Lesson #10
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The American Dream

Background and Rationale: 

This lesson concludes the second week of a unit which examines coerced Irish migration to Iowa for a grade 10-12 advanced placement, American Studies class. Discussions this week were on individual migrations, conditions aboard famine ships, Famine Irish immigration experiences in Iowa , and the vagaries of farming. During this lesson, students will apply conceptual knowledge of the topics discussed.

Why discuss the American Dream? Another overarching goals of this unit is to prompt students to reflect on the concept of the American Dream. Whether because of famine and starvation or simply in search of a better life, millions of immigrants left the lands of their birth, migrating to America . The ephemeral vision, wafting before their eyes, which pulled them to our shores has been termed the American Dream.


Objectives and Procedures: 

(50 minute class period)

Given the following activities, the students will:

Explore their understanding of the American Dream through a reflective discussion
Demonstrate understanding of terms through a vocabulary exercise

Teaching strategies:

Small group discussion (Student driven discussion of the American Dream)
Vocabulary building (practical exercise)


Sequence of Events:

Minutes 1 through 5:
Administrative functions (attendance)

Minutes 5 through 10:
Introduce discussion topic: the American Dream

Minutes 10 through 15:
Pass out vocabulary exercise/collect journal exercises

Minutes 15 through 20:
Completion of vocabulary exercise

Minutes 20 through 25:
Discussion of vocabulary exercise

Minutes 25 through 30:
Arrangement into small groups

Minutes 30 through 35:
Discussion of the American Dream

Minutes 35 to 40:

Individual groups list concepts developed through discussion

Minutes 40 through 45:
Combining concepts developed by all groups

Minutes 45 through 50:


Talk to learn: Reflective Discussion

How will I know this is working?

            a) Lively discussion of in small groups/class-wide discussion
            b) Students are prepared for/promptly complete the vocabulary exercise

Associated projects: Small group exercise

Readings : excerpts from "Historical Jottings"