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Lesson Plan: The Steps of Foreclosure

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In this lesson, students will watch a short film about the clean-out of a foreclosed home, research the steps of foreclosure and organize these steps in a graphic organizer. For background information on the process of foreclosure and current foreclosure statistics, see the Resources section of this lesson plan.

Note: Students in your classroom may have experienced personally foreclosure on their family homes, a process that often results in fear, sadness and disruption. Please treat the subject in a sensitive manner.

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Students will:

  • Determine the rate of foreclosures in their area.
  • Discuss the impact that foreclosures can have on the nation's economy and political landscape.
  • Research and explain the general steps of the foreclosure process.


SUBJECT AREAS: Economics, Social Studies, Current Events


ESTIMATED TIME NEEDED:One 50-minute class period

The lesson features the short film Trash-out (length 5:31), which shows a company emptying a house of the belongings of the family that used to live there.


  1. Distribute the Viewing Guide and review the key terms. Then, show the class the short film Trash-out.
  2. Explain that in recent times, home foreclosures have reached record highs. Since 2007, approximately 3 million Americans have lost their homes. Show students the most recent statistics on foreclosures in your area with the RealtyTrac Map of Foreclosures. (Click on your state and county to see local trends.) Alternatively, refer to the PBS NewsHour Patchwork Nation map that illustrates monthly foreclosure rate reports by county. (Each map presents data differently.)
  3. Discuss in general terms the type of impact that foreclosures can have on the nation's economy and political landscape. How does a high foreclosure rate affect everyone?
  4. Give each student a copy of the graphic organizer handout and ask the students to use the following websites (or others that they find through research) to organize and explain the four general steps of the foreclosure process:

Students can be assessed on:

  • Complete responses on the handouts.
  • Understanding of economics vocabulary used in this lesson, such as "market," "mortgage," "foreclosure," "short sale," "auction," "default" and others.
  • Being able to explain the steps of foreclosure on an exam.

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FRONTLINE. "Inside the Meltdown."
This FRONTLINE report explains how sub-prime mortgages and defaulted residential assets contributed to the recent financial meltdown in the United States. A companion lesson plan focuses on mortgages and individual borrowing.

How Stuff Works. "How Foreclosures Work."
This article breaks down the foreclosure process; addresses the effects of foreclosure; and provides useful links to related resources on topics such as sub-prime mortgages and mortgage-backed securities.

RealtyTrac. "Foreclosure Rate Heat Map."
The RealtyTrac trend center features a graphic map of the United States that displays the national rate of foreclosures. Click on a state and then a county to find similar statistics for a specific community.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. "Report to Congress on the Root Causes of the Foreclosure Crisis." (PDF file)
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development submitted this report to Congress in January 2010. It discusses foreclosure trends, provides a literature review and summarizes the policy response to the foreclosure crisis.

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These standards are drawn from "Content Knowledge," a compilation of content standards and benchmarks for K-12 curriculum by McRel (Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning).

Behavioral Studies

Standard 4: Understands conflict, cooperation and interdependence among individuals, groups and institutions.


Standard 14: Understands issues concerning the disparities between ideals and reality in American political and social life.


Standard 3: Understands the concept of prices and the interaction of supply and demand in a market economy.

Standard 6: Understands the roles government plays in the United States economy.

Standard 8: Understands basic concepts of United States fiscal policy and monetary policy.

Family/Consumer Sciences

Standard 4: Understand how knowledge and skills related to consumer and resources management affect the well-being of individuals, families and society.

Language Arts

Standard 9: Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media.

Cari Ladd, M.Ed., is an educational writer with a background in secondary education and media development. Previously, she served as PBS Interactive's director of education, overseeing the development of curricular resources tied to PBS programs, the PBS TeacherSource website (now PBS Teachers) and online teacher professional development services. She has also taught in Maryland and Northern Virginia.