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Lesson Plans
The House at 97 Orchard Street
OverviewProcedure for teachersStudent Resources and Materials
Prep for Teachers

Prior to teaching this lesson, bookmark the Web sites used in the lesson on each computer in your classroom. Download the Realplayer media player (available free at onto each computer as well.
You will need to make the appropriate number of copies of each of the activity sheets for your class. The individual apartment sheets are intended to guide the investigation of each small group studying them. They will use this information to create a final informational presentation to the class about each family.

CUE the videotape for the learning activity to the start segment at the first picture of people on a boat with the narrator stating …"My great-great grandfather was the first…"

It is advisable to bookmark all of the Internet sites used for this lesson on each computer the students will be using. An alternative to this process is to show the class how to get to an active link you have setup to take them to the sites. You will also want to take an advance tour of the activity sites to familiarize yourself with how they work and where information may be found.

When using media, always provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, a specific task to complete and/or information to identify during or after the viewing of video segments, Web sites, and/or other multimedia elements.

Introductory Activities: Setting the Stage

Step 1

Ask your students if they have ever gone on a treasure hunt. Let them know that they are going to go on one today - to find the treasure in a tenement. You might need to explain that tenements were the first multifamily housing building available to most of the immigrants coming into New York City. When people have lived in an area they will always leave some trace of themselves behind. The type building that most of the immigrants coming into New York moved into was called a tenement. It was sort of like today's apartment buildings. When people move anywhere they try to make it home for their family with things they value and have brought with them. What you find in the tombs of the Pharoahs of Egypt tells you something about how they lived. We are going to look at what is left from one of the original tenement "apartment" buildings in New York. What we find there may tell us something about the people who lived there. The class will be looking in the ruins of 97 Orchard Street to find "treasure" left by the people who lived there.

Step 2

Divide your class into activity groups. There should probably be 4 or 5 students in a group. Distribute the "Digging Up The Past" activity sheets and data tables for the activity. Ask the students to go to the Thirteen/WNET Tenement Museum Wallpaper and Floorboard Activity Page at Provide them with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking why they think the wooden floorboard diagram on the front of this activity packet is an exact copy of the floorboards on the computer screen. (Each floorboard is numbered to make it easier to fill out their data table. They will find a different object behind each floorboard.)

Step 3

Provide them with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking to list what types of items they think they might find at an old building destruction site? Allow each group a few minutes to come up with a list and then write portions of their lists on the board for future reference. (Answers will vary but will probably include: glass, bottles, cigarette buts and or packages, newspapers, articles of clothing, matches, umbrellas, books, garbage, maybe dead animals. You will need to remind them that the building they are going to search in is like an apartment building today.) Now have them click on board number 1 and sketch what the see on the computer screen on their data chart. Have them read the description of the item given on the computer. You will need to show them that they can increase the size of the object and get a description by clicking on the object. Check the list they had originally made to see if this is on their list. You might want to go through the questions written on the data chart for this item with also. All of the answers to the questions are provided on the Teacher copy of this handout.

Step 4

Allow the students to work through the remainder of the site as small groups, discussing their ideas about how these items might have gotten there in the first place. They should look at this as a detective story, using the items they find to tell something about the people who must have lived or frequented this old building.

Step 5

When the groups have completed their surveys of the floorboards, you may wish to have them pair/share their answers to the questions to try to derive some sort of consensus as to what can be learned from the items. Please remind the students that they need to remember to be realistic about what any one item can tell them about the person who left it.

Learning Activities

Insert tape: New York: A Documentary Film, Episode 2 "Order & Disorder" into your VCR.

Step 1

CUE to the first picture of people on a boat with the narrator stating …"My great-great grandfather was the first…" Provide the class with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking: What is the difficulty faced by New York as a society? PLAY the tape through the bridge over the river at night with the narrator stating "New York is the great experiment. There are one people piling on top of another constantly." PAUSE the tape at this point for class discussion to check for student comprehension of the answer. What was the difficulty faced by New York as a society? ( Bringing different people/cultures together to form a peaceful unit.)

Step 2

Provide the class with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking: How many people lived on Manhattan in 1825? START the tape and play through the picture of the people on a rooftop balcony overlooking a river full of steamboats. STOP the tape and check for student comprehension. They should realize that there were not very many people on Manhattan at all compared to today. (There were less than 170,000 people.)

Step 3

Provide the class with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERATION by asking: What was found 2 miles from where the Dutch had originally settled in the 1600's? START the tape and play through the map of old Manhattan with the Stuyvesant farm showing as the narrator says, "the old pear tree Peter Stuyvesant had planted on the outskirts of town." STOP the tape and discuss what the island of Manhattan was and has become. (It was farms and country lanes, New York was what we would consider a rural community in those days!)

Step 4

Provide the class with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking: What was life like then in Manhattan? START the tape and play through the scene of the horse hooves on the cobble stones with the narrator saying,"…the poorly paved streets which after sundown were nearly deserted." PAUSE the tape to discuss the class perception of life at this time. (Very simple, there were no regular police, no professional fire department, no public transport, only a handful of public schools, and only the most primitive water and sewage systems.) Most of their concepts of what places looked like in the 1800s and early 1900s come from the movies. They probably do not pay a great deal of attention to the details mentioned in this clip. You may wish to allow them to quickly sketch a picture of what any part of the town or daily life looked like.

Step 5

Provide the class with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking: How many people lived in New York City by 1900? START the tape and play through the brown tone street scene with the narrator stating, "No city in America had ever grown so rapidly or so large." STOP the tape to allow the students to do the math calculation of how many people lived in Manhattan by 1900 (50 times as many as in 1825, allow students to do the math to get 8,750,000). You may also want to discuss with the class at this point what happens to an area when a very large increase of some sort takes place. A good example might be what happens if a large company moves into an area. There are going to be a much larger number of families in the area as the company employees move in. What effect is that going to have on traffic, shopping, schools, etc.? Explain that this is what happened to New York, with one very different twist - the people. Instead of one culture and background, the city of New York went through several periods of immigration from many different countries and cultures leading us to develop a uniquely cosmopolitan urban setting.

Step 6

FAST FORWARD the tape (while they are calculating) to the drawing of lower Manhattan which appears after historian Mike Wallace. The first words heard on the tape should be - "By 1830 people were pouring into Manhattan…" Provide the class with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking: Why did the people come to New York City in particular? PLAY the tape through the end of the answer shown above. STOP the tape to check for student comprehension. (People came to New York because it was one of the major port cities, entry into the country, to work in the new factories, offices, and workshops of the city.) You might wish to point put that New York was the major East Coast port for shipping from Europe. This could be compared to which city on the west coast of America? (San Francisco.)

You are now ready to have the students work on the Virtual Tour of the Tenement Museum Activity.

Step 7

At this point you will need to distribute the Virtual Tour of the Tenement Activity Sheet to each member of the class. It is suggested that you use either a large screen TV connected to a computer or a projection device such as a Proxima to introduce the students to the use of the Virtual Tour software as an information gathering tool.

On your computer, please go to the Virtual Tour of 97 Orchard Street at Once the site is on the screen be sure to point out the informational section located to the right of the picture of the tenement. This is the main source of information to answer the questions posted as 1-6 in this worksheet. You will need to click on the colored words which are underlined to show a hyperlink. For example, clicking on the words "ticket to prosperity" will cause a Pop-up box to appear. This box has information about why Mr. Glockner built the tenement, what it was worth, and what the average investment in real estate was earning during that time period. Have the students read through, or read the information section to them. Then, ask the class to fill in the answers to questions 1-6. Go over the correct answers with them as shown on the teacher answer key.

Step 8

Now move the cursor to the steps of the tenement pictured, under the figure of the pointing hand. Click on the steps or the hand and you will be taken inside the building to the hallway of the building. Show the class that you can turn around in a circle by moving the cursor onto the picture of the hallway and then moving it toward the left or right side of the picture. Please point out that for most of the picture the cursor will appear as a circled dot on the wall, but wherever there is more information available about something the cursor turns into a finger pointing to a disc. These are called "hot spots." By clicking on a hot spot they can find pop-ups to answer the questions on their worksheets. You may conduct the tour of the hallway/ruin apartment yourself or allow individual students to take turns finding the hotspots in the hallway. (There are two - the painted medallions.)

Step 9

Now point out that they can move around in the ruin apartment by either clicking on a room in the apartment map shown below the tour picture. The room you are in will show the picture of the hand and have the letters in orange-brown print. The other way to move around the apartment is to find the "hotspot" that is located at a doorway or stairs. Clicking on this hotspot will take you through to the next room on the map. Have the class fill in the answers to the ruin apartment questions as you demonstrate how to work through the tour to find the answers. This will probably take the remainder of the class period. Please check their answers by comparing them with the answer key provided in the teacher resource section of this lesson.

Step 10

For the next class, you will need to divide the class into four cooperative learning groups. Each group will need at least one person to run the computer (this job should be rotated), one or two scribes to record the information discovered, one mentor to keep the group on track with the activity, and one reporter to organize the material to presented to the rest of the class) Please distribute the questions for only one apartment to each group. Provide your students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, telling students that they will be looking for the information to answer only their questions during the next activity. At the end of the time you have allotted for this computer quest, each group will report information regarding their family apartment and the immigrant background information they have learned to the class.

Note to Teacher: As the groups finish their investigation you may wish to set up a time and date for group presentations to the rest of the class. These presentations should include the information on the questions sheets as well as their own interpretations of how each family lived and work as immigrants to a new country.

Cross-Curricilar Extensions

Step 1

The apartment groups are to create a short presentation which covers the information found in their group search of the tenement apartment they were assigned. It would help to provide a more concrete image of the material if each group were to create a poster showing pictorially their new found information. The poster could include such elements as a map of the country the family came from. A symbolic picture of the family - how many members there were and how old they were could be included in the poster. What the jobs of the family members were should also be shown.

Step 2

After the group presentations, use the posters from each group to create a map of the tenement building on a classroom wall. Place each family in the appropriate "floor" of the building and complete your discussion of immigration and tenement life in New York with one or more of the Cross-Curricular Extensions or Community Connections.

Cross-Curricilar Extensions

Assign each student to choose a family member from the apartment they examined in this activity. They are to write a journal entry (diary) or letter to someone back in their homeland which tells of a day in the life of that particular individual. It should include information such as when they woke up, what they had to eat and when, any personal cleaning routines, how and where they went to work, any events like a fire, an epidemic like cholera or the flu in the community, a parade, holiday, etc.

Ask each student to find out from their family what country/countries their ancestors came from. Use a large wall map and push pins or sticky flags to mark the locations of the student family roots. Schedule an international day on which each student is responsible to bring something related to the country of their origin. If they have more than one background (most people) they may choose there favorite. Have a travel fair set up in the room to display the objects to the class.

Have the class research the architectural styles of the building shown online for the period between 1825 and 1940. Ask them to draw a building from the time period they have selected.

Ask the class to look at the dress of the people during this time period (1825 - 1940). Ask them to create a set of paper dolls or drawings showing what the people wore at intervals of 10 years : 1825,1835,1845,1855,1865,1875,1885,1895,1905,1915,1925,1935.

Use the internet or library resources to research the cost of various common items in the period from 1824 to today. You might divide this into periods such as: 1825-1865, 1865-1910, 1910-1940, 1940-1980, 1980-today. A list of items might include things such as a pair of shoes, a loaf of bread, a small one family house, cost of some form of transportation, a meal at a restaurant, average family income, etc.

Have the students use computers to create a spreadsheet of the information. Use the spreadsheet program to generate graphs showing a comparison of the prices. Discuss the fluctuations in the economy. What changed the most, what stayed about the same?

Community Connections
  1. Have the class write a set of questions that they think will tell them good information about what it was like to come to America. Each student will be responsible for interviewing either a family member or neighbor with these questions. They will need to realize that most of the people they speak with did not immigrate to America but were born and raised here. The questions may include such information as: Could you please tell me where your family came to America from? About how long ago was that? Why did they want to come to America? Did they have to give up anything to come here? How long did it take for them to get to America? Use the information from the surveys to create a map with small flags stuck on pins from the various source countries. Look at the map of New York the class has created and decide if there are any definite boundaries to where people from any one country live in New York.

  2. Have the students locate any cultural centers located within the immediate school district area. Plot the distribution of cultures shown to see what the dominant cultural influence of the area is. What are the lesser cultures shown? Where they here before the majority of today or are they moving into the area now. Have the class explain how neighborhoods change over time.

  3. Have the students create booths for a "street fair" based on the cultures found in this lesson. Hold the fair as a part of an interdisciplinary celebration of unity in the New York "neighborhood."