The teacher will state, “The Great Depression began for farmers in the 1920s due an extended drought, low prices for farm products, the boll weevil, and poor farming techniques. What do you think life was like for Alabama farmers during the 1930s if times were already difficult by the beginning of the Great Depression?” Give students time to respond.
Step 1 Pass out copies or project the first four paragraphs of A Place of Springs. Tell the students that this is an excerpt from an Alabama author’s memoir written in the 1930s. Say, “Follow along with me as I read the excerpts, and picture the setting in which this story takes place. As I read this, remember that setting includes time, place, mood, physical environment, and cultural environment.” Read the excerpt to the class.
Step 2 Ask the students the following questions about the reading:
• “Are there any words that you did not understand?”
• “Where is the action of the story taking place geographically?”
• “What time period is it?”
• “What feeling is created in this paragraph? Is it bright, cheerful, or dark?”
• “What did you visualize as I was reading?”
• “What are some of the descriptive words or phrases that caught your attention?’
• “Have you ever been in such a place? If so, describe the setting.”
Step 3 Divide the class into eight groups. Give each group a copy of the “Knowledge, Observation, Interpretation Matrix” and a copy of one of eight photos linked in Materials and Equipment. Give students time to analyze the setting using the matrix.
Step 4 Allow a spokesman from each group to share answers to the questions on the matrix while the teacher shows the corresponding photograph. Another group member will record descriptors related to the picture on a chart. Examples of descriptors should include hot, dry, erosion, few material goods, tattered clothes, insects, animal-powered farm equipment, dilapidated housing. Tell students, “This list of descriptors of setting will be displayed for your use as you create a postcard illustrating what you have learned.”
Step 5 Pass out postcard assignment sheet and rubric to each student. Tell students, “Imagine that you are a young person living on a farm in Alabama during the Great Depression.” Instruct students to cut out the postcard portion of the sheet, then say, “On the blank side of the postcard design a picture illustrating the setting of your farm. On the other side, write a message describing a day in your life on the farm. Address the postcard to your hypothetical cousin in Ohio.”