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Unit of Practice
RIDING THE RAILS
Created by: J. Demonet

 

Invitation:  In the late 1920’s and early 1930’s the economic collapse tore apart the lives of
millions of Americans.  The Great Depression cut a swathe through American society, leaving an
indelible imprint on every American.  Millions of real people lost jobs, homes, and futures.
Unemployed workers stood for hours waiting for relief, or at employment agencies hoping to get
a job.  Many children went hungry, some died of starvation.  This unit will investigate and relate
one teenager's journey through the Great Depression.

Situation:  The unit will be carried out in a classroom or computer lab over a period of several
weeks.
 

Interactions:  The instructor will serve as a coach and guide to related resources.  Students will
work in small groups and individually.

Tasks:  Students will create a diary that was kept by a teenager who lived during the Great
Depression.  Their family has been hit hard by the Depression.  They believe the best way to help
their family is to go searching for work  The student travels across the United States by “riding
the rails” in hopes of finding a job.  Along the way, students meet social groups also hit hard by
the Depression.  Students will describe their experiences.  In addition, students research the work of Woody Guthrie and Dorthea Lange and their contribution to the understanding of the "common person" during the Great Depression.  The project will take four weeks.

Standards:  This unit responds to local and state curriculum guidelines.
                    California State Framework
                    Arcadia Unified District Curriculum Guidelines
                    California State Standards 11.6- Students analyze the human toll of the
                    Great Depression with particular attention to Dust Bowl refugees

Assessment:  Students will be graded on their creativity, mechanics and content.

Activity 1

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