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To Move or Not to Move? Decision-Making and Sacrifice Lesson Plan
Overview
The narrative The Great Migration raises questions involved in decision-making and recounts the sacrifices made by African-American migrants. Many students take for granted both mobility and instant gratification, so the lesson To Move or Not to Move? introduces them to the concepts of decision-making, cost-benefit analysis, deferred gratification, and sacrifice. Students will research and role-play African Americans in the South in the early twentieth century, seeking to balance their search for opportunity with the sacrifices they will have to make.
Grade Levels:Middle school, grades 6-8
For use with:The Great Migration
Concentration Area:History
Concentration Area:Social Studies
National Curriculum Standards met by this lesson
T The following standards have been taken from the Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McRel) standards.
Students will understand

  • The challenges diverse people encountered in the late 19th century American society (e.g., the role of new laws and the federal judiciary in instituting racial inequality; arguments and methods by which various minority groups sought to acquire equal rights and opportunities; experiences of African American families who migrated from the South to New York City in the 1890s).
  • How racial and ethnic events influenced America during the Progressive Era.
  • Influences on urban life in America during the 1920s.
Time required
One 50-minute class period if students read the narrative outside of class
Materials needed
Anticipatory Set

  1. Poll students to see how many of them have:

    1. Lived in the same home and never moved in their entire lives.
    2. Lived in the community all their lives but have changed homes.
    3. Lived in their state all their lives but have moved from one town to another.
    4. Lived in the United States all their lives but have moved from one state to another.
    5. Moved between countries during their lifetimes.
  2. If students have not heard the word "mobility" in the context of the movement of people, define it for them. Ask them to calculate their class mobility by dividing the number of students who have moved at any time in their lives by the class total. Ask students to evaluate whether they think their class displays high, average, or low mobility.
  3. Discuss reasons why people move, either in general terms or by calling on volunteers who may provide specific examples.
Procedures

  1. Explain to students that they will be reading about one of the mass migrations in U.S. history, focusing on how the individuals involved made the decision to move or not to move, and considering the sacrifices they made by moving or remaining. Ask students to read The Great Migration, particularly the segments "Leaving the South," and "The Journey North." Make sure students can define the term "step migration."
  2. As they read the segments, ask students to examine decision-making by keeping in mind the following questions that African Americans had to consider:

    1. How bad is it here?
    2. How good is it there?
    3. Who in the family will make the journey?
    4. How much will it cost?
    5. Where will I live?
    6. What will I sacrifice?
    7. Is it worth the sacrifice?
  3. Discuss, as a class, the information students have learned about social and economic conditions in the South and North, how migrants made the journey, the sacrifices they made, and the sacrifices made by those who remained. Discuss the concept of cost-benefit analysis: that is, drawing up a list of pros and cons about decisions to be made. Ask students how such an activity can be beneficial in helping them to organize their thoughts and replace impulse actions with real decision-making.
  4. Ask students to either draw for roles or sign up for them. Roles may include:

    1. A healthy, unmarried 18-year old man.
    2. A healthy, unmarried 18-year old woman.
    3. A blind but healthy, unmarried 18-year old man.
    4. A newly married, healthy, 20-year old man with no children.
    5. A newly married, healthy, 20-year old woman with no children.
    6. A recently married, healthy, 20-year old man awaiting the birth of his first child.
    7. A recently married, healthy, 20-year old woman expecting her first child.
    8. A 25-year old, unmarried, male World War I veteran with lung damage from mustard gas.
    9. A 25-year-old female World War I widow with three children.
    10. A married, generally healthy, 35-year old male sharecropper with five children.
    11. A married, generally healthy, 35-year old male barber with five children.
    12. A married, generally healthy, 35-year old woman with five children, and who works as a domestic.
    13. A healthy, unmarried 35-year old woman supporting her parents.
    14. A married, 40-year old pastor of a church and who has four children.
    15. The 40-year old wife of the pastor of a church and who has four children.
    16. A generally healthy, 50-year old, married man with grown children.
    17. A 50-year old, married man, partially disabled from maiming hand in a baling accident, and who has grown children.
    18. A generally healthy, 50-year old, married woman with grown children.
    19. A 50-year old widower with grown children.
    20. A 50-year old widow with grown children but helping to raise the grandchildren.
    21. A 70-year old, married man with grown children and suffers from rheumatoid arthritis.
    22. A generally healthy, 70-year old widower with grown children.
    23. A generally healthy, 70-year old married woman with grown children.
    24. A generally healthy, 70-year old widow.
  5. Ask students either to write or present a monolog from the point of view of the role they have received. They should write about the issue of moving or not moving from the South, making certain they address these questions:

    1. How bad is it here?
    2. How good is it there?
    3. Who in the family will make the journey?
    4. How much will it cost?
    5. Where will I live?
    6. What will I sacrifice?
    7. Is it worth the sacrifice?
  6. Ask students to either present their monologs orally or share what they have written. Discuss, as a class, the differences between the concepts of "sacrifice," "deferred gratification," and "instant gratification." Evaluate which concepts best applied to African Americans who were considering whether they would participate in the Great Migration at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Assessment

Assess the oral presentation or written assignment on a 15-point scale, choosing between the first two categories (oral skills and technical writing skills) for the appropriate format, but applying the remaining two categories (felicity of style/presentation and historical research) to all assignments whether written or oral. You may weight the grade or convert to a 100-point and letter-grade scale by multiplying by 6.6, if you choose.

Grading Element Excellent (5) Good (4) Fair (3-2) Not Satisfactory (1) No Work (0)
Oral Skills Effective

speaker: tonal;

variety; speed;

volume; clarity
Minor

problems:

monotone;

soft; mumbling;

too rapid

  • Numerous speaking problems; or
  • Minimal participation
  • Communication lacking;
  • Wanders off topic
  • Does not participate
    Written Assignment:

    Technical Writing Skills
    Shows excellent:

  • Compositional structure
  • Sentence structure and variety
  • Vocabulary use
  • Grammar, spelling, punctuation
  • Shows good:

  • Compositional structure
  • Sentence structure and variety
  • Vocabulary use
  • Grammar, spelling, punctuation
  • Shows adequate:

  • Compositional structure
  • Sentence structure and variety
  • Vocabulary use
  • Grammar, spelling, punctuation
  • Shows inadequate:

  • Compositional structure
  • Sentence structure and variety
  • Vocabulary use
  • Grammar, spelling, punctuation
  • Does not turn in assignment
    Felicity of Style and Presentation Oral Presentation or Composition:

  • Engages audience
  • Shows creativity
  • Shows empathy with historical figures
  • Oral Presentation or Composition is above average in:

  • Engaging audience
  • Demonstrating creativity
  • Showing empathy with historical figures
  • Oral Presentation or Composition is adequate in:

  • Holding audience's interest
  • Demonstrating creativity
  • Showing empathy with historical figures
  • Oral Presentation or Composition demonstrates attempt to fulfill assignment with little or no success Fails to complete assignment
    Historical Research

  • Locates and uses specific historical arguments and examples
  • Has no factual errors
  • Locates and uses general historical arguments and a few examples
  • Has no factual errors
  • Locates and uses general information
  • Has some factual errors
  • Little research
  • Limited understanding of arguments
  • Has many factual errors
  • No research

    Related Works

    • The Schomburg Center has numerous images of African Americans in urban settings in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Visit the online exhibit, Harlem 1900-1940: An African-American Community, accessible at: http://www.si.umich.edu/CHICO/Harlem/index.html. The exhibition includes a timeline, teacher materials, and a resource list. Additional images of African American Women Writers of the 19th century are available at the Schomburg Center's digital library collection at: http://digital.nypl.org/schomburg/writers_aa19/.
    • Further images of urban communities may be found online at the Mid-Manhattan Library Picture Collection featuring 30,000 pre-1923 images from books, magazines, newspapers, prints, postcards, and photographs at: http://digital.nypl.org/mmpco/.
    • The Library of Congress' American Memory Collection features over seven million online digital documents. It is a rich resource for a wide variety of documents about the African-American experience, including the online exhibit African-American Odyssey. American Memory's homepage is: http://memory.loc.gov/ and African-American Odyssey is at: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/aaohtml/.
    Interdisciplinary Links

    • Mathematics/Economics: Cost-benefit analysis is most typically taught as a concept in economics. Collaborate with the mathematics or economics teacher to engage students in a cost-benefit analysis for a consumer product they would like to acquire. Students would do the following:

      Compare pricing on identical objects at three different stores.

      Determine how many hours they would have to work at a minimum wage job to earn the product.

      Determine how many hours a parent or guardian would have to work to earn the product.

      List reasons why they want to purchase the product.

      List other things they could be doing with that time and/or money.

      List other things their families could be doing with the time and money the parent or guardian would have to sacrifice.

      Evaluate whether the purchase of the product is worthwhile.
    • Sociology: Students may investigate how mobility and speed (in communications, transportation, and information exchange) has impacted society, including people, communities, and institutions. They may wish to look at areas such as psychological health, marriage, family, education, employment and job stability, or volunteerism, for example.
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