Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

A Webquest about the Great Depression using primary resources

created by Michael Swirsky
New York City Department of Education, Region 6


Introduction | The Task | Teachers| The Process & Resources | Rubric| Conclusion | HyperText Dictionary

Introduction

This webquest was created as a result of an assignment from the course ECOMP 5022 Technology and Social Studies at Lesley University,
Professor Jo-Anne Hart. April 25, 2005.

'Brother can you spare a dime?'
Imagine living during the Great Depression. You and your group will take on the roles of people living during that time period. You will research primary resources of the era and gain a perspective of what life was like then. You will take on the roles of all the people that you have researched and write journal entries as if you were living back in the Great Depression. (*NOTE* All journal entries that are written as a person from that time period will be written in pen. All journal entries written from your perspective in pencil.) After creating your journal entries, you and your group will combine experiences and begin planning a play that shows what life was like during the Great Depression. Your script must follow the essential questions given to you by your teacher. Finally, you will perform a skit based on the lives of the people researched portraying what life was like during the Great Depression that will be video taped and edited with i-Movie software. (If you do not have an Apple computer with i-Movie software, Movie Maker on a Windows XP computer can used as a substitute.)

The Task

What was life like during the Great Depression?


The Process and Resources

In this WebQuest you will be working together with a group of 5 students in class. Each group will answer the Task, 'What was life like during the Great Depression?'. As a member of the group you will explore Webpages that include primary resources about The Great Depression. Because these are real Webpages we're tapping into, not things made just for schools, the reading level might challenge you. Feel free to use the online Webster dictionary or one in your classroom.

You'll begin with everyone in your group getting some background before dividing into roles where people on your team take on the roles of different people from that time period. After going through the background information all groups will go through the audio and written transcipt links and divide up (Each person in the group must have a unique person to research. Each person must reasearch at least 4 people.)


Here are your essential questions to focus in on while researching and writing in your journal:
Essential Questions:

*What was life like for people during the Great Depression?

*How did people cope during the Great Depression?

*After researching and getting a feeling of what a typical life was like, how is your life different?

*What sacrifices did people make during this time period?

*What were the causes of the Great Depression? Write these causes in your journal as if you read them in the newspaper or heard them on the radio and how they affect your everyday life as a person experiencing the Great Depression.

*What were the effects of the Great Depression? Write these effects in your journal as if you read them in the newspaper, heard them on the radio, discussed them with friends and family, and they affect your everyday life as a person experiencing the Great Depression.

*Do you think FDR handled the situation properly. Explain in your journal why or why not. How did his policies affect you and your family.

PROCESS
1. Read through the background links and keep a journal of your findings.
2. Note some causes and effects of the Great Depression in your journal
3. Visit the primary resource websites listed under Audio and Transcipt Interviews. While exploring, write journal entries taking on the role of the person telling their story. (Each person in the group must have a unique person to research. Each person must reasearch at least 4 people.)Everyone in the group must take on the role of FDR.
4. Visit the website that has FDR's first inaugural speech. (One person from your group should print it out.)
5. With your group visit the site that allows you to listen to FDR's speech.
6. Write a journal entry taking on the role of FDR the night before he will make his speech and what he mught be thinking.
7. Share and discuss your FDR journal with your group.
8. After researching, writing in your journal, and discussing your findings with your group you will begin planning your script for your role play assignment.

Phase 1 - Background: Something for Everyone

Use the Internet information linked below to gain background knowledge of the time period.

  • FDR Biography - Whithouse.gov gives a biography on FDR.
  • The History of Social Security - This site contains one of the largest and most extensive collections of history-related materials in the federal government. We present here both the institutional history of the Social Security Administration and the history of the Social Security program itself.
  • The New Deal - The New Deal Network, an educational guide to the Great Depression of the 1930s
  • FDR Political Cartoons - This site contains political cartoons from the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
  • Great Depression Photos - The library of congress has compiled photos of the great depression.
  • TimeLine of the era - The Great Depression and the New Deal: 1929-1939 Timeline and historical facts
  • New Deal Network - In October, 1996, the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute (FERI), in collaboration with the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library, Marist College, and IBM, launched the New Deal Network (NDN), a research and teaching resource on the World Wide Web devoted to the public works and arts projects of the New Deal. NDN is now based at the Institute for Learning Technologies (ILT) at Columbia University.
  • Timeline of FDR's Presidency - Timeline
  • The Great Depression: 1892 - 1933 - This site lists key definitions of the Great Depression, causes of the Great Depression, successes and failures of the Great Depression and much more useful information.
  • Timeline of the era - This site lists effects of the Great Depression
  • Stories and Recipes of the Great Depression - This site gives a brief introduction to the book.

Phase 2 - Looking Deeper from Different Perspectives

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Individuals from your larger WebQuest team will explore one of the roles below.

2. Read through the files linked to your group. If you print out the files, underline the passages that you feel are the most important. If you look at the files on the computer, copy sections you feel are important by dragging the mouse across the passage and copying / pasting it into a word processor or other writing software.

3. Note: Remember to write down or copy/paste the URL of the file you take the passage from so you can quickly go back to it if you need to to prove your point.

4. Be prepared to focus what you've learned into one main opinion that answers the Big Quest(ion) or Task based on what you have learned from the links for your role.

Audio Interviews and Speeches

Use the Internet information linked below to answer these questions specifically related to Audio Interviews and Speeches: After answering them, write an accurate account of your daily life including

1. What was life like for people during the Great Depression?

2. How did people cope during the Great Depression?

3. After researching and getting a feeling of what a typical life was like, how is your life different?

4. What sacrifices did people make during this time period?

5. What were the causes of the Great Depression? Write these causes in your journal as if you read them in the newspaper or heard them on the radio and how they affect your everyday life as a person experiencing the Great Depression.

6. What were the effects of the Great Depression? Write these effects in your journal as if you read them in the newspaper, heard them on the radio, discussed them with friends and family, and they affect your everyday life as a person experiencing the Great Depression.

  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt: First Inaugural Address - At this site you can hear FDR's speech
  • Surviving the Dust Bowl - Lured by the promise of rich, plentiful soil, thousands of settlers came to the Southern Plains, bringing farming techniques that worked well in the North and East. The farmers subsequently plowed millions of acres of grassland, only to have the rains stop in the summer of 1931. The catastrophic eight-year drought that followed led observers to rename the region 'The Dust Bowl.'
  • Studs Terkel - Voice recorded interviews with people who experienced the great depression.

Transcript Interviews

Use the Internet information linked below to answer these questions specifically related to Transcript Interviews:

1. What was life like for people during the Great Depression?

2. How did people cope during the Great Depression?

3. After researching and getting a feeling of what a typical life was like, how is your life different?

4. What sacrifices did people make during this time period?

5. What were the causes of the Great Depression? Write these causes in your journal as if you read them in the newspaper or heard them on the radio and how they affect your everyday life as a person experiencing the Great Depression.

6. What were the effects of the Great Depression? Write these effects in your journal as if you read them in the newspaper, heard them on the radio, discussed them with friends and family, and they affect your everyday life as a person experiencing the Great Depression.

7. (Answer this question after visiting the sites below) Now that you have gone through both audio and written transcript interviews, which one do you feel is a better primary resource and why? Write in your journal

  • We Made Due - 'We Made Do' is an on-going project of the students in Mooresville High School in Mooresville, Indiana. The project's focus is on the 1930's, the era of the Great Depression. It contains oral histories, period photographs and e-mailed contributions of viewers who have taken time to share their memories of living in this period of economic upheaval. This page is dedicated to that generation who were forged on the anvil of the Great Depression and then tempered and toughened by the bellows wind of World War II... an era that produced a remarkable group of humankind.
  • Hometown Children and the Depression - As students study letters in the Dear Mrs. Roosevelt feature, they will understand some of the problems faced by the children who wrote to Mrs. Roosevelt during the Depression. The feature text also emphasizes that Mrs. Roosevelt helped young people through various lobbying efforts and through her advocacy for the establishment of the National Youth Administration in 1935.
  • Voices from the Thirties - Life Histories from the Federal Writers' Project
  • American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writer's Project, 1936-1940 - These life histories were written by the staff of the Folklore Project of the Federal Writers' Project for the U.S. Works Progress (later Work Projects) Administration (WPA) from 1936-1940. The Library of Congress collection includes 2,900 documents representing the work of over 300 writers from 24 states. Typically 2,000-15,000 words in length, the documents consist of drafts and revisions, varying in form from narrative to dialogue to report to case history. The histories describe the informant's family education, income, occupation, political views, religion and mores, medical needs, diet and miscellaneous observations. Pseudonyms are often substituted for individuals and places named in the narrative texts.
  • Hard Times: Coping with Life during the Great Depression 1929-1941 - Hard Times: Coping with Life During the Great Depression (1929-1941) is designed to introduce students to the hardships of this time and help students understand the historical period. This is to be accomplished through an interview process which will allow the interviewee to tell his/her story of life during the depression. U.S. History students at Broome High School in Spartanburg, South Carolina have developed ten (10) questions that are to be used in the oral interview.

Government Documents

Use the Internet information linked below to answer these questions specifically related to Government Documents:

1. What parts of FDR's first inaugural speech directly affect you? Write in your journal.

Phase 3 - Debating, Discussing, and Reaching Consensus

You have all learned different people's perspective of The Great Depression. Now group members come back to the larger WebQuest team with expertise gained by searching from one perspective. You must all now answer the Task as a group. Each of you will bring a certain viewpoint to the answer: some of you will agree and others disagree. Use information, pictures, movies, facts, opinions, etc. from the Webpages you explored to convince your teammates that your viewpoint is important and should be part of your team's answer to the Task / Quest(ion). Your WebQuest team should write out an answer that everyone on the team can live with.

Phase 4 - Real World Feedback

You and your teammates have learned a lot by dividing up into different roles. Now's the time to put your learning into a role play you'll create for a video production.

You and your group will create a script based on the people that you met and became during your webquest. The role play must include what life was like for ordinary people during the Great Depression. Each skit must be at least 5 minutes in length and no more than 7 minutes. Make sure your skit touches on each answer given to the essential questions listed and all information gained in your webquest experience.

 

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Rubric

The Great Depression

Teacher Name: _______________________________________


Student Name:  _______________________________________

 

CATEGORY

4

3

2

1

Costumes

Makes excellent use of depicting the time period.

Makes good use of depicting the time period.

Makes some use of depicting the time period.

Makes no use of depicting the time period.

Permissions

All permissions to use graphics and music "borrowed" from web pages or scanned from books have been requested, received, printed and saved for future reference.

All permissions to use graphics and music "borrowed" from web pages or scanned from books have been requested and received.

Most permissions to use graphics and music "borrowed" from web pages or scanned from books have been requested and received.

Permissions were not requested for several graphics "borrowed" from web pages or scanned from books.

Content

Covers topic in-depth with details and examples. Subject knowledge is excellent.

Includes essential knowledge about the topic. Subject knowledge appears to be good.

Includes essential information about the topic but there are 1-2 factual errors.

Content is minimal OR there are several factual errors.

Organization

Content is well organized using titles and narration to group related material.

Uses titles,but the overall organization of topics appears flawed.

Content is logically organized for the most part.

There was no clear or logical organizational structure, just lots of facts.

Originality

Product shows a large amount of original thought. Ideas are creative and inventive.

Product shows some original thought. Work shows new ideas and insights.

Uses other people's ideas (giving them credit), but there is little evidence of original thinking.

Uses other people's ideas, but does not give them credit.

Workload

The workload is divided and shared equally by all team members.

The workload is divided and shared fairly by all team members, though workloads may vary from person to person.

The workload was divided, but one person in the group is viewed as not doing his/her fair share of the work.

The workload was not divided OR several people in the group are viewed as not doing their fair share of the work.

Movie Length

Five minutes long

Three minutes

Less than three minute

Less than two minutes

Background Abiant Music

3 excellent music or sound files included that show the feeling of the time period and piece

2 good music or sound files included that have feeling of the time period and piece

1 good music or sound files included that has feeling of the time period and piece

Little effort made

Journal Entries

(individual)

All journal entries were written properly according to WebQuest instructions

One to two journal entries were not completed correctly

More than 3 journal entries were not completed correctly

Little effort made

Group Work

(during WebQuest)

All discussions were held and based on discussions you're your research and journal entries a role play script was completed

Some problems arose during group work

Had more than a few issues during the group work

Little effort made

 

Date Created: Apr 20, 2005 11:32 am (CDT)

 

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Conclusion

The only way to truly understand a time period is to experience it. With history, it is obviously impossible to experience the past. The best way to get a feel for it is to access primary resources. Different people experience the same things in many different ways. Viewing primary documents, and taking on the roles of FDR and ordinary citizens during the Great Depression has hopefully opened your eyes to what life was like during the Great Depression.

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Teachers

Grade target: 10th grade    

Subject: The Great Depression     

Unit: WWII

Objectives

During this lesson, students will:

1. Develop the proper analytical skills to understand what life was like during the Great Depression by reading, listening and interpreting primary resources of the Great Depression.

2. Identify perspective in primary sources and discuss how interpretation affects popular

understanding of an event, time, or place.

3. Use critical thinking skills, learn to conduct research through teamwork, and develop their listening, note-taking, and journal entry skills.

4. Transform learning into first-hand accounts in a role play.

(some objectives listed here were adapted from

 

What should students know and be able to do? 

Students will research primary resources from various Internet websites in order to get an understanding of what life was like during the Great Depression. During their research, they will complete many tasks that will build upon their understanding of the time period. From their research they will compare and contrast people's experiences and put themselves in their place to actually experience what life was like.

 

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New York State Standards

Social Studies

Standard 1

Knows different types of primary and secondary sources and the motives, interests, and bias expressed in them (e.g., eyewitness accounts, letters, diaries, artifacts, photos; magazine articles, newspaper accounts, hearsay)

Social Studies

Standard 26:

Understands the social and economic impact of the Great Depression (e.g., the impact of the depression on industry and workers; the response of local and state officials in combating the resulting economic and social crises; the effects of the depression on American families and on ethnic and racial minorities; the effect on gender roles; the victimization of African Americans and white sharecroppers)

Understands renewed efforts to protect the environment during the Great Depression and their success in places such as the Dust Bowl and the Tennessee Valley

English Language Arts

Standard 1

Students will read, write, listen, and speak for information and understanding.

As listeners and readers, students will collect data, facts, and ideas, discover relationships, concepts, and generalizations; and use knowledge generated from oral, written, and electronically produced texts. As speakers and writers, they will use oral and written language to acquire, interpret, apply, and transmit information.

Standard 4

Students will read, write, listen, and speak for social interaction.

Students will use oral and written language for effective social communication with a wide variety of people. As readers and listeners, they will use the social communications of others to enrich their understanding of people and their views.

 


What are the essential understandings?

Students will need to know how to access Great Depression primary resources, compare and contrast people's experiences, and access government documents from archived sites Based on all primary resource information researched and discussed the students will look at the causes and effects of the Great Depression and then create a script based on all their primary resources in order to construct a play about the era. The play will be recorded and edited with I-Movie software.

How will the teacher and they know when they are successful?

Having students' research primary resources is an exciting way for them to fully understand a time period. I feel that they will feel successful with the first resource they come across. Exploration and discovery is such a motivational teaching tool. After exploring and putting the pieces of the puzzle together they will construct a script that explains how the Great Depression happened, how people experienced it, how our government helped solve it and the long term effects of it. Their ultimate success will be compiled into a role play skit to be video taped and edited with i-Movie software

What evidence will show that the students understand?                                 

After the first few days of researching with their group of six, they will take on the roles of all the people that they researched and write a journal entry as if they were living back in the Great Depression. After creating their journal entries the groups will combine their experiences and begin their script. Their script must follow the essential questions given to them by the teacher. Finally, they will perform a skit based on the lives of the people researched portraying what life was like during the Great Depression.

What learning experiences will facilitate their success?

Finding primary resources like letters, voice interviews, and historical documents will help facilitate their success.


  Content by Michael Swirsky, mswirsky@martinswirsky.com
This webquest was created and adapted from Filamentality at http://www.kn.sbc.com/wired/fil/
Last revised Mon Apr 25 5:27:56 US/Pacific 2005

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