Scoring Guide

Teacher Notes


Intro Page

Contact Information

Biddy Mason - Open Hands, Open Heart

Developed by Gail Desler

"Every women or man, young or old, who thinks they are faced with seemingly insurmountable barriers can take heart and inspiration for the life and courage of Biddy Mason."

Yvonne Braithwaite Burke, Supervisor,County of Los Angeles

Generations of California school children have studied the Westward Movement from a single perspective: European. The vital role played by African-Americans in the building of a state has often gone untold. In this unit you will have the opportunity to research and publish the story of an extraordinary woman - Biddy Mason.

The California Department of Education has listed Biddy Mason (and only Biddy) as one of the women "who helped build early California." The Department of Education does not explain exactly why and what it believes all 4th graders should know about Biddy Mason. If you had a time machine and could travel back to Caledonia in the 1850s and meet with Biddy Mason, what questions would you have for her?

Your task is to team up with a partner and develop twelve in depth questions about the challenges and obstacles faced by Biddy Mason as well as her accomplishments. Once you have your questions ready, you will begin the research process in order to arrive at answers that truly capture the spirit of Biddy Mason. Your final product will be done in two steps:

Step One: A "publishable" transcript of your interview with Biddy Mason. Be sure to read the scoring guide for a full credit transcript.

Step Two: A live interview with Biddy Mason. Be sure to read the scoring guide for a full credit live interview.

Online Sources


Refer to the scoring guide.