Resource 1: Florida 500 Years After Ponce De Leon

Florida 500 years after Ponce DeLeon: The Prices and Profits of Progress


This post contains materials from the program, which was aimed primarily at history teachers at all grade levels and featured lessons, activities, and resources to address Common Core Standards.

February 19 Session 1: Dr. John Belohlavek “What we can Learn on Florida’s 500th”

February 26 Session 2: Dr. Gary Mormino,  author of  “Florida Land Of Sunshine, State of Dreams”  discusses his book.  The first 30 teachers to sign up and attend all sessions will receive a copy of the book

March 5: Session 3: Dr Deborah Kozdras demonstrates a common core lesson on Florida citrus and James Welsh of the Florida Center for Instructional Technology (FCIT) previews a wealth of on-line resources

Here is a resource list for lessons:


What was the role of beef in the development of the Florida economy?

1) Begin with John Belohlavek’s piece from the Tampa Bay Times: What Can We Learn on Florida’s 500th?

2) Find an interesting tidbit that ties into an economic concept, preferably something that links to another text. For example, we glanced through the cited books and noticed a recommendation for Patrick Smith’s A Land Remembered and make the link to the cattle industry. We looked up Patrick Smith’s website and noticed that it is possible todownload the first two chapters of his book for free at this link .

3) Ask students to refer to What Can We Learn on Florida’s 500th? and search for evidence that the beef industry was important in Florida’s history.Here is a printable version. Conduct a close reading with students, having them focus on this paragraph:

“Florida is an invaluable lens for America’s story. When we learn Florida’s legacies, we are educating ourselves about the United States. Our national themes — migration, bondage and freedom, disunion and reconstruction, progress — are clarified when seen through the Florida experience. What more meaningful way to learn the central cause of the Civil War than reading historian Larry Rivers’ sobering Slavery in Florida? How better to understand a quintessential American family story than to read writer Patrick Smith’s A Land Remembered, a novel of Florida from early cattle ranching to the tumultuous 1960s?”

Ask students how evidence in this paragraph could imply that cattle ranching was important in early Florida.

4) Ask students to read pages 13-15 from A Land Remembered and find some evidence that Tobias thought cattle ranching was important.

5) Augment that text with some informational texts and primary source documents:

Florida’s Land Boom: A text written at the late elementary grade level.

Cattle and Cowboys in Florida: A text that contains an excerpt written by Frederic Remington entitledThe Cracker Cowboys of Florida. This piece is also useful for students to read if they are unsure of the original meaning of “Cracker Cowboys.”

Students can watch the PBS Special on the History of the Florida Cattle Industry.

Florida Memory: Florida Cattle Ranching: On this site, your students can access a text about the history of Florida cattle ranching, along with a variety of primary source photos. Provide students with hints for how to “read” primary source photos by using the Library of Congress Primary Source Analysis Tools. In particular, the guide below provides questions to ask for images and photographs. 

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Remind students that their reason for reading & viewing is to find evidence of the importance of cattle ranching as an industry in Florida. Have students record their findings on a graphic organizer like the one below. Students list the source, name the type (photo, comic, op-ed piece, book, etc.), list their evidence about the cattle industry as based on the evidence they found. They discuss their findings in small groups or with the class. They will use this evidence later in their writing.

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6)After they find their evidence, students make inferences that relate to answering the big essential question of the importance of beef for the development of the Florida economy.

7) Students answer the question in writing. Use anessay organizing tool like the one on ReadWriteThink, which provides students with a map like the one below.

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