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Found Poetry with Primary Sources: The Great Depression

Library of Congress/Alison Westfall and Laura Mitchell

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This resource was reviewed by OSPI in Spring 2015. Learn more about the review process and the data analysis approach.

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.

EQuIP (Learn more)

Not ready for review (2.8)
Chart with scale of 'meets criteria' from 0 (None) to 3 (All). Alignment: 1.25, Key Shifts in the CCSS: 0.5, Instructional Supports: 0.75, Assessment: 0.25.

Achieve OER (Learn more)

Chart with scale from 0 (Weak) to 3 (Superior). Explanation: 1.0, Interactivity: , Exercises: 0.75, Deeper Learning: 1.33.

See standard error chart for the review scoring

Reviewer Comments (Learn more)

Moderate (2.5)

Strengths/Ideal Use:

Ideal use would be in an ELA/History block with American history as a focus. After poetry has been extensively read and analyzed.

Students are exposed to documents grounded in American history and building knowledge through content-rich non-fiction.


  • Too many resources — this activity links to over 2800 texts for students to sort through.
  • Too broad — activity is targeted for grades 6-12. Does not specifically address any standards.
  • Assessment — the student poems are assessed on skills that are presumed to have be taught/learned and are not actually taught in this lesson.
  • Silos of learning — writing appears to be taught in isolation. Reading/writing/speaking and listening are not integrated.


  • Narrow the focus. Provide links to specific texts related to high-interest content or texts within text complexity bands.
  • Target specific grade(s). Target specific standards. This activity lends itself to W6-8.4, W7.7, RI7.3, RI7.4, RI7.6, RI7.7, and RI7.9. With revision, this activity could be brought into alignment with CCSS.
  • By narrowing the focus in the readings, and teaching elements to use in the poem, and then assessing the use of those elements, the assessment in this activity could be improved.
  • Integrate R/W/SL.

Strengths/Ideal Use:

Ideal use for this resource is an experienced ELA or Social Studies teacher familiar with the historical significance of the primary sources. Good resources for multiple perspectives.


  • Hits very few CCSS — primary sources are very good resource, but not much guidance given on how to use them.
  • Centers on U.S.Hisory-Civil War era and Depression era.

Strengths/Ideal Use:

Many valuable resources are at the fingertips for teachers. This is very high level for a very experienced teacher.


  • Objectives are vague and unmeasurable e.g. "Appreciate and recognize the elements of poetry..."
  • CCSS are not specifically stated.
  • Recommended Grade Level 6-8 but Lexile levels are missing for each piece of text and front loading of this historical information needs to occur.


  • This is very vague. Be specific of which CCSS this unit targets.
  • Include a Lexile level or Flesch-Kincaid level so teachers can match text to task on the DOK.
  • Provide literacy based activities and/or reading strategies to use while reading the texts to hold thinking.

Strengths/Ideal Use:

With adaptations, this unit is best used in an integrated ELA/Social Studies classroom by a competent ELA instructor.

The primary source documents provide a novel opportunity to learn about a period of time through the eyes of an actual person. There is a wide collection of primary sources on the Library of Congress website.


  • Lack of purposeful ELA instruction and assessment
  • No explicit instruction for poetic elements, analytic/close reading, or writing


  • Add instructional notes detailing what reading and writing skills to teach and when, and how to best assess them (rubrics), both formatively and summatively.

Creative Commons License
This work by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.