Academic Controversy in the History Classroom This workshop is sponsored in part by the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Eastern Region Program, coordinated by Waynesburg University. Historical Question: Were citizens of the Plains region better off migrating to California during the Dust Bowl?Author: Andrew SpearsClass/Grade Level: High SchoolOverview:The Dust Bowl occurred in the Plains region of the United States during the 1930s. Millions of Plainsresidents migrated to California because they heard there was work there picking fruit. Once they gotthere however, they realized that the workforce there was oversaturated and the migrants were notgetting work, and the ones that were getting work would work for low wages. The migrants facedmany of the same hardships such as no work and no food that they would have faced had theystayed at their homes. Added to the migrants’ hardships was the fact that Californians did not wantthe migrants in their state. This Structured Academic Controversy lesson will be used to show thedifferent perspectives of migrants’ choices during the Dust Bowl.Document Summary:Primary Source 1 is an audio file from Mrs. Flora Robertson. In it she describes the Dust Storms shewitnessed. This was a common description of many Midwesterners. This source would be used asinitiation for the students to the lesson. It would be used to show one reason as to why migrantschose to leave their homes.Document 2 is lyrics to a song called “Arizona” by Jack Bryant written in 1940. The lyrics address thecentral theme of this activity which is to show the varying circumstances that went into a migrants’decision to go to California. Jack Bryant wrote that he went to California because he had nothing leftat home. But when he got to California, he realized all of the hardships in California and wanted to goback home. This document would be used to show that their life in California was just as hard as itmay have been back home.Document 3 is a photo of a migrant home in California. I would add a disclaimer that said that thiswas a home of a migrant in California. This source would be used with the next photo of a home ofMidwesterners that did not migrate to California. This photo would be used to support the idea thatMidwesterners would have been better off staying home.
Document 4 is a picture of a home in a Midwestern town. I would ass a disclaimer that stated thatthis is a home in a Midwestern town. This source would be used for the students to compare andcontrast to Document 3 of a home in California of migrants. This document would be used to supportthe idea that migrants were better off staying homeDocument 5 is a poem recorded by Lois Judd who was a migrant. The poem is about her strugglesmigrating as she was looking for cotton picking jobs. In it she states that she would travel from stateto state looking for work, and could not find anything permanent. After all of her trials, she finallyended up in California where they found friendly people, but one day soon she would return toArkansas. At the end she was asked if she really wanted to go back to Arkansas and she stated thatshe wanted to then but she did not want to now. This would support the side that migrants were rightin going to California.Document 6 is a poem by Flora Robertson entitled Why We Come To Californy. In it she states thereasons why they had to leave their home and be used as closure because the lesson was startedwith an interview by Flora Robertson. This document would be used to support the idea that migrantswere better off going to California because the dust storm took all that they had, and they could startoff new in California.Procedure (80 minutes): 1. Overview of the objectives of this lesson. (10 minutes) 2. Assignment of positions taken. (30 minutes) a. Assign groups of four and assign arguments to each team of two. b. In each group, teams read and examine the Document Packet c. Each student completes the Preparation part of the Capture Sheet (#2), and works with their partner to prepare their argument using supporting evidence. d. Students should summarize your argument in #3. 3. Position Presentation (10 minutes) a. Team 1 presents their position using supporting evidence recorded and summarized on the Preparation part of the Capture Sheet (#2 & #3) on the Preparation matrix. Team 2 records Team 1’s argument in #4. b. Team 2 restates Team 1’s position to their satisfaction. c. Team 2 asks clarifying questions and records Team 1’s answers. d. Team 2 presents their position using supporting evidence recorded and summarized on the Preparation part of the Capture Sheet (#2 & #3) on the Preparation matrix. Team 1 records Team 2’s argument in #4. e. Team 1 restates Team 2’s position to their satisfaction. f. Team 1 asks clarifying questions and records Team 2’s answers. 4. Consensus Building (10 minutes) a. Team 1 and 2 put their roles aside. b. Teams discuss ideas that have been presented, and figure out where they can agree or where they have differences about the historical questionClosure:For closure I would state the pros and cons of migrating to California. After I would state that the duststorm made the Midwest inhabitable and the migrants had no choice but to go to California. I wouldshow them some of the letters the migrants got that stated all the opportunity California had to offerand end by saying California was better than staying at home./
Assessment:Students will be assessed by writing a three page paper stating why migrants had no choice but to goto California.Differentiation:This lesson could be differentiated for an honors class by giving more documents from other places inthe United States to compare and contrast the effects of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl indifferent parts of the United States.
DOCUMENT PACKET Document 1As the Dust Bowl took hold of the Midwest, many Midwestern citizens chose to leavetheir homes for California because they believed there was more opportunity inCalifornia.Flora: We looked in the north and thought it was a blue norther a comin. Such a hugeblack cloud just looked like a smoke out of a train stack or something.Interviewer: (This was about what time?)Flora: About four oclock, nineteen hundred and thirty four.And, ah, it just came a rollin over and when it got nearer to the house we was all afriadand we ran into the storm celler because we thought it was a storm. And we lit thelamp and it was just so dark in there that we couldnt see one another. We just had,even with the lamp lit, and we just choked and smothered. And my husband was outafter the cows and he stumbled up against the barbed wire fence and he followed thefence til he come to the house. That was the way he was able to get to the house.And we had to tie wet rags over our mouths. And just to keep from smothering, weddip cloths into buckets of cold water and tie it over our mouths down the cellar. Andthat one lasted so fierce for about two hours and then we took courage and seeing wewasnt going to blow away and went in the house and we wet blankets and hung overthe windows. And then after the first one, of course, we were scared awfully bad. Andthe old timers said theyd never seen nothing like that.Flora: Our house was sealed but that dust come through somehow. Even thosestucco houses by all around the doors and the windows. The dust would be all piledso high and you just had to mop real good when it was over to get it out. You couldntget it out no other way.Interviewer: (How long did it last?)Flora: Well, sometimes a real bad one would last for a half a day. Sometimes it wouldbe a week before we would see the sun. It was just dark. And sometimes the sodwould look black. Sometimes it would look red. It was according to which way the windcomes whether it was the red dust that was blowing or the black dirt or according tothe way that the storm would come. And we had cattle. We had cows taht we gavesixty dollars and some ninety dollars in dear old money. And it killed them that was outin that. And we would cut their lungs open and it would look just like a mud pack orsomething. And it just really showed it was the mud.Interviewer: (First you had the flood, then the grasshoppers, and then the duststorms?)
Flora: Yes. And we waited. It was about five years before we just really give up. Butevery year wed begin going back. And such a, in debt so much we thought we nevercould get out.Interviewer: (I think you would want to come to California.)Flora: Well, you get afraid to stay in that. Theres too many have dust pneumonia anddying. And it kills too many people.Interviewer: (And thats when you wrote that little poem about the dust storm? Couldwe hear that? Would you mind reading it to us?)Flora: Well, Ill try but I dont know how good it is.I came to Oklahoma before it was a state.Among the shining hills, I roamed from morn to late.We were happy, healthy people, proud to live in that state.One dark, gloomy day, what a sight we did see.A thick smothering dust cloud spread over the prairie.Killed many poeple and almost smothered me.We waited and hoped almost five years through.More people and cattle died. More dust storms come too.Then we decided something we had better do.We loaded a few things into an old car.Hoping west to go very far.We landed at the government camp on a flat tire.So tired and hungry, hearts thick and dirty too.Here we found food and shelter, too.The California people sure are good to you.In tents we are camped like Abram of old.Thank God for a country and a lands that free.Were so glad our flags the red, white and blue.Link to audio file:http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/toddbib:@field%28DOCID+@lit%284120a1%29%29Source: Interview with Flora Robertson.
Document 2As people started heading to California they realized that their hopes werenot enough for them to survive there. Many people started to questionwhether they should have left their homes in the first place.We were out in ArizonaOn the Painted Desert groundWe had no place to call our own homeAnd work could not be found.We started to CaliforniaBut our money , h it didnt last longI want to be in OklahomaBe back in my old home.A way out on the desertWhere water is hard to findIts a hundred miles to TempeAnd the wind blows all the time.You will burn up in the day timeYet youre cold when the sun goes downI wanna be in OklahomaBe back in my home town.You people in OklahomaIf you ever come westHave your pockets full of moneyAnd you better be well dressed.If you wind up on the desertYoure gonna wish that you were deadYoull be longing for OklahomaAnd your good old feather bed Vocabulary Tempe: City in ArizonaSource: Poem by Jack Bryant, Arizona, 1940. http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/todd:@field%28DOCID+st002%29
Document 3Once the settlers got to California they realized that finding work and livingthere was more difficult than they expected. Many migrants were in similarsituations that they would have been had they stayed home.Source: Picture of a migrant’s home in California.http://memory.loc.gov/service/pnp/fsa/8b31000/8b31700/8b31761v.jpg
Document 4Once people got to California, they realized that the homes they made inCalifornia were not too different from their homes they left.Source: Abandoned home in Arizona.http://memory.loc.gov/service/pnp/fsa/8b38000/8b38200/8b38292v.jpg
Document 5Although Migrants did miss their homes, it was a common held notion thattheir lives are better off in California than they would have been in theMidwest.Follow link for audio file:http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/toddbib:@field%28DOCID+@lit%284096b1%29%29Source: Poem by Lois Judd.
Document 6The reason migrants did not stay home was because they had absolutelynothing at home and believed that they could start off anew in California.Here comes the dust-stormWatch the sky turn blue.You better git out quickOr it will smother you.Here comes the grasshopper,He comes a-jumpin high.He jumps away across the stateAn never bats an eye.Here comes the riverit sure knows its stuff.It takes our home and cattle,An leaves us feelin tough.Californy, Californy,Here I come too.With a coffee pot and skillet,Im a-comin to you!Source: Poem by Flora Roberston, Why We Come To Californy, 1940.http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/todd:@field%28DOCID+st116%29 Some of the language and phrasing in these documents have been modified from the originals.
CAPTURE SHEET Don’t forget the rules of a successful academic controversy! 1. Practice active listening. 2. Challenge ideas, not each other 3. Try your best to understand the other Were citizens of the Plains region better off migrating positions to California during the Dust Bowl? 4. Share the floor: each person in a pair MUST have an opportunity to speak 5. No disagreeing until consensus-‐Preparation: building as a group of four 1. Highlight your assigned position. Yes: Citizens of the Plains region were better off Migrating to California. No: Citizens of the Plains would have been better off staying home. 2. Read through each document searching for support for your side’s argument. Use the documents to fill in the chart (Hint: Not all documents support your side, find those that do):Document What is the main idea of this document? What details support your position? # 3. Work with your partner to summarize your arguments for your position using the supporting documents you found above:
Position Presentation: 4. You and your partner will present your position to your opposing group members. When you are done, you will then listen to your opponents’ position. While you are listening to your opponents’ presentation, write down the main details that they present here: Clarifying questions I have for the opposing partners: How they answered the questions:Consensus Building: 5. Put your assigned roles aside. Where does your group stand on the question? Where does your group agree? Where does your group disagree? Your consensus answer does not have to be strictly yes, or no. We agree: We disagree: Our final consensus: