ALEX Lesson Plan


What Was So Depressing About the Great Depression?

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Debra Crosby
System: Elba City
School: Elba Elementary School
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 16594


What Was So Depressing About the Great Depression?


This lesson focuses on the effects of the Great Depression on American life in the period from 1929-1940. Students learn about changes in art, music and literature that symbolize life of the everyday man. Students also learn about the causes that lead to the Great Depression.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
TC2 (6-8)
11. Use digital tools and strategies to locate, collect, organize, evaluate, and synthesize information.
Examples: locating—Boolean searches, graphic organizers, spreadsheets, databases
collecting—probeware, graphing calculators
organizing—graphic organizers, spreadsheets
evaluating—reviewing publication dates, determining credibility
synthesizing—word processing software, concept-mapping software
ELA2015 (6)
27. Conduct short research projects to answer a question, drawing on several sources and refocusing the inquiry when appropriate. [W.6.7]
ELA2015 (6)
28. Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources; assess the credibility of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and providing basic bibliographic information for sources. [W.6.8]
ELA2015 (6)
31. Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on Grade 6 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly. [SL.6.1]
a. Come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence on the topic, text, or issue to probe and reflect on ideas under discussion. [SL.6.1a]
b. Follow rules for collegial discussions, set specific goals and deadlines, and define individual roles as needed. [SL.6.1b]
c. Pose and respond to specific questions with elaboration and detail by making comments that contribute to the topic, text, or issue under discussion. [SL.6.1c]
d. Review the key ideas expressed and demonstrate understanding of multiple perspectives through reflection and paraphrasing. [SL.6.1d]
ELA2015 (6)
32. Interpret information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how it contributes to a topic, text, or issue under study. [SL.6.2]
ELA2015 (6)
37. Demonstrate command of the conventions of Standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking. [L.6.1]
a. Demonstrate knowledge of subject-verb agreement when interrupted by a prepositional phrase, with inverted word order, and with indefinite pronouns as subjects. (Alabama)
b. Ensure that pronouns are in the proper case (subjective, objective, possessive). [L.6.1a]
c. Use intensive pronouns (e.g., myself, ourselves). [L.6.1b]
d. Recognize and correct inappropriate shifts in pronoun number and person.* [L.6.1c]
e. Recognize and correct vague pronouns (i.e., ones with unclear or ambiguous antecedents).* [L.6.1d]
f. Recognize variations from Standard English in their own and others' writing and speaking, and identify and use strategies to improve expression in conventional language.* [L.6.1e]
SS2010 (6) United States Studies: The Industrial Revolution to the Present
2. Describe reform movements and changing social conditions during the Progressive Era in the United States.
  • Relating countries of origin and experiences of new immigrants to life in the United States
  • Example: Ellis Island and Angel Island experiences
  • Identifying workplace reforms, including the eight-hour workday, child labor laws, and workers' compensation laws
  • Identifying political reforms of Progressive movement leaders, including Theodore Roosevelt and the establishment of the national park system
  • Identifying social reforms of the Progressive movement, including efforts by Jane Adams, Clara Barton, and Julia Tutwiler (Alabama)
  • Recognizing goals of the early civil rights movement and the purpose of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
  • Explaining Progressive movement provisions of the Sixteenth, Seventeenth, Eighteenth, Nineteenth, and Twenty-first Amendments to the Constitution of the United States
  • SS2010 (6) United States Studies: The Industrial Revolution to the Present
    4. Identify cultural and economic developments in the United States from 1900 through the 1930s.
  • Describing the impact of various writers, musicians, and artists on American culture during the Harlem Renaissance and the Jazz Age
  • Examples: Langston Hughes, Louis Armstrong, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Andrew Wyeth, Frederic Remington, W. C. Handy, Erskine Hawkins, George Gershwin, Zora Neale Hurston (Alabama)
  • Identifying contributions of turn-of-the-century inventors
  • Examples: George Washington Carver, Henry Ford, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Alva Edison, Wilbur and Orville Wright (Alabama)
  • Describing the emergence of the modern woman during the early 1900s
  • Examples: Amelia Earhart, Zelda Fitzgerald, Helen Keller, Susan B. Anthony, Margaret Washington, suffragettes, suffragists, flappers (Alabama)
  • Identifying notable persons of the early 1900s
  • Examples: Babe Ruth, Charles A. Lindbergh, W. E. B. Du Bois, John T. Scopes (Alabama)
  • Comparing results of the economic policies of the Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover Administrations
  • Examples: higher wages, increase in consumer goods, collapse of farm economy, extension of personal credit, stock market crash, Immigration Act of 1924
    SS2010 (6) United States Studies: The Industrial Revolution to the Present
    5. Explain causes and effects of the Great Depression on the people of the United States.
    Examples: economic failure, loss of farms, rising unemployment, building of Hoovervilles
  • Identifying patterns of migration during the Great Depression
  • Locating on a map the area of the United States known as the Dust Bowl
  • Describing the importance of the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt as President of the United States, including the New Deal alphabet agencies
  • Locating on a map the river systems utilized by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) (Alabama)
  • Local/National Standards:


    Primary Learning Objective(s):

    Students will discuss the factors that lead to the Great Depression. Students will identify changes in music, literature, and art during the period of the Great Depression. Students will describe the effect the Great Depression had on the life of the common man.

    Additional Learning Objective(s):

     Preparation Information 

    Total Duration:

    Greater than 120 Minutes

    Materials and Resources:

    Copies of the attached handouts for each student

    Technology Resources Needed:

    Computers with Internet access, LCD projector


    The teacher should have knowledge of the period of history from 1920-1940 and its effect on the lives of the people, art, music and literature of the era. A knowledge of the fiction and nonfiction literature based on this era will also provide knowledge and a background for discussion. Students should have Internet navigation skills.

    1.)Introduce the lesson by asking students to share what they know about the Great Depression. List the information on the board. Tell students they are going to search Internet sites to locate important information about the Great Depression. OR
    Have songs from the depression years playing as students enter the classroom. Pass out lyrics and discuss their meaning. Songs might include Sixteen Tons , Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? and We're in the Money.
    (1920s & 1930s: THE DEPRESSION & THE NEW DEAL)
    A selection of songs from the 1920s - 1930s.

    2.)Place students into small groups. Have the groups investigate the Stock Market Crash of 1929 using the websites below. Give each group a handout (see attached) to guide them through their examination of the stock market crash.
    (1929 Stock Market Crash)
    This website gives information about the days before and after as well as additional sources where more information is located about the Stock Market Crash of 1929.

    A brief essay on the events during the Stock Market Crash of 1929.

    (Stock Market Crash)
    A short explanation of the Stock Market Crash that includes what the crash was and its effect on banks.

    (The Great Depression)
    A brief description on the effect on business and employment during the period of the Great Depression.

    (Photographs of the Great Depression)
    This website shows photos of people and the country during the Great Depression.

    (The Learning Page: Art and Entertainment in the 1930s and 1940s)
    The influence of the Great Depression on the arts and American life during the period from 1930-1939.

    8.)Review with students how to write expository papers by visiting the website below and using the attached student information sheet.
    (Expository Writing)
    This site teaches how to write expository papers.

    9.)Have students use the information obtained during their research to write an expository paper on one of three topics: "The Causes of the Great Depression," "How the Great Depression Affected Everyday American Life," or "The Effect of the Great Depression on the Arts." Remind students to properly cite sources.
    (MLA Citation Style)
    Examples of properly cited sources.

    **Some files will display in a new window. Others will prompt you to download.

    Assessment Strategies

    The teacher will use the attached rubric to assess student reports.





    Each area below is a direct link to general teaching strategies/classroom accommodations for students with identified learning and/or behavior problems such as: reading or math performance below grade level; test or classroom assignments/quizzes at a failing level; failure to complete assignments independently; difficulty with short-term memory, abstract concepts, staying on task, or following directions; poor peer interaction or temper tantrums, and other learning or behavior problems.

    Presentation of Material Environment
    Time Demands Materials
    Attention Using Groups and Peers
    Assisting the Reluctant Starter Dealing with Inappropriate Behavior
    Be sure to check the student's IEP for specific accommodations.