Use this standalone 45-min. lesson to expose your students to the realities of life for people on the poverty line. This one-page PDF worksheet has students work in teams to two to solve a daily dilemma facing a family of four living on minimum wage. The worksheet includes a modern scenario, discussion of wages/household needs, and a detailed price list of groceries. Using math and problem-solving skills, students will devise a variety of solutions to help these family members meet their daily needs. This part of the activity usually takes about 25 minutes and emphasizes the real-world, critical-thinking skills that we need to include in our Common Core-aligned classrooms.
After the team problem-solving work is done, students are giving a writing prompt to complete individually. I give students 10 minutes for this reflective writing assignment.
Finally, launch a full-group discussion about the challenges that the students faced and their creative solutions. Teams are always eager to show how their daily living plan is the best one given the limited options. This conversation will take at least 10 minutes, though students often want to talk more as we are racing to beat the bell at the end of the hour.
I use this worksheet with Great Depression-era literature, such as Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath, and To Kill a Mockingbird. However, it would work equally as well with ANY novel dealing with issues of poverty. It’s also an appropriate activity for history teachers who want to personalize the plight of tight economics, such as in a study of the 1930s or modern recessions.
Please note that this lesson is included in my money-saving FOUR WEEK UNIT covering Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men and my FIVE WEEK UNIT covering Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. No need to purchase this lesson separately if you have either of these budget-minded bundles.
This item is also included in my English 9-10 full-year curriculum. If you already own the full-year download, please do not purchase this item here individually. If you’d like to receive this item plus everything else needed to teach 180 days of English 9 or English 10 at a deeply discounted price, click here to learn more about the full-year curriculum download.
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