This assignment asks students to write letters as if they are living during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression and are leaving their homes in the Great Plains to seek work in California. Through this letter, students are asked to creatively show an understanding of the era’s major issues and an American’s typical experience.
First, students are asked to research suggested topics related to the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, such as major news events, typical living conditions, reasons for leaving and staying, etc. Then, they are told to create a persona. Finally, they are asked to organize and repurpose their research into an informative narrative.
The assignment includes a template with guiding questions that students may choose to answer. This rubric consists of 4 categories, each with five criteria to be met. The products can be ranked as high, medium, or low.
I use this assignment in my American literature course, prior to reading John Steinbeck's work. However, it could also be used in an American history class during a unit on the Dust Bowl or the Great Depression.