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Lessons

Social Security: 1 Day Lesson

Overview:

Students use primary source documents to compare perspectives on helping the poor during the Great Depression. Students will examine different approaches to relief presented in two primary documents, answer questions relating to the documents, and explain which approach they think best and why.

Learning Goals:

  • Students will explore different ways that Americans perceived and suggested managing the Great Depression.
  • Students will begin to read documents historically, using strategies of contextualization, careful reading, and corroboration.

Materials:

Plan of Instruction:

DAY ONE (approximately 50 minutes)
Step 1: 10 minutes: Introduction, free-write

Have students respond to the free-write prompt: Do you think the United States government should provide relief for people who are unemployed? Why or why not?

Explain to students that during the Great Depression Americans debated this question and that people formulated different approaches to providing for the large number of the United States' unemployed workers.

Today students will be examining two of these approaches and determining which one they think is best.

Step 2: 15 minutes: Read and analyze Advertisement document

Pass out "1931 Advertisement" document. Referring to the document's header, explain that this advertisement was produced by the Hoover administration and is representative of that administration's approach to the Great Depression.

In pairs, students read the document and complete the notebook questions.

Step 3: 15 minutes: Read and analyze "Long" document

Pass out "Long" document. Referring to the document's header, explain who Huey Long was and point out that his position represented one quite different from the one represented in the Literary Digest.

In pairs, students read the document and complete the notebook questions.

Step 4: 10 minutes: Classroom discussion

According to the Literary Digest advertisement, did the Hoover administration recommend helping the poor during the Great Depression? How?

What did Huey Long suggest be done in order to pull the United States out of the Great Depression?

What are specific ways that these two points of view differed?

Step 5: 10 minutes: Assessment

Students review free-writes.

Ask students how the ideas in their free-writes compare to recommendations of the Hoover administration and Huey Long. Make sure to acknowledge issues related to the discontinuity between considering the role of government today and in the 1930s.

    In one-page essay students address the prompt:
  • What were different views about how to help the poor during the Great Depression?

Explain which of these two approaches you believe was the better way of providing for the unemployed in the 1930s. Make sure to use specific examples from the documents.

Homework:

Finish writing assignments.