Mrs. Case's WebQuests

Exploring the Internet One Site at a Time

                      Muckraker Magazine

A WebQuest for 8th Grade Social Studies

 (Progressive Era)

Adapted from a WebQuest designed by:

Kristin M. Keefe


America is in a state of turmoil. The changes brought by industrialization have corrupted American politics, overcrowded American cities, and led to Big Business controlling the country. The conditions worsen with each day, and the public needs to know about these atrocities. Your group has been asked to assemble a news team of muckrakers to expose these issues to society.

Essential Question:  How does the media influence change in politics, economics, and society. 

Wherever you see a word in blue and underlined, this is a link to another portion of this page that will explain something to you.  The web sites that you will use to research this project are green and underlined..

The Task

Your team will create a Muckraker Magazine. As a team of investigative reporters, editors, photographers, and cartoonists, you will bring the issues of the Progressive Era to life before the public eye. The mission of your magazine is to capture the spirit of the reform era (1890-1920) with accurate, eye-catching graphics and news angles that will expose the problems and accomplishments of the times.

Your Final Product:

Using Microsoft Word, your team will create a Muckraker Magazine.

The Process Checklist

There are 6 steps for you to follow during this project. Use the PROCESS CHECKLIST and check off each step as you have completed it.

Step 1.
Each group member chooses one
role from the task section and follows the requirements for that role.

Step 2.
Each person in your group is responsible for writing two
features articles, drawing or finding on the internet one political cartoon, and finding one actual photograph on the internet. (See "Step 6" for the requirements for the cartoon and the photograph.) 

Step 3.
Each person in the group is responsible for one page in the Magazine. You will design your page with your 4 products (two articles, one cartoon, one photograph). Your completed page is the last step that will be checked off on your PROCESS CHECKLIST paper.

Step 4.
Look at the list entitled
Examining the Progressive Era. Each person will choose two aspects on the list to write about. You may not write your features articles on the same aspect as another member of your group. Also, you must choose two from different categories. The categories are Social Problems, Reformers, Economics/ Big Business, and Politics.

Step 5.
Use the
websites below to research the Progressive Era for your articles, cartoons and photographs. You may also use any information from your textbook and Social Studies binder.

Step 6.
How do I know if my tasks are complete?

Your written articles must explain what the problem was, what the reform was and what the effect of the reform was. In addition, you must categorize and analyze the problem in the context of social, political or economic. Make sure you have followed the guidelines for writing your features articles below. If you follow this model for each article, you will have completed the task. For further instructions and help organizing your articles see: Features Article Requirements 

Each cartoon must show the problem and who was being hurt by it. It may or may not include the solution. In addition, your cartoon should be analyzed by answering the three questions:

  1. what is the issue?
  2. what are the symbols?
  3. what is the opinion of the author?

Your photograph must be from the time period 1865-1920. Write a caption for the photograph that interprets it. This is accomplished by discussing what is in the photograph, what problem is being shown and what might help.

The Roles for Your Team: Choose One Role

Features Writers:
Motivated, skilled writers interested in uncovering the scandals and reforms of the day. Experience with word processing (Microsoft Word), and ability to research the facts and report the muck to the public on a daily basis, adherence to deadlines, and good time-management skills are necessary. Features writers should have strong writing skills, and be willing to offer suggestions/ help for other team members.

Features Editors:
Individuals with strong leadership skills are sought. Experience with organizing and arranging large amounts of data, a talent for recognizing high quality work, excellent editing/ grammatical skills, tact, an ability to communicate with a features team and ability to motivate others is a must. Features Editor must proof read other group members articles.

Graphic Artist/ Layout Specialist:
Talented individuals with strong spatial abilities, mathematical computation skills, creative, and artistic ideas are needed to design and arrange articles, cartoons, and editorials on a magazine page. Ability to adhere to deadlines is a must. Graphic artist is responsible for checking each team members' layout for creativity and should offer suggestions/ help and sign off on the layout when finished.

Artistic individuals with the ability to show an issue from several points of view. Experience with drawing, computer applications. Knowledge and insight into Progressive Era history, political and social scandals is a must. The cartoonist is responsible for checking all team members cartoons, offer suggestions/ help and sign off on the cartoon when it is finished.

Examining the Progressive Era

Social Problems
New immigration
Unsanitary housing conditions in cities/ tenements
Infant mortality rate
Child labor
Forest Reserve Act

Henry George
Edward Bellamy
Jane Addams
Henry Demarest Lloyd
-Jacob Riis, John Spargo, Ida Tarbell, Upton Sinclair, Theodore Dreiser, Frank Norris
Niagara Movement/ NAACP
Susan B. Anthony/ Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Alice Paul
W.E.B. DuBois
Thomas Nast

Economics/ Big Business
Monopolies/ Trusts
Interstate Commerce Commission
Wabash v. Illinois (1886)
Sherman Antitrust Act
Clayton Antitrust Act
Federal Trade Commission
John D. Rockefeller/ Standard Oil
Andrew Carnegie
J.P. Morgan
Hazardous working conditions
Labor Unions
Meat Inspections Act
Pure Food & Drug Act
Hepburn Act
Workmen's Compensation Laws

Patronage system
Civil Service Act
Political bosses and machines
William Marcy "Boss" Tweed
Good-government movement
Primary, referendum, recall, initiative
Robert LaFollette
Secret Ballot system/ Australian Ballot
President Theodore Roosevelt, square deal
Progressive Party
Sixteenth Amendment
Seventeenth Amendment
1916 Keating-Owen Child Labor Act

Feature Article Requirements

A feature article is a descriptive article that describes the facts, issues, or topics. It is without opinion and written for publication in a newspaper or magazine. A feature or informative article is written to inform the audience of issues strictly from an objective stand point (no opinion). While being an unbiased article, news articles explain both sides/ perspectives of an issue or topic.


  • informs the reader of a news story, topic or event
  • presents an unbiased view on a topic or issue
  • presents both sides of an issue: for example, a feature article on child labor would show both the uses and misuses of it
  • starts with a catchy lead in statement to get the attention of the audience
  • uses quotes within the body paragraphs to add credibility
  • uses newspaper techniques such as who, what, when, where, why
  • includes a catchy headline, along with a date and name of the author

How should I organize my article?

1. Your introduction should include a catch opening sentence or lead statement, the issue at hand, and closing statement about the purpose of the article.Purpose of Introduction:

  • to grab the attention of the reader
  • to briefly describe the issue at hand, and provide a preview of what will come next in the body paragraphs

2. The body paragraph of your essay should focus on the content (what your topic is about and role of your topic/individual within the Progressive Era) what importance is your person or event in the Progressive era.Methods for writing body paragraph:

  • provide factual supporting evidence for each statement made
  • present both sides of the issue/ person (both perspectives)
  • answer 5 W's - who, what where, when, why
  • use quotes if possible to add credibility to your article
  • use descriptive language to hold the attention of your audience, but be very careful not to add any opinion

3. The concluding paragraph should summarize the importance of the topic and hint on future ramifications; direction of the topic. It clinches the purpose of the article and gives the readers something to think about.Purpose of conclusion:

  • summarize concisely the essential points of the article
  • entice the reader to read future articles by adding a brief statement about the future ramifications/ circumstances surrounding the topic


Your Magazine will be evaluated on the following 5 criteria in the rubric box below. Your goal is to achieve an exemplary score for each criteria. Your Magazine is scored on an individual basis.

Describe to the learners how their performance will be evaluated. Specify whether there will be a common grade for group work vs. individual grades.











Article #1


Little to no evidence of identifying and analyzing a problem and the reform needed.

Some development of identifying and analyzing a problem. May be more descriptive than analytical

Identification and Analysis of the problem are complete and may be a mix of description and analysis.

Identification and analysis of the problem  are well developed and evidence includes a synthesis of social, political and economic discussion


Article #2



Little to no evidence of identifying and analyzing a problem and the reform needed.

Some development of identifying and analyzing a problem. May be more descriptive than analytical

Identification and Analysis of the problem are complete and may be a mix of description and analysis.

Identification and analysis of the problem  are well developed and evidence includes a synthesis of social, political and economic discussion


Political Cartoon



The 3 answers have little to no explanation.

The 3 answers have a mixture of description and analysis and some questions are more developed than others.

The 3 answers include a mix of description and analysis.

The 3 answers are well developed and evidence of analysis of the effect of the cartoon is evident.




Little to no interpretation of the photograph, the problem and what reform might help.

The interpretation of the photograph is more descriptive than analytical and categorizes the problem.

The photograph is interpreted with a mixture of description and analysis and categorizes the problem.

The photograph has a well developed interpretation identifying the problem and what might help as well as categorizing the problem.


Creativity and Graphics

Publisher page is basic.

Publisher page is neat but student ran out of time to add exemplar qualifiers.

Publisher page has some of the exemplar qualifiers.

Publisher page has interesting graphics, fonts, borders, elements of design, balance and other details.


You have explored the Progressive Era by playing the role of a Muckraker and identifying problems in society, politics, and economics which need to be reformed. In addition, your task was to analyze the problem by identifying what possible solutions there were to the problems and evaluate the effects the solutions might have on the United States. Ultimately, the Progressive Era content should be synthesized throughout your Muckraker Magazine.