Great Books: The Grapes of Wrath Teacher s Guide

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1 Teacher s Guide Grade Level: 9 12 Curriculum Focus: Literature Lesson Duration: One class period Program Description Follow the Joad family as they migrate from Oklahoma to California during the Great Depression. The public responded to this classic story written by John Steinbeck with alternate respect and scorn; its pages were banned and burned by many, but embraced by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Lesson Plan Student Objectives Materials Understand the universal nature of the characters struggles and some of the complex forces affecting their lives. Understand the value of primary source material in presenting an authentic picture of a period in history. Student copies of The Grapes of Wrath and any notes they may have about the novel Writing paper, pencils or pens 3" x 5" index cards with the name of one of the characters on each (use as many as needed and repeat some, if you choose): Tom Joad; Ma Joad; Jim Casy; Granma or Grampa Joad; Rose of Sharon; Connie Rivers; Al Joad; a California farmer; Muley Graves or any of the farmers who stay behind; Jim Rawley or any of the camp managers at a government-run migrant camp Image of men in a recreation hall at a migrant camp from Voices from the Dust Bowl, photocopied for class use Image of migrant family from Dorothea Lange s photographs taken for the Farm Security Administration, photocopied for class use. Document of Associated Farmers Declaration of Law and Order photocopied for class use

2 Teacher s Guide 2 Procedures 1. Assign students to small groups (three or four, depending on class size) or allow students to choose their own groups. Designate a leader responsible for keeping the group on task and a recorder to note the group members responses to the assignment. Inform them that you will collect this work for evaluation. 2. Distribute packets of the three downloaded primary sources for students. Hold the index cards fanned out with characters names face down; ask one student from each group to select a card. 3. Have groups discuss and record their answers to questions below about the character. To reinforce discussion, encourage them to refer to the novel, notes, personal understanding of the book, and the primary material. What three or four adjectives best describe the character s dominant personality traits? What two or three questions would you ask this character to help you to understand the individual? What two or three objects or symbols do you associate with this character? 4. Explain that during the next class each group will be collaboratively writing a dramatic monologue (suggested length: about 30 lines) for the character. If necessary, review the elements of dramatic monologue: A type of poem, generally in free verse, that is voiced by a single speaker to a reader or listener. The speaker addresses a specific topic, and in the process reveals a great deal of personal information. 5. Identify criteria for the monologue. It should meet the definition of a dramatic monologue, accurately and appropriately represent the character in an authentic voice, reflect a knowledge of the character and the role in the novel, and reveal some previously unknown facet of the character s life (i.e., the audience should gain a deeper understanding of the character's personality or psychology). 6. Have students draft the topic their character will address in a monologue. They might choose to have the character answer one of the questions they posed in procedure Step 3. As students begin discussing their monologue, encourage them to think about the Depression Era images they reviewed. These primary sources should help them understand what life was like for migrant workers. Collect notes from each group and encourage students to come prepared with ideas for writing. 7. The next day have students immediately get into their groups, return their notes from the previous class, and instruct them to work on the collaborative writing. Stress the length limit (about 30 minutes) and other criteria you have set. Realize that, although students will write a draft, they may produce creative work. You will be able to assess their understanding of the characters and the major ideas in the novel.

3 Teacher s Guide 3 8. During the remaining time, select one student from each group to read and share each group s product. If time allows, ask for comments. Assessment Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students' work during this lesson. 3 points: Preliminary group work (reviewing online sources and analyzing images) was correctly and thoroughly completed. Writing fits definition of a dramatic monologue and is written in a voice that seems authentic to the character. Writing reflects an understanding of the character and his or her role in the novel. 2 points: Preliminary group work (reviewing online sources and analyzing images) was adequately completed. Writing fits some of the definition of a dramatic monologue and is written in a voice that shows some authenticity to the character. Writing reflects some understanding of the character and his or her role in the novel. 1 point: Preliminary group work (reviewing online sources and analyzing images), was incomplete. Writing does not fit the definition of a dramatic monologue and is not written in a voice that seems to the character. Writing does not reflect an understanding of the character and his or her role in the novel. Vocabulary arable Definition: Fit for or used for growing crops Context: In the 1930s, drought and the windstorms that followed turned arable land into dust. derisive Definition: Expressing or showing contempt or scorn Context: The people uprooted in the Dust Bowl were called by the derisive name Okies. indigent Definition: Suffering from indigence; impoverished Context: Many farmers in the Dust Bowl became indigent after they lost their homes. migrant Definition: A person who moves regularly to find work, especially harvesting crops Context: The life of the migrant farmer is dictated by the cycles of planting and harvesting. veracity Definition: Devotion to the truth; truthfulness Context: Although it s fiction, the veracity of The Grapes of Wrath stirred public opinion. vigilante Definition: A self-appointed doer of justice Context: During the Depression, migrant workers often became victims of violent vigilante groups.

4 Teacher s Guide 4 Academic Standards Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) McREL's Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education addresses 14 content areas. To view the standards and benchmarks, visit link: This lesson plan addresses the following national standards: Language Arts Reading: Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of literary texts History United States History: Understands the causes of the Great Depression and how it affected American society Support Materials Develop custom worksheets, educational puzzles, online quizzes, and more with the free teaching tools offered on the Discoveryschool.com Web site. Create and print support materials, or save them to a Custom Classroom account for future use. To learn more, visit DVD Content How To Use the DVD The DVD starting screen has the following options: Play Video This plays the video from start to finish. There are no programmed stops, except by using a remote control. With a computer, depending on the particular software player, a pause button is included with the other video controls. Video Index Here the video is divided into sections, indicated by video thumbnail icons. Watching all parts in sequence is similar to watching the video from start to finish. Brief descriptions and total running times are noted for each part. To play a particular segment, press Enter on the remote for TV playback; on a computer, click once to highlight a thumbnail and read the accompanying text description and click again to start the video. Curriculum Units These are specially edited video segments pulled from different sections of the video (see below). These nonlinear segments align with key ideas in the unit of instruction. They include onscreen pre- and post-viewing questions, reproduced below in this Teacher s Guide. To play a particular segment, press Enter on the TV remote or click once on the Curriculum Unit title on a computer. Standards Link Selecting this option displays a single screen that lists the national academic standards the video addresses. Teacher Resources This screen gives the technical support number and Web site address.

5 Teacher s Guide 5 Video Index I. Introduction (12 min.) An overview of The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck's powerful and realistic portrayal of labor issues in California during the Great Depression, and a detailed look at the book's opening chapters. II. Okies Head West (13 min.) The Joads arrive in California, having lost both Granma and Grampa along the way. Details about author John Steinbeck's early years, and a history of California during the Great Depression. III. The Family's Demise (11 min.) Life in California is far different than what the Joads had imagined. A look at the real-life migrant labor camp that helped influence Steinbeck's writing. IV. Steinbeck's Influence (15 min.) How writing The Grapes of Wrath changed Steinbeck's life. Detailed discussion of the book's final chapters, including a look at the shocking and controversial ending. Curriculum Units Segment 1. Introduction: The Grapes of Wrath Q: How many Americans were put out of work by the Great Depression? A: About 12 million Americans nearly one-quarter of the country's entire workforce became unemployed during the Great Depression. Q: Why is The Grapes of Wrath often considered synonymous with the Great Depression? A: Steinbeck's book told the story of the fictional Joad family, whose life closely resembled that of many real families during the Great Depression. Segment 2. The Journey Begins Q: Why do authors use symbolism? Q: What does the turtle at the beginning of the book symbolize? A: A turtle carries its home around on its back, which is similar to what the Joads were about to do. The turtle symbolizes the Joads' impending journey and the way of life for migrants. Segment 3. Shattered Dreams Q: What would you do to save a dying stranger?

6 Teacher s Guide 6 Q: How did Tom change because of Jim Casy's death? A: Jim Casy's death opened Tom's eyes to the reality of his situation and made him realize that he had to take action against injustice. No longer could he just try to get by and look the other way without doing anything about it. Segment 4. The Great Depression Q: Why do you think Americans move west in times of trouble? Q: Why was farming in California difficult for the Okies? A: When migrants arrived in California, they found that the state was already full of large corporate farms and that the farms had plenty of workers. The plentiful supply of agricultural products and workers meant there was no room for new farmers. Segment 5. The Life and Times of John Steinbeck Q: Do you believe that all living things are interconnected? Q: What is "group man"? A: "Group man" represents Steinbeck's idea that men and women are biologically linked together to form a group, just like cells. As Steinbeck saw it, a nuclear family's needs must give way to the needs of the larger family, the family of humans or "group man." Segment 6. A Book That Changed a Nation Q: How did Steinbeck influence the labor movement in America? Q: How did Eleanor Roosevelt's interest legitimize The Grapes of Wrath? A: Her interest in the plight of migrants led Eleanor Roosevelt to investigate labor camps and their conditions in California. When she did, she found that Steinbeck's story rang true. The American people had great trust in Mrs. Roosevelt and accepted her opinion about the accuracy of Steinbeck's story.

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