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Lesson 1: Introduction to the Pemberton Mill Disaster

Created by UMass Lowell graduate student/Methuen High School social studies teacher Stephanie Turmel under the supervision of UMass Distinguished Professor of History Robert Forrant and Lawrence History Center staff (2019).

Unit Plan #2 : Remembering the Pemberton Mill Tragedy

Lesson 1: Introduction to the Pemberton Mill Disaster Lesson Summary: Students will be introduced to the Pemberton Mill Disaster by watching a short documentary film called ‘The Path’. The film also takes students on an interactive tour of Lawrence. Learning Objective(s): Students will understand the cause and effects of the Pemberton Mill Disaster Lesson Overview:

  1. Opener: To assess what students already know about The Pemberton Mill Tragedy, students will complete a K-W Chart. Students will then watch ‘The Path’, a documentary movie about the Pemberton Mill and complete a guided worksheet. 
    The movie can be watched in two ways:

    1. Watch The Path movie in six mini segments While watching the movie students will complete “The Path” Video Guide (Resource #1) 
    2. Watch the full movie While watching the movie students will complete S-I-T: Surprising, Interesting, Troubling (Resource #2)

    Teacher Note: Background on movie - ‘The Path’ is an award-winning interactive documentary about Lawrence MA that uses sleek signs and online videos to tell the tale of two sisters caught in the largest industrial disaster in Massachusetts history. 

  2. Summative Assessment: At the end of Student Resource #1 you will find a writing prompt that can be used a summative assessment, homework , or an in class activity.
    • Writing Prompt: Students will imagine they lived in the boarding house and saw the Pemberton Mill collapse. They will write a short letter home to their family about the disaster and how it impacted them.

Extension Activities: Students will take a field trip and “walk” the path outlined in documentary. Students can use Google Satellite to explore the area and go on a virtual field trip of the area.