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STORE WARS: When Wal-Mart Comes To Town


For Teachers
Lessons: 1 | 2 | 3

Teacher's Guide: Introduction

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Welcome to the STORE WARS lesson plans. These lessons will allow students to understand the various cost/benefit issues and problems that city planners and city officials in general face when approached with a major decision such as approving zoning for a big-box superstore. Students may also role-play persons involved in the Ashland, Virginia Wal-Mart story in a "talk show" format, to demonstrate their knowledge of the implications of this issue as seen through the eyes of the participants.

These lessons are directed toward grades 6 through 12, for use in the following subject areas: social studies and economics.


LESSON ONE: The impact of Big-Box Stores on Ashland, Virginia (and on your town)
Students will learn about the impact and effect a big-box department store chain has on a community by analyzing the Ashland, Virginia situation. They will also analyze how chain stores impact their own communities.

LESSON TWO: Role-Playing the Ashland/Wal-Mart Story
In this activity, students will role-play persons involved in the Ashland/Wal-Mart story in a "talk show" format, demonstrating their knowledge of the implications of this issue as seen through the eyes of the participants.

LESSON THREE: Should We Let Them In? A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Allowing a New Chain Store Into Town
Students will summarize the possible costs and benefits of a Wal-Mart opening in their town in economic, social and environmental terms, and write an assessment for their town's mayor.

About the film:
STORE WARS, written, produced and directed by Micha Peled, follows the one-year conflict that polarizes Ashland, Virginia, population 7,200, when Wal-Mart decides it wants to build a megastore on the edge of town. The ensuing debate pits neighbor against neighbor in a battle as protracted and bitter as those fought in the Old West between ranchers and farmers over land-use issues. The struggle between conflicting versions of the American dream has on one side those who want to preserve their seemingly idyllic small-town way of life versus those who believe in the positive economic benefits Wal-Mart promises. A truly American story, STORE WARS is about the right of a community to determine its own future: Which values are most important? Who gets to decide?

About the authors:
Michael Hutchison is a social studies teacher at Lincoln High School in Vincennes, Indiana. He has been recognized nationally for his use of cable television technology in the classroom, and has been recognized as a "Champion Teacher" by Cable in the Classroom. He has contributed several lessons featured on PBS Web pages, and is a member of the PBS TeacherSource Advisory Group.

Betsy Hedberg is a teacher and freelance curriculum writer who has published lesson plans on a variety of subjects. She received her Secondary Teaching Credential in Social Studies from Loyola Marymount University and her Master of Arts in Geography from UCLA. In addition to curriculum writing, she presents seminars and training sessions to help teachers incorporate the Internet and other technologies into their classrooms. She presented a seminar entitled The World Wide Web Can Help Your Students Think Critically at the California Council for the Social Studies 1998 annual conference. In 1997, she founded Curriculum Adventures, a curriculum development, publishing and consulting business.

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