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Great Depression Gallery Walk

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Keywords: great depression, gallery walk, primary sources
Subject(s): Social Studies, Writing, History, Reading, English/Language Arts
Grades 9 through 12
NETS-S Standard:
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Research and Information Fluency
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
View Full Text of Standards
School: Edgewater High School, Orlando, FL
Planned By: Rachel Smith
Original Author: Rachel Smith, Orlando
Objectives: SS.912.A.5.11 - The student will be able to examine causes, course, and consequences of the Great Depression and the New Deal.

Day 1: Scrutinize the Fundamental Source: Students will preview each image by clicking through the gallery on this website. Alternatively, teachers may print out each image and create a traditional gallery walk.
FSA Image One: "Negro tenant family who barely lives on the earnings of fifty dollars a year."
FSA Image Two: "White migrant worker living in camp with two other migrant men"
FSA Image Three: "While the mothers are working in the fields, the preschool children of migrant families are cared for in the nursery school under trained teachers"
FSA Image Four: "Seven hungry children."
FSA Image Five: "Negro tenant farmer"
FSA Image Six: "Stripping and grading tobacco"
WPA Image Seven: Grand Canyon
WPA Image Eight: Civilian Conservation Corps
WPA Image Nine: "The Federal Negro Theater"
WPA Image Ten: Brookside Zoo
WPA Image Eleven: Vacation Reading Club
WPA Image Twelve: Free English Classes

Day 1: Organize Thoughts: Students will record their observations and impressions of each image on the Library of Congress Primary Source Analysis Tool. Here is a link to the teacher's guide for the Primary Source Analysis Tool.

Day 2: Understand the Context: Students will navigate to the following webpages:
The Oklahoma Historical Society
The Library of Congress Background and Scope of the FSA Collection
The Library of Congress Background and Scope of the WPA Poster Collection

Day 2: Read Between the Lines: Students will answer the following questions, either individually or in small groups.
1) Describe the FSA.
2) What were goals of the FSA?
3) Why did the FSA establish a photography program?
4) Did the FSA achieve its goals? Why or why not?
5) Do you think that aid to farmers is still necessary today? Why or why not?
6) Describe the WPA.
7) What were the goals of the WPA? Did the the WPA achieve its goals? Why or why not?
8) Why did the WPA support arts programs?
9) What methods were used to create the WPA posters?
10) What was the purpose of the poster program?
11) Which program was more successful, the WPA or the FSA? Why?
12) Why do you think that race is usually mentioned in the descriptions of FSA photographs?

Day 3: Corroborate and Refute: Students will select one image that they like the best. They may work individually or in small groups of students who have selected the same image. Students must research the individual and/or program depicted in their image. What was the purpose of this image? Who was the photographer or artist? What ideas was the photographer or artist trying to convey? How do you know? What happened to individuals in that community during the Great Depression? What is that community like today? Is that program part of a modern initiative, or did it end after WWII?

Day 4: Establish a Plausible Narrative: Students will write a personal journal entry, that is at LEAST one page long, for the image selected. Imagine that you are participating in the WPA program, or that you are one of the people in the FSA photo. Why are you there? What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? Who is around you? Are you alone or with somebody else? See this scoring rubric for writing and mechanics requirements.

Day 5: Summarize Final Thoughts: Students will read their journal entry to the class. If they are working in small groups, they may act out a skit using props or other resources. After all students have presented, lead a class discussion and debriefing on the Great Depression and the presentations.

ESOL/ESE Accommodations: Since this lesson features images and graphic organizers, it is perfect for English Language Learners. You may want to provide sentence starters or sentence stems for the diary entry, depending on the students' language skills.

Assessment: The diary entry assignment is designed to be a summative assessment; the Library of Congress Primary Source Analysis Tool is a formative assessment.

Additional Resources & Extensions: Students may select their own images from the LOC collections rather than using the pre-selected images on the website. The WPA posters are here, and the FSA photographs are here. Additional ideas include students creating their own WPA posters or recreating FSA photographs.
Please follow the link to the website for all lesson resources
Links: Link to Lesson Resources
Materials: Projectors, Projector Screens, Worksheets