Language Arts and Social Studies Activity
Students tell the story of certain populations whose lives were affected by
major events of the 20th century.
WHAT YOU NEED
- Reference materials on major events of the 20th century
- Photographic collections for this period
WHAT TO DO
- Share with students photographs of typical scenes from the 20th century,
such as photos of migrant workers, the flag-raising at Iwo Jima, and a bread
line during the Great Depression. Have students "read" the pictures and
describe how they think the people felt, what they think might have happened
before the picture was taken, and what might have happened after.
- Divide students into teams. Tell students they are to research photographs
of ordinary people of the 20th century whose lives were affected by major
events. Each team is to research the lives of particular group, then tell its story
by first forming a living picture, then having each person "step out" of the
picture to give information about the people involved, that particular person's point of view, and events of the time.
Use the following list of possible groups to start students thinking:
- African Americans who took part in the move North
- Women who went to work in defense factories during World War II
- Japanese Americans who were interned during the war
- A family dispossessed of their home by the Great Depression
- Jews who escaped the Holocaust or came as refugees after the war
- A family that left the former Soviet Union after the fall of the Iron Curtain
- In their "stories" about their characters, students should answer questions such as "Who are you?" "What are you doing in the picture?" "What is your life like?" "How do you feel about it?", etc.
- Have students rehearse their performances, then present their living pictures
over a period of several days. Photograph the performances. If possible,
Get a slide projector and project a background for the picture as large as possible, then have students "step into" the background and begine their performance.
Invite other classes to share a performance of all the living pictures. For
younger classes, have students create an informative narrative to prepare them
for each living picture.
Invite to class community members who witnessed major events of the 20th
century. Ask them to share their remembrances, including photographs, and tell
how those events affected their lives.
Encourage students to go further back in American history and find other major
events (such as the signing of the Declaration of Independence) and form
similar living pictures.
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