The Great Depression By: Erin Jensen \General Education Adapted Unit

Summary of Unit:

Unit Choice: This unit consists of three sections/lessons: “Causes of the Depression”, “Americans Face Hard Times” and “Hoover's Response Fails”. These lessons give the students a understanding of the elements within the great depression and the affects that it made on people’s lives. The time frame that the students will begin to learn about this topic is 1929 and ending in the year 1932.

Grade Level: High Schoolers (9th graders to 12th graders)

Topic: Great Depression in America during the 1920's-1930's

Publisher: Pearson Prentice Hall

Overall Goal for Unit: The students will be able to understand the hardships in which people went through during the time of the depression.

Outcomes for the Unit: The students will have understanding of: how overspending/producing can cause economic crisis, the president and the government made different choices that harmed the American people more during the depression, without money people suffered and not able to eat as they once should and lost all of what they had, businesses closed, people had to change their mindset and fend for themselves, Dust Bowl ruined almost one third of America which ruined crops and the fact that the Depression was one of the hardest time for the country.

State Standards:

  • SS. H.11. 9-12. Analyze multiple and complex causes and effects of events in the past.
  • RH.9-10.2. Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source:provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of a text . SS.G.4.9-12: Evaluate how political and economic decisions have influenced cultural and environmental characteristics of various places and regions.
  • SS.G.1.9-12: Use maps (created using geospatial and related technologies, if possible), satellite images, and photographs to display and explain the spatial patterns of physical, cultural, political, economic and environmental characteristics.
  • SS.H.2.9-12: Analyze change and continuity within and across historical eras. SS.EC.1.9-12: Analyze how scarcity and incentives influence choices to consume or produce for different individuals and groups.
  • SS.H.5.9-12: Analyze the factors and historical context that influenced the perspectives of people during different historical eras

Explanation of Lesson 1: Causes of the Great Depression

This lesson is comprised of the causes of the great depression. The students will learn that during the 1920’s people of America had many opportunities such as employment, buying a house, strength in the economic system and the ability to have the american dream. Then 1929 happened and America changed forever. Money was lost, people were unemployed and lost almost everything that they had. Within this lesson, there are discussions of what caused this crisis.

Explanation of Lesson 2: Americans Face Hard Times

As the prior lesson taught students the causes of the depression this lesson teaches the students the hard times that Americans face during this time. People during this time lost their jobs, their money and their houses. People had to search for food, place to live and worried on how they would make ends meet. Students will learn of this crisis as well as the Dust Bowl that harmed resources for many Americans. They will also learn that desperate needs call for desperate acts such as migrating to a new location.

Explanation of Lesson 3: Hoover’s Response Fails

In this lesson, it talks about Herbert Hoover response to the Great Depression for the American people. The students will learn about how Hoover turned to Volunteerism and forming a reconstruction Finance Corporation. There will be policies that are discussed that failed during the years of the Depression that Hoover made. Knowing that the President's decisions can impact the whole country negatively or positively is vital within this time era.

Materials can make or break how a child learns.....

Description of ALL materials that are needed to carry out the unit:

(All of these materials are installed and used within the textbook)

History book: This is the book in which the students use to complete the tasks during the lessons that are taught by their teacher. There are activities, resources, visuals such as graphs and pictures, definitions and a bunch of reading all in this textbook. All of the content is installed within the textbook.

Presentation Express: This is a program that includes audio, witness history of the depression, interactive, video and lecture outlines. There are different parts within the Unit that this program is used.

Witness History: An audio recording of people who lived in the great depression and went through different hardships. At different parts of the chapter there are different stories such as Stock Market prosperity, The depression Descends on America, Riding the Rails and Rugged Individualism.

Note Taking Skills: These are points in the chapter in which the teacher would give the students different tasks to complete which are typically done with a worksheet. Some of these are: Semantic map of the causes of the depression, flowchart to track what happened in the U.S. economy, Venn disagree of how the depression affected both urban and rural america, Guided Questioning strategy, and an Outline of President Hoover's response to the depression. All of these tasks are done whiling the students read the chapter in the Unit.

Pictures: In each and every chapter there are pictures that illustrate the great depression. Some of these are of people while other pictures are of graphs/statistics. The pictures range from simple to hard. Each picture has a description of what the pictures meaning is.

Assessments: At the end of each unit there is a progress monitoring assessment which includes: vocabulary, comprehension questions, writing prompts and critical thinking strategies. There is a lot of writing in these assessments.

Chapter Worksheet: Before this unit has began, the students are asked to complete a pre-read chapter worksheet. This test their knowledge of the topic and gives the teacher a better understanding of how and what to teach.

Audio Book: This history book has a audio of the entire book. This can be used for a wide range of reasons: students who do better when they can start and stop when they please and those who are a English Learner. The audio book comes in different languages to ensure that the students are able to use if needed.

Checkpoint Questions: At different points in each chapter of the book, the students are asked to complete different questions. The student will answer the question by writing a piece of notebook paper and then turn it into the teacher. In the teacher's book, it illustrates what a correct answer has to have to ensure that the students are comprehending the materials.

Walls can stop us from going in the right direction and so does materials that aren't individualized!

Barriers of the Material Used in this Unit

Too much text: The textbook which is the a huge part of the unit consists of a lot of text. This means that students will have to be able to use literacy skills and should be at instructional level text while reading this text. There is far too much vocabulary that is either content specific or complex that the students need to understand to be able to understand the text. This creates a barrier for students who struggle with reading.

Reading Level: This reading text book is a high school level. In most cases, for students with moderate-severe disabilities they are not at a reading level in which their grade level is in school. The lack of understanding using this book will cause problems with students being able to comprehend and remember important facts.

Lack of Visuals: This book consists of visuals that include pictures of the time era, timelines, graphs to show the economic crisis and descriptions with each photo. The problem is with these photos is with the descriptions with each visual the students need to have background knowledge. The students will look at the photo and without a simple description, not be able to know the meaning of the visual.

Vocabulary to Abstract: Most of the vocabulary that is taught in this unit is complex and Tier 2 or Tier 3 level words. This creates a barrier because of the complexity of the word, meaning and pronunciation.

Not individualized for all learners: This unit the way it is before adapting is not meant for a variety of learners. Not all learners comprehend when there is a lot of reading, background knowledge, teacher directed and so many other aspects. The individual is not shown in these lessons and creates a barrier for students with disabilities to succeed.

Not enough knowledge of background information: For this unit, there is a lot of background information that is needed for the students to know every specific detail of the Great Depression. This barrier means that the students need to learn background knowledge instead of directly going into the lessons. Simplify this content is how students with multiple disabilities will be able to learn.

Delivery Instruction (Lecture): The instruction that is given for this unit is mostly lecture from the teacher to the student. When a teacher lectures the majority of the time, the students lose their ability to focus. Also too much information and not enough time for processing causes another barrier for students with multiple disabilities.

Not enough movement breaks: These lessons are usually taught teacher led with reading out loud and sitting most of the time. This creates a barrier because the students attention span can become distracted and not retain most of the content. To regain focus there needs to be breaks such as “brain breaks” that get the student moving to become actively involved.

Too much writing: Within each section of this book, there is comprehension checks and assessments that consists of the student writing their answer. First of, the barrier is that the complexity of the questions as well as the ability to write or answer how the textbook desires. Some students are not able to write but instead use different forms of understanding such as gesturally or using Assistive Technology.

Change is a essential component for students success!

Characteristics/Needs of Students:

  • High School students
  • Varying forms of communication:
  • Verbal
  • Non-Verbal (Uses augmentative communication- Ipads)
  • Timers
  • Different Level of Academic areas: math, reading, social studies (average 2nd-3rd grade)
  • Reward system needed for regulation
  • Needs movement breaks
  • Schedule need to be reviewed for the day/lessons
  • Needs to be taught in a explicit way
  • Consistency during lessons/activities
  • Varying levels of prompting needed to fulfill an activity
  • Students can become over stimulated so needs:
  • Quiet space
  • Not to much movement between the teachers/aides
  • Needs to be age appropriate- they do not like activities that make them feel young
  • Using simplistic language
  • Some students need to be closer to the board because of visual impairments
  • One student needs to have the teacher wear a hearing device that is connect with her hearing aides
  • The teacher/aides need to be on the same page
  • If a change in the normal routine, it needs to be discussed days before with the students
  • There needs to be at times so intentional ignoring (with students who stem, pick, laugh, etc).
  • The placement of students has to be consistent but also considered while placing the students as some students become more behavioral while around other students
  • Positive Praise is a key factor for the students as they become more engaged as they know they are doing a good job
The big question is WHY?

Why does this unit need to be adapted for the students?

Too much text

  • Use adapted book, create your own book, modify the amount of information a text can bring to students
  • (Browder, pg.227, 2011)

Reading Level

  • Adapted books, Having visuals to represent text, using simplistic language
  • (Browder, pg.227, 2011)

Lack of Visuals

  • Creating meaningful visuals , represented the material that is being taught, Videos
  • (Browder, pg. 265 , 2011)

Vocabulary to Abstract

  • Explicitly teach the words that are key for the chapter, give the students visuals, manipulatives to represent the meaning of the key words.
  • (Browder, pg.151, 2011)

Not enough knowledge of background information

  • Graphic organizers, pre-teach, Video, Visuals
  • (Browder, pg. 229, 2011)

Delivery Instruction (Lecture)

  • Stations, peer-partners, group work, movement breaks, field trips, attention getter
  • (Browder, pg. 230-231, 2011)

Not enough movement breaks

  • Before starting activity have a 2 minute break, have movement within the lessons.
  • (Jensen, N.D.)

Too much writing

  • Least restrictive to most instructive prompting, Story maps, T-chart, venn diagram,
  • (Browder, chpt. 6, 2011)
Adapted Materials

Adapted Materials for all Three lessons

Lesson 1:

  • Timeline with visuals
  • Schedule of activities for the day on Smart Board
  • You tube song on great depression
  • Smart Board
  • Anchor Chart used as a timeline in explicit practice
  • Visuals of people during depression
  • Map of farming areas in U.S. During the depression
  • Fake Checks (Used for bank activity)

Lesson 2:

  • Pictures/manipulatives of people in depression and those who are not in depression- used for assessment
  • Potato: A Tale of the Great Depression by Kate Lied used in Learning Ally (Adapted Book)
  • Learning Ally
  • (Dust Bowl)
  • Concept Map of impact of depression
  • Chrome book, written concept map or cue cards used for independent practice
  • Emotional Cue Cards
  • Prompt cards for acting sessions
  • Popsicle Sticks with students names used for Acting
  • White Board with Different Acting Segments written/drawn
  • Adapted Worksheet used for Introduction using: Potato: A Tale of the Great Depression

Lesson 3:

  • Canva (Each group makes a canva- Pictures provided)
  • Adapted book (made by the teacher)
  • Smart Board
  • Google Slides (Visuals, statements, phrases)
  • Exit Slip for Assessment
  • Ipad
  • Interactive Anchor Chart made by SMART exchange (One on each policy)
  • Check List with pictures/phrases
  • Bingo Dots for independent practice
Skills is not just academics, its building a foundation for the students!

Universal Design Components

  • High tech UDL component for lesson 1: Smart Board with Visuals/ Rap Song on Depression
  • High tech UDL component for lesson 2: Learning Alley/ Ted Ed Video
  • High tech UDL component for lesson 3: Canva/Speech to Text/Augmentative Communication, SMART exchange program

Multiple Means of...

Lesson one:

  • Multiple Means of Expression: Video, Visuals of causes, choice making with what cause they want to do within their independent practice, modeling the timeline.
  • Multiple Means of Representation: Anchor Chart (timeline), bank acting out, visuals given for all the causes of the Depression.
  • Multiple Means of Engagement: Video, Questions that are linked to students lives, getting out of their seats during the anchor chart activity and the banker activity.

Lesson Two:

  • Multiple Means of Expression:Adapted Text, Concept Map, Visual aides used for choice making in assessment, worksheet as a guided reading tool (students will gesturally identify the impact when read about).
  • Multiple Means of Representation:Role Playing (Acting Out), Adapted Text, visual aides, concept map.
  • Multiple Means of Engagement:Acting/role playing, Using Learning Ally to follow along with the adapted text, using concept map with visuals for independent practice.

Lesson Three:

  • Multiple Means of Expression: Canva (made by each group and each group has different policy), checklist (for assessment), and anchor charts.
  • Multiple Means of Representation: Schedule of the day/objective, adapted book made by teacher, poster made in introduction, each group presenting their policy (canva).
  • Multiple Means of Engagement:Group work for guided practice, Anchor charts, adapted book, visuals, and questioning.

List of vocational skills from all 3 lessons:

  • Lesson 1: Sequencing time/events (important for knowing how to complete task at job)
  • Lesson 2: Assigned Job (giving the student a task in which needs to be completed)
  • Lesson 3: Collaborating and knowing how to work with one another

List of social skills from all 3 lessons:

  • Lesson 1: Conversation with banker ( ex. The activity of going to the bank)
  • Lesson 2: Acting out a situation from the Great Depression, going in front of the class
  • Lesson 3: Peer groups: Each student having a job and collaborating

List of behavioral skills from all 3 lessons:

  • Lesson 1: Answering questions at the best of their knowledge
  • Lesson 2: Expectations of Acting given before they complete this task
  • Lesson 3: Being respectful while collaborating during group work
Determination drives a person to be an advocate for themselves!

Self Determination in all Three Lessons

Lesson One:

  • Example 1: Choice Making
  • Rationale: The students will be given the choice of all the causes of depression to choose from. They have to decide on their own which one they would like to represent.
  • Justification: (Wehmeyer, pg. 17, 2007)
  • Example 2: Following a Schedule
  • Rationale: The students are given the objective and a step by step schedule of the class period. This will help them know their expectation and what the class period will entail. They will follow the schedule to make transitions easier from moving from one activity to the next
  • Justifications: (Browder, pg. 313, 2011)
  • Example 3: Self Efficacy
  • Rationale: Within the independent practice the students need to produce an example of the cause of the depression that a person may have gone through. They need to determine the best and most effective way to complete task.
  • Justification: (Browder, pg.376, 2011)

Lesson Two:

  • Example One: Self Advocacy
  • Rationale: While the students are acting, they need believe within themselves and due their best. This shows that they are advocating for themselves by trying their hardest and doing it with minimal prompts.
  • Justification: (Wehmeyer, pg. 95, 2007)
  • Example Two: Decision Making
  • Rationale: How is the student going to fulfill the acting sections, what will they decide to include or how to act.
  • Justification: (Browder, pg. 312, 2011)
  • Example Three: Self Instruction
  • Rationale: The students will need to act using emotional cue cards. They will have to instruct themselves on what specifically should be included.
  • Justification: (Wehmeyer, pg. 104, 2007)

Lesson Three:

  • Example One: Self Choice
  • Rationale: The students will have to decide what role they would like to have during the group work. They have the options and need to choose one job that they want to fulfill.
  • Justification: (Wehmeyer, pg. 17, 2007)
  • Example Two: Leadership
  • Rationale: Volunteering which represents leadership. The students that volunteer show leadership by stepping out of their comfort zone and also being able to show the other students that volunteering is something very positive.
  • Justification: (Wehmeyer, pg. 70, 2007
  • Example Three: Problem Solving
  • Rationale: Students will problem solve while working in a group. They will have to come together and make decisions which promotes problem solving (ex- what to add in canva, what pictures represent this better)
  • Justification: (Wehmeyer, pg. 9, 2007)
Citations are needed for credibility

Teachers Resources:

Brain Pop Video


Lesson/Book Resources


Poster Interactive Activity


Roosevelt: The New Deal Video


Interactive Activities for the Great Depression


Photographic Resources for Great Depression


Bibliography of Personal Resources

  • Browder, D.M., & Spooner, F. (2011). Teaching students with moderate and severe disabilities. New York: The Guilford Press.
  • Dust Bowl Lesson Video. (n.d.). Retrieved April 6, 2017, from
  • Jensen , E. (n.d.). Chapter 4. Movement and Learning. Retrieved April 9, 2017, from
  • Lapsansky-Werner, E. J. (2008). Prentice Hall United States History. Boston, MA: Pearson/Prentice Hall.
  • Learning Ally - Support for Dyslexia and Learning Disabilities. (n.d.). Retrieved April 9, 2017, from
  • Lied, K., & Ernst, L. C. (2002). Potato: A Tale from the Great Depression. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society.
  • S. (2014, September 17). Great Depression Rap - Smart Songs. Retrieved April 8, 2017, from
  • Wehmeyer, M. (2007). Promoting Self-Determination in Students with Developmental Disabilities. Retrieved from
Created By
Erin J.


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