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Great Depression Unit. Topic: The Great Depression. Subtopics: Causes and Results of Depression Diverse Ways of Life During the Depression The Role of the Government in Economic Recovery Champaign-Urbana and Illinois during the Depression. Brainstorming. Causes and results of Depression:

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topic the great depression
Topic:The Great Depression
  • Subtopics:
    • Causes and Results of Depression
    • Diverse Ways of Life During the Depression
    • The Role of the Government in Economic Recovery
  • Champaign-Urbana and Illinois during the Depression
  • Causes and results of Depression:
    • Stock Market Crash
    • President Hoover
    • President Roosevelt
    • Government Policies

New Deal

    • Increases in taxes
    • Poverty

Diverse Ways of Life During the Depression

Diverse Ways of Life During the Depression
    • Hoovervilles
    • Sacrifices across socioeconomic statuses
    • Unemployment
The Role of Government in Economic Recovery
    • Public Works Program
    • Reconstruction Finance Corporation
    • Bonus Army
Champaign/Urbana and Illinois during the Depression
    • Interviewing community members who lived through the Great Depression.
key perspectives
Key Perspectives
  • Making choices and taking actions: students will critically analyze the political and societal actions that were taken by the government and society as a whole during this time.
  • Living with uncertainty: engagement of students in significant ideas and experiences. To address this perspective we plan to integrate math, literature, history, and social studies.
  • This unit is important to teach to fifth graders because they have the tools necessary to comprehend the Great Depression. The Great Depression changed society and there are still lasting effects felt today. The Great Depression lead to preventative actions being taken to ensure that history will not be repeated. By making the unit meaningful and integrating other subject areas we are using the best practices in social students education. We are also allowing students to critically analyze and form their own opinions on how the Great Depression came to be.
instructional strategies
Instructional Strategies:
  • Using Documents
    • Students will read a letter written to Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Community Resources:
    • Students will research at library
    • Community member will be interviewed on personal experiences from Great Depression
instructional strategies10
Instructional Strategies
  • Interviews
    • Interviewing a community member
    • Students will create questions to ask
  • Incorporated current events
    • Students look at current economic issues and relate them to the past.
background information
Background Information
  • A local teacher informed us that this topic is discussed briefly in fifth grade only if tied with a book in literature. In sixth grade it is also discussed if time at the end of the year. It is not until eighth grade that students are fully immersed into what the Great Depression really is.
  • The teachers we interviewed seemed to feel apprehensive about this topic because it is more recent than say the war 1812. The Great Depression still has lasting effects both emotionally and economically. These teachers choose not to cover it in depth because they do not feel their students are capable of fully understanding it and appreciating its history.
doing history
Doing History
  • Benefits of using Documents:
    • According to Doing History; “If children are to enthusiastically engage in sustained conversation about history, four things are required:
        • Questions worth discussing
        • Questions that do not have single answers
        • Sufficient and appropriate data sources so that students can attempt to answer the questions
        • Imaginative entry into the past (24).”
doing history13
Doing History
  • Instructional Strategies:
    • “Students should not be limited to a single learning style (38).”
    • “All students should be given the time and support to engage in a variety of assignments (38).”
    • “Authentic tasks allow for student choices (38).”
literacy link
Literacy Link
  • Read aloud from Karen Hesse’s Out of the Dust
  • Reading a letter
  • Writing the newspaper article
  • Writing letter to legislature
  • Going to the library for research
  • Through reading these stories, writing stories, and researching students will be encouraged to place themselves in the characters shoes and hence experience the Great Depression.
essential questions and enduring understandings
Essential Questions and Enduring Understandings
  • How does economic turmoil affect people?
    • Everyone in the nation was affected regardless of socioeconomic status
    • Extreme unemployment
  • What role does government play in the economics of a nation?
    • All major economic decisions involve the government
    • Decisions made at the national level affect the local level
  • VII Production, Distribution, and Consumption
    • f. Explaining and illustrate how values and beliefs influence different economic decisions
    • I. Use economic concepts to help explain historical and current developments and issues in local, national, or global events
unit sketch
Unit Sketch
  • Tuning in:

Students will receive a letter that was written by a child who lived through the Great Depression. This letter will help bring into light the hardships faced by those who experienced this time of turmoil.

Mason, Wisconsin

January 9, 1934

Dear Mrs. F. Roosevelt,

I suppose you'll be kind of surprised to hear from a poor little girl. I am ten years old. On Christmas eve I had wished for Santa Clause to come but my mama said the chimney was blocked & he couldn't come, so I had a poor Christmas. I was expecting Santa to bring me some things.

I lost my daddy when I was two years old.

I have read in the papers how good you are to the poor and thought maybe you can help me some. I will appreciate it all my life.

To-day we have started school from our Christmas vacation & all the children talk about how many presents Santa has brought them & I felt so bad cause I had nothing to say. I guess that is all. My address is R#2, Box 7 Mason, Wisconsin

Yours truly,

M. A.


Tuning In:

The teacher will engage students with a read aloud from “Out of the Dust” by Karen Hesse. This story takes place during the Great Depression and will allow students to gain an understanding of the hardships faced by families similar to theirs. This will allow students to make personal connections and thus make history relevant to them.

Preparing to find out-

After reading the letters we will create a KWL chart. Students will discuss what they already know, and what they would like to know. After the students discuss what they would like to learn about the Great Depression, they will prepare questions that they can research or ask a community member who will be coming in to discuss their experiences of the Great Depression. At the end of the unit, we will revisit this chart and discuss what was learned.

Finding out-

A community member will come in and share the hardships they endured throughout the Great Depression. Afterwards, students will be able to ask questions and interview the speaker. Students will research any remaining questions via the internet. They will also have the opportunity to visit the library and research using books, journals and other documents.

Sorting out-

After the students have interviewed and conducted their research, they will organize their information in an article format. This article will then be used as part of the culminating activity which will be creating a newspaper.

Going Further-

The dust bowl in the Great Depression was caused by erosion and weathering. Students will perform various activities to see what wind erosion is, why it happens, and its effects. We will also study Albert Einstein the famous scientist who migrated to the United States in the early 1930’s.

Making connections-

Students will see how the prices of many things familiar to them have changed over time. Through the lesson, students will understand that there is not only a price increase in goods, but that there was an increase in wages as well.

Taking actions-

Students will write a letter to the legislation regarding any topic that is of economic concern to them. After having studied the Great Depression, students will have seen how a national problem hit home. Students will then discuss a national topic and how its concerns them at the local level.

  • Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
  • Doing History by Linda S. Levstik and Keith C. Barton
  • Formative-
    • Informal and formal
    • Group work
    • Individual
    • Peer Assessment
  • Summative-
    • Student will be graded on their overall participation throughout the unit and their final newspaper projects.
  • Stressful, time consuming, and scary
  • Great group members
  • Talkative yet hardworking
  • Used many outside resources
  • Asked for help
  • Prefer lesson planning over unit planning
reflection cont
Reflection Cont…
  • Best part was learning ourselves
  • Organization is key
  • Learned importance of Unit planning