assignment students choose to complete, and they are encouraged to challenge themselves, they all arrive at the same place, which is answering the question with a claim, evidence, and reasoning.”

Here are the various tasks available for students:

Captain of Industry or Robber Baron?

Examine each of the documents. Use the information to complete the Analysis Chart

Document A

Do not make riches, but usefulness, your first aim; and let your chief pride be that your daily occupation is in the line of progress and development; that your work, in whatever capacity it may be, is useful work, honestly conducted, and as such ennobling to your life. * How to succeed in Life by Andrew Carnegie

1. According to Carnegie, what is more important than focusing on money?

2. How might a factory worker have a different opinion of money than Carnegie?

Document B

The Bosses of the Senate political cartoon 1889

1. Who are the ‘bosses’ of the Senate?

2. What is the artist saying about the relationship between big businesses and government?

Captain of Industry or Robber Baron?

Watch the Edpuzzle: ‘The Men Who made America’ and ‘Introduction to Robber Barons’. Use the information from the video to complete the graphic organizer.

Individual Reasons why he was a Captain of Industry Reasons why he was a Robber Baron

Robber Baron or Captain of Industry?

Learning Target: I can evaluate whether each Industrialist was a Captain of Industry or a Robber Baron.

Use the research links below to complete the chart, evaluating whether businessmen of the Gilded Age should be considered Robber Barons or Captains of Industry.

Resources that might help you


* Meet Andrew Carnegie: The Two Andrews

* Meet Amazing Americans: Andrew Carnegie

* The Richest Man in the World: Andrew Carnegie

* Letters about the Homestead Strike

* Information about the Carnegie Mansion

* Carnegie Biography

* How to Succeed in Life by Andrew Carnegie

* Andrew Carnegie Preaches the Gospel of Wealth

* The Gospel of Wealth

* Personal Recollections of Andrew Carnegie


* The Rockefellers

* John D. Rockefeller

* A Fastidious Life

* John D. Rockefeller

* John /d, Rockefeller and the /standard Oil /company


* Rockefeller and Standard Oil... Rags to riches...

* John D. Rockefeller - A Short Biography (Video)

* “John D. Rockefeller: A Character Study” by Ida /tarbell

* The Dismantling of the Standard Oil Trust


* The House of Vanderbilt

* Cartoon, "The Great Race for the Western Stakes"

* Business Biography of Cornelius Vanderbilt

* Vanderbilt Mansion Historical Site

* Cornelius Vanderbilt

* Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt fought war over route through Central America

* Cornelius Vanderbilt

* Tales of the Commodore

* Cornelius Vanderbilt

* Why We Should Be Lucky Bill Gates and Warren Buffet Don't Take After Cornelius Vanderbilt


* JP Morgan The most influential banker in history

* J.P. Morgan (Brief Biography}

* Now It Is Told,9171,745650-1,00.html

* Capital and Labor

* First Public Demonstration of Edison's Light Bulb

* The Morgan Bonds

* John Pierpont Morgan Quotes

* The House of Morgan

* John Pierpont Morgan and the American Corporation

* John Pierpont Morgan

Captain of Industry or Robber Barons?

Use the ‘America’s Gilded Age’ (Source: to answer the questions. Use the information from the questions and the article to help you complete the chart.

America’s Gilde Age:

1. Why did Mark Twain refer 1870-1900 as the ‘Gilded Age’?

2. Fill out the chart

4. Read about each Industrialist. Use the information plus your answers to 1-3 to decide if they are captains of industry or robber barons.

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