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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Teaching The Jungle and Food Today

As I said in an earlier post, I do not like to teach a topic that I cannot connect to events today for my students.  One of the important units I like to do, because it is very relevant, is a look at Upton Sinclair's The Jungle.  You can find an online version of the text, but you can go to my resources section and find a copy of the chapters I use with my class.

The novel is quite long, and I do not use the entire text.  I select chapters from the novel (special thanks to Meg Guanci and Brian Deveney for helping me select) and use it to teach students about:

  • the time period--1900s
  • the disadvantages the working class had
  • the way immigrants were treated
  • the "American Dream" and what really happened
  • food at the time
  • industrialization and the ideas of scientific management
We get through the early chapters and I ask students to create their own discussion questions.  You can see example student generated discussion questions on my resource page and then I like to show them the film from California KPBS called Food: A Project Envision Documentary.  I know that there are other films, like Food, Inc. and Fast Food Nation but this documentary covers a great deal of material in 27 minutes and it connects to my students in the San Diego area.  

You can spend anywhere from three class periods on this topic to a project that could take four weeks.  Notice this-- no textbook readings! 


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