Teaching With Primary Sources Lesson: What is the role of the government, the community, and the individual in times of hardship?

In previous posts (here and here), I’ve described the work high school teachers from the Evergreen and Vancouver school districts did in a professional development cycle funded and guided by the Library of Congress’ Teaching with Primary Sources Western Region affiliate.  This blog post is one of five describing specific lessons created by teacher teams and explored through demonstration lessons using this protocol.
What is the role of government, community, and individuals in times of hardship?  This enduring question was the focus of a demonstration lesson taught to AP US History students at Evergreen High School on February 24, 2012.  Student groups examined document sets arranged around several themes related to the Hoover administration:  The Great Crash; Farmers, the Dust Bowl, and Exodusters; Jim Crow atrocities; The Bonus Army; and the response of Hoover’s administration.  Student groups huddled around laptops as the eagerly investigated images, sound files, and films, generating observations, inferences, and generalizations.

Lesson Materials:

I watched the students who worked with the Jim Crow collection.  As they moved from one source to the next, they made connections between items.  Their visceral reactions to the images led them to take a deeper look at the texts.  As they moved through the pieces, they began to get angry:  How could this have occurred over such a long period of time?  Why weren’t government forces intervening?

The debrief discussion was filled with interesting questions:  Does it matter what order students view a document set?  What group-roles need to be assigned by the teacher, and which best develop organically?  What kind of support would lead non-AP students to the same deft interpretation of the sources as the students we observed?

The lesson study team was composed of John Harvey, Mike Dillman, Jon Lauderbaugh, and Tim Trevarthen.  They join me in encouraging you to use the comments section below to discuss the lesson.

What do you see here?

How did you adapt it for use in your classroom?

How did your students respond?

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