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Lesson Title
Causes of the Great Depression

Grade Level
United States History – 11th grade

Estimated Time Required
(Provide the estimated instructional time necessary for the lesson plan. First give the number of
days required and then the time required each day in half-hour segments.)
Number of Days: 2
Number of Half-Hour Segments per Day: 3 half hour segments per day

Author Information
Name: Heather Hahn
School: Southwest Guilford High School

Brief Description of the Lesson
Students will understand what triggered the largest economic decline in United States History
and evaluate the importance of the causes.

Lesson Plan Objectives
Content Objectives: Students will be able to
1. Identify the causes of the Great Depression.
2. Evaluate the importance of each of the causes of the Great Depression.

Skill Objectives: Students will be able to
1. Detect cause and effect.
2. Utilize different types of technology.
3. Predict possible outcomes.

North Carolina Social Studies Curriculum Alignment
Access the Table of Contents for the North Carolina Social Studies Curriculum at
Click on the appropriate grade level. Cut and Paste the appropriate Competency Goal(s) and
COMPETENCY GOAL 9: Prosperity and Depression (1919-1939) - The learner will
appraise the economic, social, and political changes of the decades of "The
Twenties" and "The Thirties."
      9.01 Elaborate on the cycle of economic boom and bust in the 1920's and 1930's.

Print and Non-print Materials
Print Materials (textbook segments or readings)

The American Pageant – pages 767-772
Copies of Stock Market Simulation Worksheets available from

Non-print Materials (videos, images, etc.)

The Grapes of Wrath
It’s A Wonderful Life
Computer Access for all students

Supplies (paper, notecards, scissors, etc.)

Stock Market Simulation Worksheets from
Computer with PowerPoint

Technology Needs
(Include computer hardware and software, audio-visual components, and internet sites needed to
teach the lesson.)

Computer Lab Access
LCD Projector

Pre-Lesson Expectations
(Provide a brief statement of the context for the lesson. Where should the lesson fit in the
sequence of the class? What should a student know before beginning the lesson?)

Students should be aware of fluctuations in the United States business cycle. They should
understand the strength of the post -World War I economy and the expansion of consumerism
that occurred in the Twenties.

(Provide a step-by-step sequence of instructions for the teacher to teach the lesson. It is very
important to be as specific as possible. A teacher should be able to follow the sequence and know
not only what they should be doing in each step but also what the expectations are for the
students in the appropriate steps.)

   1. Have students read the section of the book on the causes of the Great Depression the
      night before the lesson.
   2. Print out copies of the two forms from
      to give the students for the stock market simulation.
   3. Show the attached PowerPoint presentation and explain the causes of the Great
   4. In the computer lab, give the class the web address and instruct them to follow the
      directions on the website. Students should make careful choices about how to invest their
      money. The teacher should monitor the room carefully and make sure everyone is
      working. Students simply have to follow the prompts given to them on the screen.
   5. Collect the worksheets once everyone has completed the simulation. A prize may be
      offered to the student who earns the most money (BUT the simulation is designed so that
      everyone will end up with $0 regardless of their investments). Offering a prize may serve
      as motivation for the students.
   6. Discuss the results of the simulation. Emphasize the importance of over-speculation and
      buying on the margin to the collapse of the stock market
   7. Show approximately the first 15 minutes of The Grapes of Wrath to demonstrate the
      plight of the farmers. The scene showing the bulldozing of a farmhouse is particularly
      effective for showing the result if a farmer was unable to pay his debts. A short clip from
      It’s a Wonderful Life can also be shown to show the impact of the stock market crash on
      banks. Show the scene immediately following George and Mary’s wedding until the
      closing of the bank when there is only $2 remaining.
   8. To evaluate the students’ learning, assign an essay based on the causes of the Great
      Depression. Students must rank the causes of the Depression in order of importance
      ending with the most significant cause. They must be able to justify their conclusions
      with evidence. There is no single correct answer, but evidence must be present to
      demonstrate their understanding.

(Provide an assessment plan to allow the teacher to evaluate a student’s progress toward meeting
the objective(s) of the lesson. The assessment must include a rubric that tells a teacher how to
grade the proposed assessment tool.)

Assessment will be in two different forms for this lesson. The first form of assessment will be
collecting the worksheets from the stock market simulation. A quiz or daily grade may be taken
to determine if students followed instructions and completed the simulation. The second form of
assessment will be the essay determining the importance of the causes of the Great Depression.
There is an attached rubric to grade the essay.

Supplemental Information for Teachers
Related Internet Resources
(Provide web addresses related to the lesson plan that a teacher might use as background or
supplementary material for the lesson.)

(List the filenames for charts, presentations, or other materials created for the lesson.)

Causes of the Great Depression Essay and Rubric
Depression Power Point

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