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Brian Edwards Unit Lessons University of New England

The following lesson plans are part of a unit on the Great Depression. These lessons would take place after lessons dealing with the roaring 20s and the stock market crash so students would be expected to have prior knowledge of the causes of the Great Depression. This unit is intended for my students who are adult learners working towards achieving their GED. There are many learning disabled students in my room and the range of abilities is varied. I have some students who are ready to take the GED while I have others who are still struggling with the basics of reading comprehension. In order to bridge this gap, I often use grouping in my classroom. Student groups are not ability based but are assigned randomly and students are used to working in these groups. These lessons involve many different strategies to meet the needs of my various learners.


Introduction The Great Depression impacted almost every American living during the 1920s. There were many great photographs taken during this era that captured the struggle that Americans had to endure. This lesson will use some of these images to evoke an emotional response from students and have them respond intellectually to how these images make them feel.


Objectives At the end of this lesson students will be able to: - Identify struggles endured by Americans during the Great Depression - Draw information from pictures of American history - Write a satisfactory reflective response to the images viewed



The following materials will be needed for this lesson: - 20 sheets of loose leaf paper - 20 pens or pencils - 4 laminated copies of Great Depression pictures (pictures attached) - Lesson should take about 30 -35 minutes - Appropriate CD or cassette tape with classical background music IV. Anticipatory Set As students walk into the classroom, desks will be assigned in group setting. Students will be broken up into groups of 4. When students get to their assigned seats, each seat will have a pen and a piece of paper on it. In the middle of the group table, one laminated copy of each picture will be placed in the middle of the desk. This way, one group has the picture on farming, another on the bank closings, another on Hoovervilles, and another on bread lines. Each group will get a unique view into life during the Great Depression. After the students get seated, teacher will instruct the groups to look at the picture that is located on their group table. Once all groups have settled, teacher informs group members that they are Americans who are living in the Great Depression. The picture in front of them represents the struggles that they are currently enduring in the Depression. The group secretary (predetermined) will jot down notes about what each group members think about the photo. Groups are to spend 5 minutes discussing what they see in the pictures. After the 5 minutes, the group presenter (predetermined) will present their picture and the group findings to the rest of the class. After each group has presented, 5 minutes or so, teacher will tell the students that, based on their findings, each of them, individually, is to write a letter to the government explaining what their situation is and what they need for assistance. Every student is to do this individually so that each letter has its own unique voice.


Body of Lesson The body of this lesson will be the students crafting their letter to the government. During this part of the lesson, the teacher will put on the classical music in the background while the students work. Teachers, while making sure that the students are working individually, should encourage students to ask questions while writing their letter (letter writing skills have been reviewed and reinforced throughout the entirety of the course). Teacher should remind students that the letter should be formal because of its intended audience.

During the course of the students writing, teacher should be revolving around the room and guiding students during their writing. Teacher should allow students at least 20 minutes to write the letter. Some students may take longer to finish the letter so teacher should have an early finisher activity prepared.


Conclusion Once students are done crafting their letters, teacher informs the group leader (predetermined) to put the letters into their group folder as they will be used in an upcoming lesson. - Students should then be directed to rearrange the desks back into regular classroom position for the rest of class. - Teacher should open the class up to discussion about the pictures. What did students think of the pictures? Were they surprised by their reactions to the pictures? Did they see anything that they werent expecting to see? Assessment - Students will be assessed in the following ways: - Ongoing assessment in class through questions and discussions. - A group project that will be conducted in the following lesson. - A DBQ in a later class that will have students give their reaction to a picture from the Great Depression.


I believe that this lesson does a lot of things well to cater to the needs of students of all backgrounds and skill levels. First of all, it implements group work. As Cohen and Spenciner state in Teaching Students with Mild and Moderate Disabilities, all students should have opportunities to work collaboratively with otherswork done in groups is challenging and meaningful (Cohen and Spenciner, 2009). The group aspect of this activity allows students to work on their collaboration skills in an academic setting. Also, the use of pictures varies the stimuli used in instruction and caters more towards all different types of learners. Also, the discussion, pictures, and writing make sure that the lesson taps into visual, auditory, and kinesthetic channels. Cohen and Spenciner also state that some important accommodations for those students who have learning disabilities are using visual, aural, and tactile strategies and materials (Cohen and Spenciner, 2009). I also believe that this is a good

example of authentic assessment. Writing a coherent letter is a skill that most students will need in their lifetime. As Cohen and Spenciner state in their Social Studies segment of the text, authentic assessment is particularly appropriate for social studies because of the dynamic nature of the content and the many natural opportunities to use this assessment (Cohen and Spenciner, 2009). Since this is a skill that students will use in the future, it applies to their lives in a greater sense and I believe that it adds meaning to the assessment.

Lesson 2


Introduction - In previous lessons, students have looked at some of the effects of the Great Depression. Now that they have thought critically about what effects the Great Depression had on Americans, it is time for students to start thinking about how the country will be able to get out of the Depression. In preparation for their learning on the New Deal, students will be thinking about what steps the country must take in order to get out of the Depression.


Objectives - At the end of this lesson, students will be able to: - Think critically about the problems faced by Americans during the Great Depression - Create a plan with a group of peers to improve conditions faced by Americans during the Great Depression. - Work collaboratively and effectively in a group setting - Display a better understanding of the Great Depression


Materials - Teacher will need the following materials for this lesson - 4 complete sets of Crayola Super Tip Markers - 4 laminated copies of Great Depression pictures (pictures attached) - 4 16x24 pieces of poster board - Copies of letters written by students in previous lesson - Lesson should take about 45-55 minutes


Anticipatory Set - As students walk into the class the desks will be set up in the group setting. Students will already know where to go because of their familiarity with the group set up. - On each group table there will be one sheet of poster board, one set of Crayola markers, and one laminated picture from the Great Depression. Teachers must make sure that each group gets the same picture that they had during the last lesson for continuity. - When class has settled, teacher should tell the group leader (predetermined) to get out the letters that they had written in the last class. - Teacher will lead the class in a short, 2-3 minute discussion about the last class and their feelings on the pictures they saw. - Teacher will ask the students what they would do to make things better. Teacher will take a couple of answers to this question before cutting the questioning off. Teacher will reinforce the idea with the students that they have seen into the life of the American during the Great Depression. - Teacher will inform the students that now their group is to serve as a government committee. The purpose of their committee will be to come up with ideas on what they could do to help alleviate the problems faced by Americans during the Depression. As a group, they are to come up with their ideas for solutions and to create a poster that details their plan and to present it to the rest of the class.


Body of Lesson The body of this lesson will mainly be the students creating their posters. It will be up to the teacher to facilitate the effectiveness of each group. Before the groups start creating the poster, teacher should outline on the board exactly what is expected of the posters. They should include no less than 3 specific plans to alleviate the struggles depicted in their picture. All of their suggestions should have justification for why they are implemented and how they are going to help the country throughout the Depression. During the poster creation, teacher should be moving from group to group monitoring suggestions and offering help to groups that may need it. Each group should address these specific topics in their poster. If students are having trouble coming up with ideas for suggestions, they should refer to the letters they wrote in the previous class. Teachers should be encouraging the students during the poster creation to use their letters as a blueprint for their plan. Their poster and plan should address all of the concerns stated in the letters that they wrote to the government. Allow at least 30 minutes for the poster creation.


Once posters are created, the group presenter (predetermined) will present the poster to the rest of the class. The presenters will each present their findings and justifications for their plan. If there are any questions, they will be asked during this time. Allow 2-3 minutes per presentation. Conclusion Once presentations are complete, teacher will have students move desks back to regular class set up. - The teacher will thank all the groups for their work on their plans and facilitate a short discussion on whether or not the class thinks that the plans would have been effective. - The teacher ends the lesson by saying that in the upcoming classes, the students will be exploring the package of plans put together to combat the Depression known as the New Deal. Assessment - Students will be assessed in the following ways. - Students will be given a group grade based on the poster project rubric (attached) - Ongoing assessment will be conducted by group discussion and classroom participation.


I believe this lesson also caters to the necessities of all types of students. As the first lesson, it is also a group lesson that involves many different learning channels and is an authentic assessment. There are some other things about this lesson that I believe help to differentiate the instruction. In Chapman and Kings Differentiated Assessment Strategies, they outline that ongoing feedback and performance feedback accelerates learning and empowers a student (Chapman and King, 2012). I believe that the constant monitoring by the teacher and the feedback that the groups get from the rest of the class are very important. If a struggling learner is part of a project that the teacher gives good feedback to and then is received well by the class, it goes a long way towards increasing that students self worth. Also, in Marzano, Pickering, and Pollocks Classroom Instruction that Works, they state that one of the best way to provide feedback is with rubrics because providing feedback in terms of specific levels of knowledge and skill is better than providing students with a percentage score (Marzano et. al., 2001). In my classroom, I provide my students with the rubric for projects when I assign them so that

students have a clear idea as to what is expected of them. I believe that these things make this lesson more appropriate and engaging for students of all types.

This is an example of a rubric I have created for a poster project in the past. I would use a rubric similar to this for the second lesson.



4 Poster is organized, attractive looking, and contains many accessories that draw attention. Each aspect is easily visible and clear in its purpose. All information on the poster was historically accurate and was very detailed.

Poster is not Poster is attractive organized and there and contains does not seem to be accessories. Well much rhyme put together or reason as to why and easy to look at. accessories are attached. Information was historically accurate but only went into light detail.

Poster is unorganized and unattractive. Does not contain any accessories.


Poster had some historical inaccuracies and few details. Student struggled with the historical significance of the topic but still presented well and answered questions to the best of their ability. Student was not as prepared as necessary for presentation. Some directions were followed and the poster met some of the necessary requirements.

Poster was historically inaccurate and contained little or no supporting details.

Student spoke about topic with a clear understanding of the historical significance of the topic. Student Presentation answered questions and was very knowledgeable across the board. Student spoke clearly and was prepared. All directions were followed and the poster met all of the necessary requirements.

Student understood the historical significance of their topic. Student answered questions fairly well and was relatively prepared for the presentation.

Student did not understand the historical significance of the topic and was woefully underprepared for the presentation.


Most directions were followed and the poster met most of the necessary requirements.

No directions were followed and the poster met none of the necessary requirements.


Chapman, C. & King, R. (2012). Differentiated assessment strategies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Cohen, L.G. & Spenciner, L.J. (2009). Teaching students with mild and moderate disabilities. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Marzano, R., Pickering, D. & Pollock, J. (2001). Classroom instruction that works. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.