Jefferson 6th Graders Create Great Depression ELA Project

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Jamestown Public Schools

Jefferson Middle School sixth graders, Ruby Meyer, Mallory Atwater, Addison Zahn and Braelyn Peterson, recently created an independent project around the Great Depression and the novel, Bud, Not Buddy in Erin Knapp’s class. They created a visual timeline of the Great Depression with quotes, text and pictures. They used their timeline to teach the rest of their class what they learned during their project.
“I thought this research project would be a great way to challenge some of my higher students as well as give them the opportunity to teach the class what they learned,” said Mrs. Knapp. “The majority of the work was done independently, and they were always so excited to update me on their progress and what they were learning. Since the girls had to meet the requirements of the project plus keep up with the regular ELA curriculum, they really had to manage their time and work cooperatively. Overall, they did a fantastic job. I am so proud of them!”
The girls created the project based on their ELA unit and reading the novel, Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis. The novel is about Bud Caldwell, a ten-year-old orphan, living in Flint, Michigan in 1936. Since the death of his mother four years earlier, Bud has been living in an orphanage and had short stints in several foster homes. By reading the novel students learn, “What are “rules to live by?” How do people formulate and use “rules” to improve their lives? How do people communicate these “rules” to others? They read the novel closely for its figurative language and word choice, analyzing how these affect the tone and meaning of the text. They also write a literary argument essay in which they establish a claim about how Bud uses his “rules:” to survive or to thrive. Students substantiate their claim using specific text-based evidence including relevant details and direct quotations from the novel.
In their project, the girls spotlighted seven different events such as the “Bank Run” and “The Children of the Great Depression” with text, photographs and sayings from that time period. They used on-line resources and books, spending almost a week in the library researching for the project.
“We decided to do the timeline instead of a PowerPoint because we wanted everyone to be able to see it in the hallway and learn more about the Great Depression,” said the girls. “We also had to write a script to use for our presentation to our class. It was really interesting learning facts and stories about the Great Depression that we would not have discovered if we hadn’t done this independent project and shared them with our classmates.”