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The Migrant Experience
California  1930-1940


This unit will focus on the migrant workersí experiences in California during the 1930ís.    Students will explore pictures, first-hand accounts of daily life, sound files, and historical documents of The Library of Congressís American Memory Collection.  As they learn about migrant workers through these primary sources they will better understand the economic and social impact of the Great Depression and the many challenges faced by migrant workers from Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri.  The students will also consider immigrants in our community and begin to understand some of the present-day difficulties they face.

South Carolina Curriculum Standards
Click the South Carolina flag to see the language arts and social studies standards that will be addressed.


Goal/Theme for the Lesson

The hardships experienced by migrant workers in California in the 1930's are not unlike those experienced by immigrants today in our own community of Greenville, South Carolina.


 1.       Students will compile a list of new vocabulary words about migrant workers from the picture/information book Migrant Worker: A Boy From the Rio Grande Valley.  They will group similar words together and label the groups.

 2.       Students will use various pre-reading strategies of the Scaffolding Reading Experience and the survey technique to read the article Photographer:  Dorothea Lange, Migrant Workers in the Imperial Valley, California, 1937, from the Library of Congress American Memory site.  They will conclude by writing a two-minute news report for the 6:30 evening news as if they were living during the 1930's, drawing attention to the injustices and hardships suffered by the people in Dorothea Lange's article.

3.       Students will complete a graphic organizer about the Arvin Migratory Labor Camp in the San Joaquin Valley in central California.  They will read a short description of the Arvin camp from the Library of Congress American Memory site to guide them in their research.

4.       Students will work in groups to complete a WebQuest, where they will examine a variety of pictures from the 1930's in California and the Midwest as if it were their own great-grandparents in the pictures.

Instructional Plan/Cycle 

The 8-day plan for the unit is outlined--click on the picture to see the full plan.  It includes:    PowerPoint presentation ppt,    PowerPoint presentation html,     Inspiration Map,     WebQuest

1)  Students will take notes on the PowerPoint presentation, using the slide sheet/note sheet provided,  and circle the keywords, both from the slides and from their notes.  These sheets  will be turned in to the teacher to check for completion.
2)  A rubric will be used to assess the 2-minute speech for the evening news.
3)  A Hot Potatoes quiz will be given for students to self-assess their understanding of the migrant worker experience, before they begin the WebQuest.
4)  A rubric will be used to assess both group and independent writing done for the WebQuest.
5)  A guide sheet will be completed and turned in as a part of the WebQuest.

Materials Needed
Colored paper for vocabulary lists
PowerPoint slides printed out with note taking feature
Inspiration map printed out
Dorothea Lange article printed out in one column, one column for notes
Graphic organizer for Arvin Migratory Labor Camp article

Dorothea Lange (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists series), by Mike Venezia,
    Children's Press, New York, 2000.
Migrant Worker: A Boy from the Rio Grande Valley, by Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith, Holiday
    House, New York, 1996.

Reflection on Teaching
This unit provides middle school students with a variety of learning experiences.  Among these are:


League Academy

Greenville, SC  29609

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Patty Bynum
Media Specialist
League Academy
Greenville, SC  29609