ALEX Lesson Plan


Forming Unions

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Kirk Pearson
System: Hale County
School: Moundville Elementary School
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 7540


Forming Unions


This activity uses technology to generate interest in the study of labor unions. Students will use the Internet for research and conclude with a presentation about union leaders or labor organizations.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
TC2 (6-8)
2. Publish digital products that communicate curriculum concepts.
Examples: Web pages, videos, podcasts, multimedia presentations
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
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 be able to explain the role of labor organizations and union leaders in improving the working conditions of Americans at the turn of the century.

    Additional Learning Objective(s):

    Students will discuss the role of labor unions of the early nineteen hundreds in comparison to the labor unions of today.

     Preparation Information 

    Total Duration:

    Greater than 120 Minutes

    Materials and Resources:

    Handout of rubric for each student (See step 3), list of possible topics (from websites mentioned in steps 4, 5, and 6)

    Technology Resources Needed:

    Computer with Internet access, presentation software, computer projection device such as LCD projector or TV scan converter is desirable


    Teacher must know about the "Battle of the Overpass" (see Step 1). The teacher should provide a list or bookmark possible sites for students to use to find information on this topic.

    1.)For background information, the teacher will need to know about the "Battle of the Overpass."
    (The Walter Reuther Library)
    Wayne State University and the Walter Reuther Library provides many photos of United Auto Workers and their leader.

    2.)Show the stduents a slide show from the Internet about the Battle of the Overpass. [When you access the link below, you must click "Next 10 Galleries" five (5) times to pull up the story for Battle of the Overpass.] Have students listen to find out why a union tried to form in the Ford Motor Company plant. Prompt students to guess how the people in the picture felt in each situation. After presentation, ask students why workers wanted a union in their plant.
    (News Photo Galleries (Battle of the Overpass))
    The Detroit News Rearview Mirror Galleries shows photo galleries for events of interest that took place in or around Detroit.

    3.)Explain to students that the presentation is an example of what they will be doing. Give them a copy of the grading rubric that will be used and explain each step.
    Website with a grading rubric.

    4.)Students will research a labor organization or a union leader of their choice. The following website has a list of possible topics:
    The site lists unions affiliated with the AFL-CIO.

    5.)Another site for a possible topic:
    (United Auto Workers)
    This site gives information about a leading labor organization.

    6.)Other possible topics could include labor leaders. This site can be used to research men such as Walter Reuther, James Hoffa, or Samuel Gompers.
    This web site provides information on historical figures.

    7.)Students will write a written report, make a visual aid, and present the information to the class. The visual aid can be a PowerPoint presentation, a diorama, a mobile, a sculpture, etc. After each presentation, have the class summarize what conditions the union was trying to improve when it developed; a running list will be kept on the board.

    8.)As a culminating activity for this lesson, invite local union leaders to the class. Ask them to speak on issues their respective unions are currently addressing. Have them to give specific examples of how they are trying to improve the workplace.


    Assessment Strategies

    A rubric will be used to evaluate the projects. See the link in Step 3 for an example of a rubric.





    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.