The Conditions of Today

Author: Matthew Tidwell

Time: 2-3 Class Periods
Library time to conduct research
Materials: All resources provided by school library

This lesson allows students to compare discoveries made about working conditions for adult laborers during the Industrial Revolution to contemporary conditions. They will use available resources to search for contemporary non-fiction examples of unacceptable working conditions.

It is assumed students have already visited school library and collected their research and are confident in their use of resources.

Students will be able to:
1. Demonstrate their ability to use the library to research into current working conditions for the American worker.
2. Identify connections and compare findings about contemporary conditions and the in-class readings of The Jungle in a Venn diagram.

Strand 3
Concept 1
PO 4: Compare (and contrast) readings on the same topic, by explaining how authors reach the same or different conclusions based upon differences in evidence, reasoning, assumptions, purposes, beliefs, or biases

Teacher Background
The teacher should be familiar with school library resources. The students will take full advantage of these resources to complete assignment.

Resource Websites

None for this lesson.



1. Assign the task:

  • Using school library resources, research and find three contemporary examples of working conditions for the American worker.

2. Students should be given at least two days in the library for research.

3. Students should take specific notes on each article they find. Below are a few questions for students to consider. The teacher may delete or add.

  • Author and source of article?
  • Main topic of article?
  • What conditions were noted in the article?
  • What sources did the author use for commentary?

4. After couple days in the library, student return to classroom to complete the assignment.

5. With their notes, the students need to draw comparisons between the articles they found and the conclusions they made from the slide show on working conditions and the reading of Chapter 14 from The Jungle.

6. Have students develop a Venn diagram to record their findings. Encourage students to consider the main points/objectives in constructing the diagram.

7. Have a class discussion to allow students to share findings. Students should be persuaded to see similarities in other students’ comparisons.


Embedded Assessment

Students can be assessed by the insight on current and past working conditions made on the Venn diagram and the notes. The appropriateness of the examples found through research will demonstrate students’ research skills


PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: November 10, 2009
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