Note that this resource was reviewed during the Spring 2014 review period. The resource may or may not have been updated since the review. Check with the content creator to see if there is a more recent version available.
Public Domain lesson plans/ digitized collections vary
Note: clarification provided via email from Steven Wesson 4/4/2013
Format and Features
Resource is Printable
Note: CCSS correlation information available for grades 11-12
Professional development is available. Learn more about it here
The Library of Congress has extensive print and online professional development facilitation materials as well as self-directed multimedia modules and webinar options. Also available are teacher
Background from OER Project Review Team
The Library of Congress is the nation's oldest federal cultural institution and serves as the research arm of Congress. The Library of Congress offers classroom materials and professional development to help teachers effectively use primary sources from the Library's vast digital collections in their teaching.
Having students analyze photos as texts is a skill that critical for a complete literacy development and critical in social studies, this piece of the unit was particularly useful; however, it would have been more useful if it had been better connected to the actual text being studied.
This unit if modified, could be used in any classroom. The text is most often used in the 11th grade, but with CCSS may be used in the 9th grade. Using visuals and connecting them to the text will be most helpful to ELA and SPED students in understanding literary symbols in a new way. A beginning teacher will have some difficulty with this unit as the instructions are not always clear and an advanced teacher may not use it because the questions do not tie it to advancing the understanding of the text.
Although the lessons ask students to utilize quotes from the text it is not directly for the purpose of understanding the text itself. The students are doing some interesting exploration of cultural artifacts, but there is no clear tie to how they are grappling with the Grapes of Wrath and gaining a better understanding of the text itself through understanding these cultural artifacts.
Rubric is a checklist of standards.
As one of the goals of the unit is to show the cultural artifacts acts as literary symbols, it might be more appropriate to delve into the text looking for cultural artifacts and marry those in a visual presentation to help students better understand the text and the writer’s intent in using the particular cultural artifact.
Rubrics need to be fully developed into a criteria based rubric rather than a checklist that aligns to the standards being assessed.
These lessons are valuable in supplementing the novel, The Grapes of Wrath, and in teaching CCSS ELA standards. The required research and primary source analysis strongly support Reading Anchor Standards 7 and 9 and Writing 7, 8, and 9. The assessments also support Speaking and Listening 4,5,6 and Writing 6. The Primary Source Analysis Tool and the Guide to Analyzing Photographs and Prints are effective in building critical analysis and research skills. The supplemental material on Ethnography Field Collections and the project in developing a Museum Collection will be engaging for students and build their understanding of the context of the time period and, specifically, the novel. Teacher implementation of this resource will determine the depth of analysis but it provides the opportunity for in-depth critical analysis.
This unit would be appropriate for middle and high school students who have read or are reading The Grapes of Wrath. Parts of it could easily be adapted for social studies students studying the Dust Bowl and Great Depression. Teachers of all skill level can present this unit with time for preparation. To be completed as it is written, students will need computer and Internet access, preferably one to one but it could be done one to two are small group. Teachers could adapt the unit in a on computer classroom as a whole-class project.
Assessment criteria and scoring - the criteria for the activities are general or not given at all. No scoring guides or rubrics are given.
Add stronger criteria and rubrics.
This is a unit that belongs in a course that combines 11th grade US History and American Literature. Students read The Grapes of Wrath and then work with the text and primary sources to make connections. Effort is made to have students look closely at the text. The primary sources are plentiful and engaging.
There is very little "support" for struggling learners.
The writing assigned is minimal.
There are no rubrics or assessments to check for learning.
The unit is designed to meet Common Core Standards for the 11th grade, not grades 9 or 10.
Create a variety of rubrics to assess learning of the targeted standards.
This is an innovative lesson that has the potential to help students develop critical thinking skills. The fact that students are searching a database for primary resources makes it especially engaging.
These lessons require access to the internet and the ability to print artifacts. An experienced teacher would have the most success with this resource because the lessons do not include instructions for what teachers need to do. Directions like "Have students write a museum-like caption for each artifact" leave many questions. What does a museum-like artifact look like? (that is not explicitly provided). The teacher would also have to be familiar with how to search databases. A link to the Library of Congresses' American Memory page is given but there are no suggestions that teacher would have to explain how to select search terms or model a search. In the hands of a teacher with experience searching archives, the lessons have the potential to be especially effective for language learners and lower readers. The lessons ask students to make connections between literature and other texts like pictures and other artifacts.
Alignment to RL.7 - The lesson gives students opportunities to sift through photographs and other artifacts that represent ideas in the text in a different medium. Students are asked to find artifacts that represent ideas, character, images and/or themes in The Grapes of Wrath.
The lesson provides an opportunity for deeper learning. The assessment asks students to create a museum exhibit that relates to one of the themes in The Grapes of Wrath.
Lacks specific directions for teachers which might lead to shallow interpretation of the assignment.
Teachers might not know how to evaluate the assessments – no rubric.
Not enough emphasis placed on close reading - the lesson instructs students to "have students analyze photos" but there is no instruction given for how to do that analysis. A primary source tool is given but no example of what it would look like if thoughtfully completed.
Develop more specific instructions. In the given example teachers need to require students to provide specific examples from the text. Develop rubrics to evaluate the assessments.
Break this lesson down into steps and provide examples of what a thoughtfully completed primary source analysis tool would look like. Students need to be explicitly taught how do engage in close reading of a visual text.