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Homeless and Migrant in the Depression: Reflections on Of Mice and Men

Last Updated: May-05-2010

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Developed By

  Monette & Voakes (Monkes)
Ken Voakes
Michael Monette

Lesson Title

  Homeless and Migrant in the Depression: Reflections on Of Mice and Men

Length of Lesson

  4-5 50 minute class periods

Lesson Unit

  American Literature-Great Depression, Migrant workers, Dust Bowl






  Literature and Culture

Grade 2


Subject 2


Strand 2

  Reading, Listening, and Viewing

Michigan Content Expectations

  1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 2.3, 3.1, 3.2, 3.4, 4.1


  Steinbeck, John; Great Depression; Dust Bowl; Migrant workers; Mental Illness; Lennie; George;



1.  Computer with Internet access, Microsoft Publisher and Word.

2.  Weebly or Blackboard account to access introductory assignment.

3.  Newspaper assignment link

4.  Project Rubric link







This lesson will form the introductory and culminating project for previous discussions regarding migrant wokers, the Dust Bowl, and the Great Depression of the 1930s.  This lesson focuses on the following themes:  Understanding Human Nature: Coping with Crisis, Chaos, and Change and The DNA of Survival.  Students will work in groups of four to create a 1930's newspaper dealing with the above topics as they relate to the characters and plot of Of Mice and Men, after they've done research introducing concepts presented in the novel.



Big Idea(s)


The Great Depression was a time of tremendous uncertainty, worry, and upheaval for the American public.  Virtually all social classes were affected as the economy plummetted and workers were left without jobs, forcing them to move elsewhere searching for ways to support their families.


Essential Questions


Can students understand how the Dust Bowl affected people / the economy?

Can students empathize with was life like for people living in labor camps?

Can students relate to the situation of the migrant homeless?

Can students relate to the perspectives of the characters in the novel?





Learning Objectives


1.  Research and analyze information relating to the Great Depression, Dust Bowl, and Migrant Workers.

2.  Form opinions in the form of editorials relating to the above topics and the novel.

3.  Extend ideas and opinions into various media including editorial and political cartoons.



Summative Assessment





 ***Rubric for assessment on website  http://monkes.weebly.com/  ***

The Basics:

You are about to begin your research project.  This IS a group assignment and you must work diligently with your group to be successful on this project.

As discussed in class, this project entails you to create a newspaper from the Great Depression era.  What events were taking place?  Where are you writing this paper from (i.e. city)?  These are just some of the questions that need to be considered when writing the newspaper.  Look for sample newspapers from this time period on the Internet.  The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times have archived their papers online.  You should be able to pull them up to view.

You should divide and conquer this project with the other group members.  Again, if anyone is absent from the group, they ARE STILL RESPONSIBLE for their part of the project.  It would be best to exchange phone numbers to ensure that the project is completed on time.

You will be using Microsoft Office to create your newspapers.  Each member of the group is responsible for one page of the newspaper.  However, keep in mind that all pages MUST be in the same style (template).


1.      As a group, you will want to first start off by deciding how you will approach this project.  You will need a title for this newspaper, so that might be the first place you start.


2.      Determine who is doing what for the project.  Who will be responsible for the information and layout for the front page, inside cover, etc.?


3.      Decide who will be covering what information on what page.  Remember, you are writing this in the time period of the Great Depression.


4.      When you have determined the above information, break off and do some research.  You will need to find the relevant information on the Internet to write your newspapers.  You are not limited to just the open Internet.  You can also use the online databases that the school district subscribes to.  They will be VERY helpful for this project.


5.      Be sure to save the webpage in your student folder and/or print if it is available to refer to the information again later on.  You will need to cite the information that you provide in the newspaper on the very last page.  Those details will follow.


6.      Be creative!



A.  The general look of this newspaper ought to be authentic from the time period. 

B.  The images and captions of those images need to tell a story.  They need to be relevant to the article and of the newspaper as a whole.

C.  Each page of the newspapers MUST have an “Editorial” article.  This is where you, as the “editor”, provide your OWN viewpoint on living in the Great Depression.  Clearly this will be based off of your research and prior knowledge.

D.  One of the following options MUST be included in your newspaper in some fashion.

            1.  A political cartoon from the time period.


2.  A 5 frame comic strip depicting a scene from the time period.  This can be drawn by someone in your group or found on the Internet.


3.  An interview with someone living during the Great Depression.  The interview must be transcribed in their “voice”.


4.  A song or poem from the time period.  If you choose a song, you must have the music as to play it during your presentation.


E.  Your newspaper sections are as follows.  They do not need to appear in this order, however, entertainment would be the last section.

a.  Business (economic perspective)

b.  Lifestyle (social perspective)

c.  Government (political perspective)

d.  Entertainment (cultural perspective)




A copy of the rubric is found on the website for this project (monkes.weebly.com).  Be sure to go over it with your group so that you know what you will be graded on and how you will be graded.




Links to various resources will be provided on the website.  Use these resources as starting points, not the end all, be all for information.





You will have ample opportunity to work on this project in class either in the Media Center or in the room on the laptops.  However, any work that is NOT finished by the deadline will need to be completed at home.  If you are using your time wisely in class, this should NOT be an issue.


Finally, the deadline for this project to be completed is next Friday, April 23 at the end of class.  We will begin presenting on the following Monday. 





Lesson Opening


Students will explore links from Weebly page about 1930's journalism and migrant worker topics:

  • 1930's newspaper headlines / articles
  • Political cartoons
  • Editorials
  • Images
  • Song lyrics / audio clips
  • Interview audio clips

Lesson Opening Co-teaching Plan


Teachers will open lesson, foster questions, guide research




Each student will be responsible for one section of the paper and the research and publication of that section.


Exploration Co-teaching Plan


Both teachers will assist in the suggestion of resources and aid in publicattion.


Check for Understanding


Finished publication will assess students' understanding of a certain aspect of the time period in which the novel is set.


Check for Understanding Co-teaching Plan


Teaming:  Both teachers help with the assessment.




 Explaination and details found on the assignment website and Webquest site.







username:   ucs11astudent

password:  ucs11astudent





Explanation Co-teaching Plan


One teach, one assist with vocabulary, special needs.


Extended Practice


Beginner / Intermediate / Advanced

These are available on the project website:



1.  Saturday Night LIve parody of George & Lennie


2.  Great Depression Historical Background PowerPoint

3.  Chapter summary PowerPoint slides (include symbols, explainations of relationships, chronology, interpretations).

4.  Audio files of songs of the Dust Bowl and interviews with migrant workers headed to California, Dust Bowl, and work camps.






Students share summative assessment projects (newspapers).


Closing Co-teach Plan


Both teachers review main points, reinforce Big Picture.