Teaching American History Project Lesson
  Jane Wolf

Author: Jane Wolf

Unit Title: America: the Years Between the Wars

Lesson Title: 1920s Scrapbook

Subject: American History

Level: 11th Grade

Length of Lesson: One block class period of 105 minutes

 

Introduction:
This unit will focus not only on historical events of the 1920s and 30s, but also on the resulting literature, music, art and social history of this time period. By examining the popular culture of this time period, students can gain insight into what people were interested in at the time and what was important to them. Once students realize that History is about people not unlike themselves, they will become more interested in it. This lesson will be the first one in the unit and will provide a good introduction to the first decade of the period, the 1920s. Later lessons will focus on the movies that were produced by Hollywood during the 1930s and the Harlem Renaissance.

This lesson will introduce students to the 1920s and the beginning of the years between the wars. Students will use a computer lab or the computers in the school library to gather primary sources on different aspects of the 1920s. They will be gathering examples of technology, fashion, poetry, music, people, art, sports, major events and architecture from the time period. This will introduce them to a wide variety of social history from the 1920s. The 1920s are often viewed through a rather narrow landscape as a time of prosperity and the jazz age. One aspect of this lesson is to let them see the decade from a broader point of view.

Students will make their own 1920s scrapbook for this lesson. The students will pick the documents used. After being given a framework and the websites that they should use, it will be up to each student to pick exactly which documents they want to use for their scrapbook. They will be picking their favorite technology, poems, artwork, music ect. for their scrapbooks. There is also a research component to this lesson plan. Students will be expected to pick one famous person from the 20s and devote a page to this person. They may end up researching more than one person as they decide which one to include in their scrapbook. Students will also be picking a major event for their book. Some examples of what they may pick are the Scopes Monkey Trial or the Sacco and Vanzetti case. Once again, they will probably research more than one event before they make their choice. Through their research and examining different documents from the time period, students will gain a broad understanding of many different aspects of the 1920s, not just the jazz culture and the prosperity that took place.

 

Objectives:
Students will be able to evaluate the music, poetry and literature of the 1920s
Students will be able to identify important people of the 1920s
Students will be able to compare the accomplishments of important people of the 1920s
Students will be able to analyze which events of the 1920s were the most important
Students will be able to explain why an event of the 1920s was important
Students will be able to synthesize information presented in documents from the 1920s.

 

Nevada State Standards

History Standard 2.0: History Skills: Students will use social studies vocabulary and concepts to engage in inquiry, in research, in analysis, and in decision making.
Benchmark 2.8.2 Evaluate sources of historical information based on: bias, credibility
cultural context, reliability

History Standard 8.0: The Twentieth Century, a Changing World: 1920 to 1945: Students understand the importance and effect of political, economic, technological, and social changes in the world from 1920 to 1945.
Benchmark 8.12.2 Analyze the effects on society of new technologies of this era including communication, transportation and manufacturing.
Benchmark 8.12.3 Examine social tensions in the postwar era, including: Radical politics, immigration restrictions, and racism
Benchmark 8.12.4 Analyze how cultural developments in the arts, education, media, and leisure activities reflected and changed United States Society.

 

In Class Student Activities:

Introduction: 20 minutes -This lesson will begin with an activity that uses slang of the 1920s. The following terms will be used in the activity:
• All Wet - Describes an erroneous idea or individual, as in, "he's all wet."
• Bee's Knees - An extraordinary person, thing, idea; the ultimate.
• Big Cheese - The most important or influential person; boss. Same as big shot.
• Darb - An excellent person or thing (as in "the Darb" - a person with money who can be relied on to pay the check).
• Flapper - A stylish, brash, hedonistic young woman with short skirts and shorter hair.
• Giggle Water - An intoxicating beverage; alcohol.
• High-Hat - To snub.
• Hooch - Bootleg liquor
• Jalopy - Old car.
• Keen - Attractive or appealing.
• Speakeasy - An illicit bar selling bootleg liquor.
• Spiffy - An elegant appearance.

Before class, write just the terms on the board or on an overhead, not the definitions. Have students write a paragraph using the slang terms. Tell them that it is okay if they do not know the meanings, just use them in a way that makes sense to them. It is helpful if you model this activity as long as your paragraph does not signal the correct meaning of the terms. After they have written their paragraphs, put up the meanings of the words, and then have several students read their paragraphs. Tell them they will use this paragraph and the slang as the first page of a 1920s scrapbook that they are to compile.

Ask students what they already know about the twenties and make a list on the board. Responses that you will probably get are flappers, jazz, automobiles, Henry Ford, The Great Gatsby, etc. This should take about 15 minutes.

Have the students organize the list by clustering the different categories. These categories should be technology, literature, music, sports, people, events, fashion, entertainment and art This should take about 5 minutes. If they do not come up with all the categories, add them yourself.

For the next hour of class, students will go to a media center to work on compiling information for their scrapbooks. They will be given the following assignment:
Today we will be going to the computer lab to gather information on a variety of topics to be included in a 1920s scrapbook. Your scrapbook must have 10 pages. The first one we have already started in class. It is a page on slang from the 1920s. The topics for the other nine pages are: technology, literature, music, sports, people, events, fashion, entertainment and art. You only need to pick one item to focus on for each page. For instance, for your technology page, you could concentrate on technological advances made for the automobile. Each page will need some kind of visual whether you draw it yourself or print it out from one of your websites. Each page will also need a caption that is at least a paragraph of explanation. On the pages that present your person and event, you will need to have at least a two-paragraph summary of why you picked the person and event. At the bottom of each page, you will need to cite the website from which you got your information. Your task is to gather all your material for your scrapbook. The following websites are all good choices for you to start your research:

This website is a general website for 1920s information:
http://www.angelfire.com/co/pscst/index.html

This is a 1920s fashion website:
http://www.rambova.com/fashion/fash4.html

This website features the Jazz age: Flapper culture and style:
http://www.geocities.com/flapper_culture/

This site has U.S. cultural history 1920s
http://kclibrary.nhmccd.edu/decade20.html#music

This site has authentic U.S. history of the twenties1920s
http://www.authentichistory.com/1920s.html

General site/slang
http://www.geocities.com/MotorCity/Lane/6341/History/Roaring20s.html

Sports website
http://www.sportplanet.com/sbb/apfas/20R.HTM

Great fashion site
http://www.costumes.org/history/100pages/timelinepages/1920s1.htm

This site has 1920s music
http://www.bestwebs.com/roaring1920/

General 1920s website
http://www.besthistorysites.net/USHistory_Roaring20s.shtml

During the time in the media center teacher will monitor student progress and help those that may be challenged by the assignment.

Return to class and check that everyone has done their work.

Assign the actual making of the scrapbook as homework.

 

Extended Enrichment Activities:
Have students find a biography or an autobiography of the person that they picked for their scrapbook and write a book report on it.

Have each student compile 10 questions from their scrapbook (one from each page) and turn them in. Formulate a scavenger hunt by displaying the scrapbooks around the room and picking questions that students have to find the answers to in the scrapbooks.

 

Materials List:
For this assignment you will need to make overheads of the slang and the definitions.
copies of the assignment above with the websites to hand out to students

A list of all the people, events, technology, literature, music, art, fashion, sports and entertainment that you want covered in step #2 of the lesson.

various art supplies like glue sticks and markers so students may start the scrapbooks during class time.

 

Evaluation /Assessment:
The students will be evaluated on the scrapbooks that they turn in the following class period. They will be assessed on how well they have analyzed and explained their choices for their books in the captions.

 

Bibliography/Citation:
The following websites were used in planning and will be used by the students for this lesson:

This website is a general website for 1920s information:
http://www.angelfire.com/co/pscst/index.html

This is a 1920s fashion website:
http://www.rambova.com/fashion/fash4.html

This website features the Jazz age: Flapper culture and style:
http://www.geocities.com/flapper_culture/

This site has U.S. cultural history 1920s
http://kclibrary.nhmccd.edu/decade20.html#music

This site has authentic U.S. history of the twenties1920s
http://www.authentichistory.com/1920s.html

General site/slang
http://www.geocities.com/MotorCity/Lane/6341/History/Roaring20s.html

Sports website
http://www.sportplanet.com/sbb/apfas/20R.HTM

Great fashion site
http://www.costumes.org/history/100pages/timelinepages/1920s1.htm

This site has 1920s music
http://www.bestwebs.com/roaring1920/

General 1920s website
http://www.besthistorysites.net/USHistory_Roaring20s.shtml