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Accessible English Learner Lesson Plan - Esperanza Rising & the Great Depression

Published on Tue, 10/01/2019

A woman with tired children leaning on each shoulder looks worried as puts her hand to her face in a black and white photo.
With a focus on migrant workers and the Great Depression, the following lesson plan uses the novel Esperanza Rising and primary source materials from the Library of Congress to illustrate the immense impact on farm workers

The novel Esperanza Rising, by Pam Muñoz Ryan, offers an immigrant story that can engage all students in themes of loss of home, fairness to workers, and struggle in new situations. It is available in Spanish (print and audio versions) as Esperanza renace. Set in the Great Depression, it is an entry point to historical inquiry, and the following lesson has been written with access for English Learners in mind. (For additional resources for English Learners, see the website Colorin colorado.

Lesson activities on the first day of instruction include analyzing notable primary source images from the Great Depression including Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother” and classifying quotes from Esperanza Rising into categories based on the characters' thoughts and feelings regarding the economic conditions of the era. On the second day of activities students revisit quotes from Esperanza Rising, this time separating the quotes into two categories: advantages and disadvantages of striking during the Great Depression. The lesson culminates in a summative assessment where students write a paragraph considering how the primary source documents offered provide a better understanding of the setting of Esperanza Rising. Such an assessment creates a meaningful connection between visual representations of the era and the text of the novel. This lesson offers a wealth of resources for English Language Learner and special education instruction including a Universal Design for Learning Chart, Brick and Mortar Vocabulary, and an extensive list of accommodations and differentiation strategies. Recommendations for co-teaching roles and paraprofessional and support staff within the classroom make the activities within this lesson plan accessible for all students.

View more details, and download or access the lesson plan online. 

Emerging America brings this lesson to you thanks to the outstanding primary sources and materials provided by the Library of Congress.

Karen Albano

former History eNews Editor, Emerging America
Karen Albano worked with Emerging America from 2015-2020, contributing to many facets of the program including developing curriculum, improving the accessibility of the website to educators, overseeing social media outreach, and editing the History eNews.