Teacher Resources: Getting Started

Iowa Pathways is an online learning environment for grades 5-12 that challenges students to create their own story of the state as they explore the people, places, events and ideas of Iowa. This award-winning website helps students choose topics that interest them, create questions to research, and examine relationships among Iowa concepts—past to present. 

Primary Audience

The primary audience for this project is Iowa students in grades 5-12. However, some content included in the project is appropriate for all educational users and for general audiences.

Learning Goals and Objectives

Learning Goal

Students will gain an understanding of the people, places, events, and ideas that have made Iowa what it is today. They will analyze connections among these elements and evaluate how Iowa’s history influences its future. Students will identify Iowa’s role in United States and world history and develop an appreciation of their heritage as Iowans.

Primary Learning Objectives

After interacting with the content, students will:

  • Investigate topics, themes and times using primary and secondary sources.
  • Analyze relationships and make connections among the people, places, events and ideas of Iowa.
  • Evaluate the impact of the people, places, events and ideas of Iowa’s heritage and propose how these things have shaped Iowa’s past, present and future.
  • Identify and evaluate how key historical figures and events of Iowa have played a part in American and world history.
  • Use a variety of media and technology to communicate, research, solve problems and make decisions through open-ended exploration of content; investigation and inquiry; and creation of technology-based products to share.
  • Develop an appreciation of Iowa’s heritage and strengthen their identity as Iowans.

Secondary Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Apply Iowa concepts to learning in various disciplines.
  • Demonstrate effective reading strategies in the content area for the purpose of investigative research, vocabulary acquisition and content fluency.
  • Demonstrate effective research strategies.
  • Demonstrate effective communication skills.

Iowa Pathways Content

Iowa-based content and activities are presented in an online environment that invites thoughtful exploration, critical thinking and purposeful investigation of the people, places, events and ideas of Iowa. The elements of each article have been carefully selected to enhance student experiences and guide learning activities.

The content spans ten general themes:

  • Agriculture
  • Arts and Culture
  • Business and Industry
  • Education
  • Environment
  • Government
  • People
  • Communities
  • Transportation
  • War and Conflict

My Path Page

The project centerpiece is a collection of interconnected articles introducing students to the big ideas and specific topics of Iowa’s past and present. Each article is supported with images, website links and connections to related articles. Questions are presented to challenge students to think about what they are reading and establish personal relevance. Each article includes several components:

  • Article – An essay focuses on one topic and is the centerpiece of the article page. Topics in the articles are related to the ten themes of the project and may be very broad or quite specific.
  • Pathways – These descriptive links to other articles are a collection of interconnected big ideas and specific topics about Iowa’s past and present. Clicking on a connected article refreshes the page with the new topic and its associated links.
  • Media Artifacts – Thumbnail images and descriptive titles of relevant media take students to a related image, map, document, interactive, audio or video.
  • Side Trails – The descriptive links in this section take students to outside websites that further their exploration of their topic.

Media Artifacts

A media collection provides students with a way to search, sort and link to a growing number of images and videos.


The timeline allows students to explore Iowa history milestones and their connection to U.S. and world events and ideas. By selecting points in the timeline, students can compare and contrast events across different themes in history. Many will use this as a starting point to launch their investigation.

Quests & Challenges

Use a Quest in your classroom to introduce the website and guide them in their research. This collection of inquiry-based tasks support students as they make and interpret connections among the people, places, events, and ideas of Iowa. Quests allow students to analyze connections among these elements, evaluate their impact, investigate concepts, or identify Iowa’s role in United States and world history as they develop an appreciation of their heritage as Iowans. See Using the Quest for more information.

Suggested Uses

Depending on student ability, availability of technology and your own classroom needs, using this project can take anywhere from a few class periods to several months. There are many different ways you can use Iowa Pathways, either by grouping of students, subject matter, computer availability or a combination.

Student Grouping Examples

Iowa Pathways can be used in a variety of classroom situations.

  • Individuals:
    • One student per device
    • Students work individually on Quests
  • Partners:
    • Students share computer navigation responsibilities
    • Students share note taking
    • Students cooperate on Quests
  • Cooperative Learning Groups:
    • Students share computers
    • Students create learning groups with each student performing a specific task (note taker, navigator, coordinator, etc.)
    • Students cooperate on Quests
  • Whole Class:
    • Students share computers (break into task specific groups)
    • One student per computer
    • Students take notes, discuss issues, decide on travel, and problem solve together
    • Teacher may guide class discussion on research topic and exploration

Subject Area Connections

There are many different ways to use Iowa Pathways to connect to classroom curriculum. Science, social studies, language arts, industrial technology, careers, agriculture, business, family and consumer science, and many other areas all connect to this exciting and versatile resource. The Iowa Pathways resources are designed to connect to your curricular area using relevant content, higher-order thinking skills, and student-centered ideas to enhance the teaching and learning of Iowa content.

Iowa Past to Present Online Teacher's Guide

Iowa Past to Present

Iowa Pathways is now the home for the online teacher's guide for the revised 3rd edition of the Iowa Past to Present textbook, published by University of Iowa Press. The teacher's guide includes additional articles, videos, links and curriculum resources supporting each chapter of the textbook. View the guide.