Social Sundays: An Era Divided - the 1920s


The roaring 20s is a fantastic era to get U.S. history students thinking about a division of experiences and viewpoints.  While known as the "roaring 20s" and often portrayed as an era of parties, there was also a large portion of the United States that was living in poverty already and who were not living the "high life."  There was an ideological divide in the United States.  It was further exacerbated by policies and technology of the day.  

We study the clashing ideologies, inequity and changes.  One of the major topics to explore this division is immigration and nativism.  This topic is especially salient to my students and to modern times.

The immigration activity is divided into 3 parts:

  • Immigration inquiry
  • Gathering knowledge i.e. background Information
  • Analysis activity

Part 1: Inquiry
We start with short answer survey in which students reflect on what makes an American, the role of immigrants as part of the American quilt, and the fear that immigrants generate among some natives.  Students work alone and then share their responses in small groups.  This is only about students' current viewpoints and not a reflection on the state of immigration in the 1920s.

Part 2: Background

Now students learn about who was coming to the United States in the 1920s and reactions to their arrival.  Nativism is a new term for many students and is an important concept.  Information is a combination of readings and charts.

Part 3: Analysis
We close the lesson with an analysis activity.  Students use their understanding of the varying viewpoints towards immigrants to analyze political cartoons and complete a mini-project related to immigration and nativism.  By the end of this analysis students have worked within multiple levels of Bloom's taxonomy.  This is just one of many activities related to the divided world of the 1920s.  Other topics in our 1920s unit can be seen to the left.
















This is part of a series of posts for teaching 20th century U.S. History.  Topics in the series include:

The Progressive Era
World War I
The 1920s
The Harlem Renaissance
The Great Depression
World War II
The Cold War
The 1950s
The 1960s
The Civil Rights Movement






Social Sundays is a bi-weekly post sharing tips, ideas, resources, and products for teaching social studies.  If you have questions or think there is something I should share, you can leave me a message in the comments below or at the store in the question and answer section.  

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