Consumerism in the 1920’s – Reflection

In some aspects I feel like I completed parts of my goals in this lesson on consumerism in the 1920’s. Going into the lesson, I wanted the students to be able to recognize how the common features and such of advertising that we still see and notice today started in the 1920’s after the first war. I wanted students to recognize how specific elements that commercials had that allowed us to remember them, such as the targeted audience, aspect of focus, and the overall message, still carry over today. I especially wanted them to also notice how the advertising game changed with the inclusion of both TV and radio. I felt like the students in the lesson were able to see that as they were able to connect to commercials from their childhoods that appealed because of these same characteristics. 

         I also feel like the goals weren’t met at the same time because I wasn’t able to be as focused on the specific aspects of consumerism and the specific examples of the characteristics. I also needed to be more organized and give proper preparation time and instructions to be able to get to everything in the lesson and to fully touch the important parts. This is the aspects that didn’t go as well. 

         What I learned that I could do is to be more specific and detailed on what I want to touch in order to better get to the main takeaway and message that I want to convey based on my lesson title. So, in the case of consumerism, my commercial example and what I asked the students to produce didn’t touch directly on specifically consumerism in the 1920’s. As a result, I can pick two or three themes from the era that you wanted to teach about later, maybe the role of women, the culture of youth, how the automobile was transforming America, and show, use, and teach/explain using these examples. I can also have given students the task of bringing in their videos of their commercials so we can be able to get the most out of that aspect of the lesson and to be able to get to the rest of the lesson to ensure its best effect. 

         In terms of my timing, it was kind of off and on, with parts being more on track than other parts. I feel like during the intro discussion of their commercials and their experiences, I was able to foster good discussion and the flow and timing was on track. The timing got a little off when I asked them to send in their own videos to my email, when I wasn’t prepared to do it and it showed when I scrambled to get my email and organize the gathering, opening, and playing of the videos. I feel like the timing and flow and delivery was awkward during the sharing and discussion of the videos. The timing and flow returned during showing the video on the 1920’s and having the discussion afterwards. Overall, even with the timing off, the workflow seemed pretty decent as student’s were on track and we got to the next thing. It just wasn’t great because we didn’t get to the last aspect of the lesson plan. 

1920’s Consumer culture

This lesson is a beginning lesson done at the beginning of the unit to introduce the students to advertising and period of consumerism that started to grow in the 1920’s. It is intended for an 8th grade social studies class.

In the lesson, we will be studying and covering actual examples of advertisements that came from the 1920’s and subsequent time periods. They will explore the archives of adds provided as a resource by Duke University. When looking at advertisements and commercialism in this period, there are a couple of key comprehension questions they will be exploring. These questions include: 1.) How they were sold, literally and figuratively, to the American public.  2.) Whom the advertisements targeted, and 3.) What attributes advertisers deemed most valuable: access to information, to entertainment, or to status? Students will also be exploring a short video that goes into further detail about the 1920’s and this period of consumerism.

To start off the lesson, the students will be asked to open a new, blank word document. The teacher will bring up and show the powerpoint, first bringing up the warm-up questions. The students will take five minutes or so to answer the warm up question in the document. We will then take a couple of minutes to share out loud. Next students will watch the short video clip on consumerism in the 1920’s that the teacher will play on the projector. After the video, the class will discuss quickly any observations from the video. Next, the teacher will share their example of the in class practice/product/example the students will be completing to demonstrate their understanding. After sharing the example, the students will then follow the link pasted below here under resources to the Duke archives resources for advertisements. Students will find and choose an advertisement. Once students have chosen an advertisement, they will follow the example provided by the teacher and answer the following three questions about the ad: 1.) How they were sold, literally and figuratively, to the American public.  2.) Whom the advertisements targeted, and 3.) What attributes advertisers deemed most valuable: access to information, to entertainment, or to status? After about 10 minutes, time permitting, students will show their examples. At the end of class, students will email their completed word document they filled out in class to my email:

Resources: (My Ad Example)

Woman’s Holy War


I really enjoyed working with both google forms here and combining it with the concept of historical thinking in this case. This gives students a more individualized and engaging way for them to practice historically analyzing and depicting an image or document.

I like this assignment most for providing a way of engaging with historical thinking more than anything else. Growing up in history classes, especially as I got into middle school, high school, and college, for the first time I began to get an understanding of how history was more than just memorizing facts and dates. I began to realize that history was more like being a detective and coding information, whether it be source, context, or any of the other five, to be able to reconstruct the story in ways that are more accessible to others. This can only be truly done if we teach students and take time to analyze documents using these historical thinking strategies. Also, in my personal experience, it is such a cool experience to be able to know an historical happening for more than just the bare bones of what it is. I always enjoyed being able to understand where something fit in context, what came before that led to it, and the effects that happen after. I would even go to say that for some, it may be more engaging and rewarding to be able to think historically to map out the whole picture rather than focusing and then forgetting certain individual pieces of the puzzle.

Diving Deeper into Historical Photos

Photo #1 – Umpires Catching Rain

Umpires looking up at the rain at a baseball game Source

Who: On the left we have the cap with the logo of the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team. On the right is a picture of a player in an old Pittsburgh Pirates Uniforms. So one can assume that this is a major league baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Photo #2 – Fireworks For Sale

Boy looking at fireworks for sale Source

Where: It is hard to see in this cropped picture of the sign that is tucked away behind the counter in the bigger picture. The letters on the sign when read backwards and upside-down spell out Oregon. So it can be a good educated guess that the photo is of a store located in Oregon.

Photo #3 – Barber and Shop

Barber standing in front of his shop Source

When: We see here in this cropped picture a football schedule poster that is being displayed in the barber shop window. We see that the schedule is for the University of Omaha football team’s 1938 schedule. Based on this, it is safe to assume that this picture takes place in the year 1938.