Saint Vincent College professor Timothy Kelly discusses economic suffering during the Great Depression. Saint Vincent College is located in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.
This lesson plan opens with a reflective question that asks students to consider the role of government of supporting those in need. Students then watch, analyze, and respond to two introductory video clips that present an overview of the economy and living conditions during the Great Depression. Next, students engage in an engagement activity, where they view four video clips that detail comprehensive aspects of the New Deal Subsistence Homestead Program. Students then engage in a choice board activity, choosing to study two of seven specific aspects of life of the Westmoreland, Pennsylvania (PA) subsistence homestead community (now known as Norvelt). After viewing and responding to the video clips for their selected topics, students then view four additional clips with supplementary and reflective information about the impact of Norvelt. The lesson concludes with a summative writing prompt.
This lesson offers several options for you to use with your students whether you are teaching in class, using a hybrid model, or engaging through distance learning. It can be completed in steps as a class or students can move at their own pace and complete the activities independently.
You can post links to the videos in the lesson along with the related handouts and engage in discussion to share responses on a discussion board or learning management system.
You can also save and share the following Google resources for students to use with this lesson.
Handout: Graphic Organizer (Google Doc).
Handout: Choice Board (Google Slides).
In Google, choose "File" then "Make a Copy" to get your own copy. You can make any needed adjustments in the instructions such as which activities students need to complete, when it is due, etc. and then make it available to them via Google.
Pose the following brainstorming question to your students, directing them to record their responses in their graphic organizer, share with a partner, and then with the class if they choose.
Play the two following introductory video clips for your students. Direct your students to answer the following questions on their graphic organizer and share their findings with a partner, small group, or the class when finished. Note: each clip features Saint Vincent College professor Timothy Kelly. Saint Vincent College is located in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.
Clip #1: The Great Depression (2:41).
Clip #2: The Human Experience (2:19).
Direct your students to their graphic organizers to view and define the vocabulary terms that will appear in the lesson in the chart in their graphic organizer handout. The vocabulary words are also listed to the right on this webpage. We recommend having your students define and present the terms in a jigsaw activity to save time.
Depending on time and resources, you may consider having your students define and present the terms in a Frayer's Model activity, where each student takes one or two items. Students can then post their models around the room for reference throughout the lesson. Note: This is not an all-encompassing list of terms included in each video. We recommend you previewing the video clips to determine any necessary additions/subtractions to this list for your specific students.
Direct students to the engagement section of their graphic organizers. Instruct your students to view the four video clips, take notes, and answer the related questions in their graphic organizers. Direct your students to share their findings with a partner, small group, or the class when finished.
Clip #3: The Subsistence Homestead Program (3:13).
Clip #4: The Communities (5:52).
Clip #5: A Cooperative Ethos (1:49).
Clip #6: Why Westmoreland County? (6:29).
The Westmoreland subsistence homestead community (later known as Norvelt) is located five miles from Saint Vincent College. In the clips of this section of the lesson, Saint Vincent College professor Timothy Kelly describes life for individuals living in the community during the Great Depression.
Have your students access the Choice Board (Google Slides) and preview the directions. Direct your students to choose two of the seven topics (or you can assign the topics) listed on the choice board to complete, view the videos, and answer the related questions.
Then, have your students complete the writing exercise on the last slide and prepare to share their findings with the class. Students should respond to the following questions: 1.) Which topics did you study?, 2.) Why did you choose these topics?, 3.) What did you learn?, 4.) What impact did your topics have on the lives of individuals in the community?, and 5.) What questions do you have?
Finally, lead the class in a jigsawed share-out, so that each student can record the answers to the questions in all seven sections.
Clip #7: Mapping the Area (2:54).
Clip #8: Yards and Property (4:11).
Clip #9: House Models (5:13).
Clip #10: The Town (3:22).
Clip #11: Community and Government (4:06).
Clip #12: Agriculture (3:19).
Clip #13: Employment (3:05).
Allow time for your students to prepare and share their findings from the application section of the lesson with the class. Then, direct your students to view the following four clips that offer reflective thoughts.
Have your students record their notes and answers to the questions in their graphic organizers and share with a partner, small group, or the class.
Clip #14: Compared to Coal Patch Homes (5:47).
Clip #15: Strict Rules (1:58).
Clip #16: A New Name (1:28).
Clip #17: Was Norvelt Successful? (6:49).
After your students are finished with the reflective clips, direct them to complete the final culminating writing prompt in their graphic organizers, and have students share their responses, comparing their perspectives with their classmates' perspectives: Having now learned about the Great Depression-era Subsistence Homestead Program, describe its impact and legacy. Be sure to include evidence from the video clips in the lesson to support your argument.