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Teacher's Guide: Hints for the Active Learning Questions


  1. You may want to review the text, images, and songs listed here as a class rather than individually.

  2. Before beginning this activity, you might want to have students point out Appalachia and the Appalachian Mountains on a wall map of the United States, along with the states in which they are located.


  1. An important source of data is the U.S. Census Bureau, including its
    Mini Historical Statistics. You might want to use appropriate songs from the Carter family as background for the presentation. You also might want to include a timeline of a few key events of the Depression years -- or review the timeline shown here as a way of introducing students to the Depression.

  2. Web-based sources of relevant data include the latest government statistics on poverty, the most recent government-defined poverty line, historical data on what share of poor people have jobs, and other historical data on poverty. In addition to the sample questions given here, which concern factual issues on poverty, you also might want to include some questions concerning people's attitudes toward poverty, such as whether people are poor mostly for reasons beyond their control or because of their own lack of effort.


  1. As part of this activity, you might want to discuss certain lyrics as a class. In Worried Man Blues, for example, what does the narrator mean by "I'm worried now but I won't be worried long"? In Gold Watch and Chain, what is meant by "It's a face that is false but is fair"?

  2. You might also ask whether male and female students tend to have similar taste in music.


  1. You might precede this activity by holding a class discussion on what aspects of life today might be of greatest interest to future historians. The 1920s are often remembered as the "Jazz Age," the 1930s were dominated by the Depression, and the first half of the 1940s was dominated by World War II; will today be remembered as the era of the Internet, or globalization, or terrorism, or something different?

  2. An extension of this activity would be to discuss whether the "culture of celebrity" affects the quality of the nation's political leaders. For example, do you think someone like George Washington or Abraham Lincoln could win the presidency today?

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