Students view photographs of migrant families during the Great Depression, try to interpret the photos to answer questions about the subject’s life, and then write a cinquain poem based on their interpretations.
photographs, Great Depression, poetry
Getting information from the Internet often is just a copy and paste operation. The challenge for teachers is to teach students to apply and extend what they learn online. In this lesson, students view photographs of migrant families during the Great Depression, try to interpret the photos to answer questions about the subject's life, and then write a cinquain poem based on their interpretations.
Prior to this lesson, students should have a basic understanding of the Great Depression and the subsequent displacement of families in search of work and better farmland.
Begin this activity with a brief class discussion of the Great Depression, particularly focusing on how it impacted families. Then, using a projector or TV monitor, display the photos of a migrant mother from the Library of Congress collection America from the Great Depression to World War II: Photographs from the FSA-OWI, 1935-1945. Encourage students to look carefully at the photo and share their observations about the mother. Some questions students might consider include:
Share the quote from the photographer Dorothea Lange in which she describes taking the photograph and provides background information about the life of the mother and her family.
Have students choose their own favorite photograph from the collection, reflect on the life of the subject(s) pictured, and write a cinquain poem that expresses what they see in the photograph.
Even if students never have written a cinquain poem before, the process is quite simple. A cinquain poem contains five lines:
- The first line is one noun that describes the topic.
- The second line is two adjectives that describe the topic.
- The third line is three verbs ending in ing that further describe the topic.
- The fourth line is a phrase (not a sentence) that describes the topic.
- The fifth line is another noun that describes the topic.
Provide students with the following directions:
AssessmentStudents will be evaluated on their ability to complete project based upon teacher observation and on their knowledge of the Great Depression based upon the poem's content.
Lesson Plan Source
FINE ARTS: Visual Arts
GRADES 5 - 8
NA-VA.5-8.4 Understanding the Visual Arts In Relation to History and Cultures
NA-VA.5-8.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
GRADES 9 - 12
NA-VA.9-12.4 Understanding the Visual Arts In Relation to History and Cultures
NA-VA.9-12.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
SOCIAL SCIENCES: U.S. History
GRADES 5 - 12
8: The Great Depression and World War II (1929-1945)