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.
This two-day lesson is based on students acquiring a better understanding of the effects the Great Depression had on migrant workers and their children as portrayed in the novel: Esperanza Rising. The use of photographs, as primary sources, will support understanding of this time period, as well as provoking oral discussion among English Language Learner students. As a summative assessment, students are asked to write a paragraph explaining their increased understanding of the time period through the use of primary source documents.
This lesson guides students in exploring the Great Depression of 1920-1940 with a focus on the Dust Bowl, Migrant Workers, and the status of people with disabilities during this time period. The lesson is conceived as a research project in preparation for reading John Steinbeck’s novella “Of Mice and Men”, and could also be an interdisciplinary unit linking American History, English Literature, and Disability History. It can be co-taught by the subject teacher and the Special Education Teacher.