Objectives: By the end of this lesson, student will:
  • view images of specific places in the United States, and within small groups, determine how they reflect "America" to them.
  • define what they mean by the term “America”, or "American," (i.e. patriotism, historical, comforting, familiar, etc) means.
  • rank each of the sites according to personal opinion as to their importance.
  • share out with the entire class.
  • view a Dorothy Lange photograph of a sharecropper’s shack.
  • source the image/document.


There are no DC Standards that effectively fit this text. However, the unit will be using Standards 11.11.xx


[Here, you should include a list of primary and secondary sources as well as other materials you will be using in the class. Attach all handouts and readings you will use for this lesson to the curricular unit.]

In Climbing Income Ladder, Location Matters - NYTimes.com

In Climbing Income Ladder, Location Matters - NYTimes.com

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Anne Moody, Coming of Age in Mississippi, New York: Doubleday, 1968.

Dorathia Lange, Sharecropper’s Cabin and Sharecropper’s Wife, Ten Miles South of Jackson, Mississippi, 1937. Farm Security Administion/Office of War Information Collection, Library of Congress.

Fair Employment Practices Commission

Fair Employment Practices Commission: Transcription courtesy of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=72&page=transcript

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Climbing Income Ladder, Location Matters

Climbing Income Ladder, Location Matters - NYTimes.com

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Black and White and Married in the Deep South: A Shifting Image

Black and White and Married in the Deep South: A Shifting Image By SUSAN SAULNY Published: March 20, 2011, page A1 of the New York Times

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To Secure These Rights

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Warm Up

Warm Up:

  • Grab a seat and get out your notebook. As you watch the KeyNote, please take notes and try to name as many of the PLACES you see as you can. 
  • After the KeyNote, get into your groups, and list all of the places together. 
  • You will be be determining which of these places is most “American,” so the first thing you must do as a group is to define what “American” is. 
  • Then rank each place in accordance to their importance. Make sure you jot down your reasons for seating each place where you did.
  • After roughly ten (10) minutes we will regroup for a class discussion. 

New Material

Lesson #1: America as it should be? And what power does place have in our lives

Students will view a KeyNote that depicts various American scenes. 

    • Students will view a KeyNote that depicts various American scenes.
    • They will be asked to write down as many of them as they can.
    • Students will then get into small groups, compare lists, and then decide/discuss which of these places feels most “American” to them and why.
    • Class will regroup to discuss the sites we have viewed.
    • Students will be asked to explain the “power of each place” in terms of how they reacted to them and what emotions they might have experienced.
    • Finally, a picture of a sharecropper’s shack will be put up on the board. 
      • Question: How is this place different from the places we have just discussed?
      • What is the power of this place?
      • How could this place impact the lives of those who live there (Consider living conditions, economics, educational and civil rights opportunities, etc.)?   


  • Read and annotate the handout, “In Climbing the Ladder, Location Matters.” 
  • Review the first section of the Moody Book, “Childhood” for tomorrow’s class discussion as needed.
  • Review Chapter 31 in either the textbook or review book.
  • Write a five (5) paragraph essay about the Lange photo: How could this place impact the lives of those who live there (Consider living conditions, economics, educational and civil rights opportunities, etc.)? The essay will be due by email no later than 11 PM tomorrow night.
  • Go to DropBox or the website for a copy of the photo if needed.
  • Read the handout, “To Secure These Rights.”
  • Do a quick web-search about the Plessy v Fergeson case so that you have a bit of background for tomorrow's class.


Because this is the first day of class, many of the skills we are dealing with here are new to some of the students. In order to facilitate a better understanding of what they are doing, I will go from group to group discussing ways they could be looking at images (sourcing documents) in context.

When we get to the final image of the sharecropper’s wife, I will try to have students make connections between the image that they are looking at (a primary source), their summer reading (Coming of Age in Mississippi-another primary source), and the effects that poverty has on people. In doing so, I hope to connect primary sources (both print and images) to secondary sources (textbook and the article).


Students will be assessed on their involvement in their groups, contributions in the class discussions, and the essay they will be writing. 

Because this is the first day of school, I am trying to impress upon my students the need to be able to communicate their reasoning for their opinions. I hope to be able to work on note-taking, discussion, and reasoning skills as I walk around the groups as well as asking questions during group/class discussions. 

Finally, I will be looking at the construction and reasoning in their homework essays. Because they have been submitting essays to me all summer (students have been writing summations of each of the four (4) sections of Anne Moody’s Coming of Age in Mississippi), they should be able to express themselves in a fairly sophisticated manner by now.

Closure and Reflection

Ladies and gentlemen, today we looked at a number of places in America and we tried to decide which of them was the most … "American." You also tried to define what that means, so I think we have a general idea of what we mean for today's class. 

Over the course of the school year, we are going to be paying close atttention to places and their power over those who live, work, or visit there. Now, it is important to remember that the power of place extends far past the emotional. It also impacts economic and educational opportunities, liberty, social norms, and for that matter, race relations. This is in no way a complete list, and without a doubt, you will add to it. 

Tomorrow, we are going to begin looking at Anne Moody's book, Coming of Age in Mississippi, and see what was going on in the rest of the country at the same time. I will be modeling the discussions both about the book and the events that occur between 1940 and 1950. So please make sure you review your accounts about Ms. Moody's childhood, and in your textbooks, those incidents that occurred between 1940 and 1950 (use your time-line to help determine what you should be looking at). 

After tomorrow, you will be leading these discussions. That will require a bit of research on your part. For now, I will be assigning specific people to specific events, but sooner than later, I will just randomly pick someone to lead the discussion. So get in the habit of reading up and being prepared. See you tomorrow.  

Students will fill out a daily exit slip and answer the following two (2) questions:

  1.  What was the most important/interesting thing we discussed in class today and why?
  2. Formulate an essential question for tomorrow based on what we studied today.