HOME: The Story of Maine

"The Nation's Playground": A Matter of Perspective - A Hearing
Lesson 1


Guiding Principles

1. A Clear and Effective Communicator

  • Uses oral, visual, and technological modes of expression.

    2. A Creative and Practical Problem Solver

  • Observes situations objectively to clearly and accurately define problems; generates a variety of solutions, builds a case for the best response, and critically evaluates the effectiveness of this response.

    3. A Responsible and Involved Citizen

  • Understands the importance of accepting responsibility for personal decisions and actions; and recognizes and understands the diverse nature of society.

    4. A Collaborative and Quality Worker

  • Demonstrates reliability, flexibility, and concern for quality.

    CIVICS AND GOVERNMENT: Rights, Responsibilities, and Participation

  • Students will understand the rights and responsibilities of civic life and will employ the skills of effective civic participation. Students will be able to:

    Middle Grades 5-8: Identify ways in which citizens in a pluralistic society manage differences of opinion on public policy issues.

    Secondary Grades: Develop and defend a position on a public policy issue within our democracy.

    HISTORY: Chronology

  • Students will use the chronology of history and major eras to demonstrate the relationship of events and people. Students will be able to:

    Middle Grades 5-8: Describe the effects of historical changes on daily life.

  • Students will:

    • Develop positions on whether or not to approve a plan to build a new luxury hotel in their township.
    • Present their positions in a class hearing, either in groups, or individually.
    • Write an editorial for the local paper expressing their individual opinions about the proposition.
    • Evaluate their own performance as individuals, and as members of a group.

    Estimated Timing: 5-6 class periods



    1. Watch The Nation's Playground as a class. After the video, discuss with students the effect that the rise in tourism had on Maine communities. Give some examples of how tourism helped Maine communities. What were some of the drawbacks? How did some native Mainers react to the presence of tourists in the more rural areas of Maine? How did farmers react? Native tribes? Railroad companies? Discuss the notion that there are always at least two sides to every story, and that the same is true for the tourism industry in Maine. Though it brought economic success for many communities, not to mention individuals, it also caused problems for people who were used to living a certain way, especially in the rural areas of the state.

    2. Introduce the activity to students. Hand out "A Matter of Perspective" Assignment Sheets. Go over instructions together.

    3. Split students into groups. There should be at least three to four people in each group. The groups are:

    • The developers: This group should prepare and present the proposal for the building of the luxury hotel. They should present as many reasons as they can for why such a hotel would benefit the township (i.e. jobs, money, opportunities).
    • Local farmers: This group might conceivably have a positive attitude about the hotel. It would provide them with a market for fresh foods, and could potentially attract other tourists, who might want to rent out a room in a farmhouse for a more "rustic" vacation. On the other hand, this group might resent the way too many tourists might dominate the fishing and hunting in the area, which many farmers use to supplement their farm income.
    • Local seasonal workers (i.e. loggers, ice fishermen, river drivers, hunters, fishermen, etc.): This group has little to gain from a luxury hotel, and stands to lose their access to hunting and fishing in the area. The only thing they might potentially benefit from is the jobs the hotel would create.
    • Local Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet, or Micmac tribal members: This group will be able to sell baskets to the tourists who come to the hotel, and might also benefit from the increase in available jobs, but they also face the same issues surrounding hunting and fishing.
    • Railroad company owners: This group stands only to gain from the influx of more tourists into the area.
    • Local business owners: This group also would stand to gain from more tourists.

      *Note: The above list includes the probable positions of each group. Use the information provided at your discretion, perhaps to help groups that are stuck. Students should be formulating their group's position from what they learn from the video. Not all groups need to be represented.

    4. Have students choose roles within their groups. Each member of the group should have one of the following roles:

    • Facilitator: leads the discussion, makes sure everyone participates
    • Recorder: takes notes during discussion
    • Spokesperson: presents the group's position during the hearing
    • Timekeeper: remains aware of the time throughout the group's discussions, makes sure the group is accomplishing what they need to accomplish in the given time frame (if a group only has 3 people, the timekeeper can be combined with one of the other roles).
    5. Show the video a second time to the class. This time, students should watch the video with their group's perspective in mind. Each student should take notes on what the video either says directly or implies about the position of their group toward tourism.

    6. Give students enough time to prepare their position. Suggested time: one to two class periods, plus any necessary time outside of class. Visit with each group as they're working to monitor their progress and help with any issues that arise.

    7. Designate a day for the hearing. Each team should have 2-3 minutes to present their position. Encourage students to listen carefully to their classmates' presentations and to take notes on points they might wish to rebut. Give each group 1 minute to present their rebuttals. Finally, have the class vote on the proposal to build the hotel. They should do this anonymously, either with a ballot box, or by putting their heads on their desks and having students raise their hands.

    8. For homework, have students write a one-page editorial detailing their own opinions about the hypothetical development of a luxury hotel in rural Maine.

    9. Hand out the Group Evaluations. Have students evaluate their group's performance on the project. This should be their opportunity to brag about their group or comment honestly about what they feel did not go well. Encourage them to be honest yet fair. Take students' evaluations into account when you assign them their grades. They should receive two grades: one grade for the group, and an individual grade, based on the editorial as well as the individual's performance in the group.


    Research a current conflict raised by the tourist industry in Maine. Have students present opposing sides to the issue. Hold a debate.
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