EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all About It!

Author: Sara Chavarria
Editor: Stephanie Nardei, MLS

Time: 4 class periods
Photocopy all handouts
Materials: Handout 1-The Jungle text
Handout 2-Bitter Cry of Children text
Handout 3-The Jungle character list
Handout 4- Matrix

This Explain lesson takes the information learned from the previous lesson and in a more in-depth manner investigates the regulatory reforms that began taking place during the Progressive Era due to muckraker literature. The final product students will be responsible for is a list of regulatory reforms with dates and descriptions of how they changed the workplace.

Students will be able to:
1. Synthesize information on increasing regulatory reforms during the Progressive Era through individual research and presentation of material.

National Social Studies Standards
Historical Thinking Standards

  • Standard 2G: Draw upon visual data, literary, and musical sources.
  • Standard 4A: Formulate historical questions.
  • Standard 5A: Identify issues and problems in the past.

United States History Standards

  • Era 6 Standard 1: How the rise of corporations, heavy industry, and mechanized farming transformed the American people.
  • Era 6 Standard 3: The rise of the American labor movement and how political issues reflected social and economic changes.
  • Era 7 Standard 1: How Progressives and others addressed problems of industrial capitalism, urbanization, and political corruption.

Teacher Background
The reformers of the Progressive Era advocated the Efficiency Movement. Progressives assumed that anything old was encrusted with inefficient and useless practices. A scientific study of the problem would enable experts to discover the "one best solution." Progressives strongly opposed waste and corruption, and tended to assume that opponents were motivated by ignorance or corruption. They sought change in all policies at all levels of society, economy and government. Initially the movement was successful at local level, and then it progressed to state and gradually national. The reformers (and their opponents) were predominantly members of the middle class. Most were well educated, white, Protestants who lived in the cities. Catholics, Jews and African Americans had their own versions of the Progressive Movement.

Women came to the fore in the Progressive era and proved their value as social workers. The Progressives pushed for social justice, general equality and public safety, but there were contradictions within the movement, especially regarding race. The Catholics had their own version of the movement which they applied to their schools, colleges, and hospitals.

Resource Websites
The Jungle list of characters: http://www.bookrags.com/notes/jun/CHR.htm
John Spargo text: http://www.trinity.edu/departments/history/faculty/Miller/Progressive%20Era%20Readings/progressive_era_readings.htm
American Journalists: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAjournalists.htm
Progressive Era Readings:
Progressive Era on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_Era
America’s Library: http://www.americaslibrary.gov/cgi-bin/page.cgi/jb/progress
Progressive Era History Resources: http://www.snowcrest.net/jmike/progressive.html
Women in the Progressive Era: http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/travel/pwwmh/prog.htm
Digital History: http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/modules/progressivism/index.cfm
Lesson Plan on Progressive Era: http://home.earthlink.net/~gfeldmeth/lec.prog.html
Upton Sinclair: http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/sinclair.htm
The Bitter Cry of Our Children http://web.mala.bc.ca/davies/H321GildedAge/Spargo.BitterCryofChildren.1906.htm
John Spargo on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Spargo
Immigrants in the Meatpacking Industry http://www.hsl.creighton.edu/hsl/guides/Ethics-meat-packing.html



Days 1 & 2
1. At the end of the last lesson, the class identified that low wage, long hours, overcrowding and unsanitary conditions were workplace factors that threatened a worker’s health. Using the information gleaned from the last lesson’s research activity, students should be able to formulate questions that the previous lesson raised.

2. On an overhead write down student questions. (Below are some of the topics they might cover.)
Possible questions that students might offer:

-Should there be a limit on the number of hours a person works each week? Why or why not?
-What is a fair wage?
-How is a minimum wage calculated?
-Should every citizen of the US have access to an education? Including working children?
-Should workers have the right to be protected in the work place?
-Should workers be compensated when injured?
-How can these rights, if adopted, be regulated?
-Are unions good for the worker?

3. Give students the following information: During the first 15 years of the 20th century (The Progressive Era) these questions were being raised as well. They were being raised by Progressive activists and muckrakers who urged for workplace regulations.

4. Take time with students to define the two words in their notes:

a. Progressive: ask for student input. Problems? Have them use their books.
b. Muckrakers: ask for student input. (Use textbooks for help)
(Note that the progressives and muckrakers also addressed other topics of political and social reform.)

5. Put students in groups of three. Give each group a copy of Handout 1 (2 parts) and Handout 2. Explain that these writings are examples of the work of the era. As they read they should consider whether there is a correlation between writings by Progressive activists, the muckrakers and regulation reform. Handout 1 introduces some of the text from Upton Sinclair’s novel The Jungle. It has been divided into two parts that tell the story of a different person at different jobs. Handout 2 introduces students to some of John Spargo’s text from The Bitter Cry of the Children. Have them divide the material equally. They might want to exchange material at some point to read at least two of the texts. Give students time to read the material in class. If they do not finish, continue the following day (or assign as homework if enough copies are made). As they read they are to add additional questions to their list that may be triggered by these descriptions. Handout 3 is to be available for reference so that the students understand who the characters in Sinclair’s novel are.

6. When done have them share their additional questions with the class. The teacher will add new questions to the list on the overhead.

Days 3
7. Having read what sort of information muckrakers exposed, have students conduct one day of research via texts and internet into how worker-related regulation took effect in the 20th century, including labor union information. They must identify regulatory reforms with dates which took place locally, statewide, and finally at the national level for the industry they had researched in the previous lesson. With each regulatory reform they identify, they must have a brief description of what it regulated and how. All materials will go into their notes.

Day 4
8. When done, they will share the information with the class through oral presentations (no more than 5 minutes). The class as a whole will fill out Handout 4 and construct a list of regulations with dates and descriptions.

9. End with the following questions:

Look at your list of questions. What questions seem to have been addressed with the regulatory reforms of the Progressive Eras? Which have not been addressed? Put a check mark next to any that have been addressed by reforms. Take note of any that are left over.

If applicable

Embedded Assessment
Oral presentations and matrix.

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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