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School: Now and Then - Lesson Plan


School: Now and Then    

Collection:                 Outline for the Study of DeKalb County Rural Schools,

                                   1941/42-1956/57, NIU 44, 1/0044/01,

                                   IRAD, Regional History Center.


                                   Report of Classification, Standing, Advancement,

                                   and Attendance, 1916, 1918, 1/0041/01,

                                   IRAD, Regional History Center.



Standards:            CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.9

                                                Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary



Objective:                   The students will be able to compare and contrast their own school experiences with

                                    the experiences of students in the past.



Time Frame:                This lesson will take one day to present, it may be extended to two.



Essential Question:    What is the most significant difference between schools in the early and mid-twentieth

                                    century? What does that say about how life has changed in the past one hundred years?



 Evidence:                  Documents from the DeKalb County Rural Schools. 

                                   Current school handbooks from the school that the students attend.



Set Induction:             Post the question, “What is your typical daily school schedule?”  on the board or screen.

                                    Ask the student to write out their daily schedule with times posted and subjects noted.



Table of Contents

Download Lesson Plan

Historical Background



Hand Out: Compare and Contrast Chart

Documents from the Dekalb County Rural Schools

Flickr - Documents and Image Set

Historical Background

Historical Background:

The school district kept chronological records to aid the superintendent so that he could keep a record on the progress of the students, the number of days taught, attendance, cases of tardiness and other details. These documents reveal the circumstances and surroundings of the public school students of the past.




1.     A: The students will break into groups and examine their current student handbooks.

        B: The students will break into groups and examine the documents from 1916 and 1918.

        C: The students will break into groups and examine the documents from the 1940s and the 1950s.


2.     The students will formulate criteria to compare their documents, using the attached handout as a guide for

         doing so. 


3.     After evaluating the similarities of and the differences between your typical schooling experience and those

        of students in the past you will use your imagination to create a fictional student from the past, based off of

        the evidence in the documents.  The students  will either write a letter or create a diary entry in which they

        reveal their thoughts, ideas and feelings about their school day.  The letter or diary entry will be three to

        five paragraphs long.


Reflection and Summary:

         The students will present their diaries and letters to the class.




          Formative and informal:

                   Hand Out

         Summative and informal:

                   Diary entry or letter


Hand Out: Compare and Contrast Chart

Hand Out

School Now: 

Use your own daily and yearly schedules and any other characteristics from your own school’s current handbook and your own daily schedule.

School Then:

Choose either the 1920s or the 1940s to compare to your own schooling. Use characteristics from the schedules and yearly calendars.





























After you have compiles your lists, think about the following things:

1.      Are there more similarities or more differences between the two sets of characteristics?

2.      If there are more differences, concentrate upon contrasting the two time periods.  If there are more

         similarities, concentrate upon comparing the two time periods.



         Compare means to look at two or more things critically and see what they have in common.

         Contrast means to note that differences between two  or more things.


Download Lesson Plan