Grade 7 History students studied the Great Depression through an interdisciplinary simulation in history, math, and English. Each student took on a particular role and developed an authentic character through crafting journal entries and keeping a personal ledger. Representing a variety of regions, professions, lifestyles, and socioeconomic levels, the characters were subject to the circumstances and challenges of the time period. For many, life during the Great Depression was hard, desperate, and unfair. Students were tasked with reflecting those circumstances and challenges in their character development.
Students went on field trips to Merrill Gardens—where they had the opportunity to talk to residents about their experiences during the Great Depression—and to Goodwill to shop for clothing on a budget that reflected each character's financial situation. The following week, students held a Town Hall meeting during which they presented—in character—their ideas for New Deal programs. It was a spirited enactment and an opportunity for students to engage in conversation about their questions, struggles, and observations as they worked to gain an understanding of this critical time in our country's history.