National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix
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Growing a Nation: Prosperity and Challenges
9 - 12
Students will study the cause and effect relationship of many post-war advances that took place in our country. They will discover how increases in science and technology changed agriculture leading to fewer farmers being necessary to provide food and fiber.
- Growing a Nation multimedia program, and necessary projection equipment or computer lab
- Embedded Resource Cards
- Farm Facts booklets
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
technology: the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes
Background Agricultural Connections
Interest Approach – Engagement
- Explain to students that more than 90% of America’s population farmed 200 years ago. There were about 5 million Americans then. Today less than 2% of the American population works on farms; that’s about 5 million producers. Our population of about 300 million today has plenty of food.
- With that information, hold a class discussion and ask students to think about the following questions:
- How has America fed itself and much of the world?
- What has happened in the last 200 years to reduce farm labor and increase production?
- How has agriculture made it possible for Americans to pursue their hopes and dreams?
Activity 1: Using Embedded Resources
- Using a projector or computer lab, view the Growing a Nation: Prosperity and Challenges multimedia program.
- After students view selected slides, assign each student or group of students an Embedded Resource Card (see Essential Files) and ask them to be prepared to answer the Embedded Resource questions either by direct response or by utilizing the attached Teaching and Learning Strategies summary. You may want to assign a particular strategy or cut the strategies into strips and ask each student to pick one or two. If the student or group of students is allowed to pick two, ask them to choose the learning strategy they prefer and put the other one back.
- The embedded resources that pop up on each Growing a Nation screen are designed to be adaptable to a variety of teaching strategies and flexible for diverse learning styles. Each slide contains five or six embedded resources that detail events in American history that can be explored for a greater understanding of the time period or historical cause and effect relationships. Each embedded resource asks higher order questions to not only increase student knowledge but to increase their comprehension to the level of application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation (Bloom’s Taxonomy of educational objectives). The Teaching and Learning Strategies in found in the Essential Files section of the lesson can be applied to nearly all the embedded resources in addition to students answering the embedded resource questions.
Activity 2: Timeline – Inventions in Farm Machinery and Technology
- As a class, review the “Farm Machinery and Technology” category of the Growing a Nation historical timeline, noting the production numbers and labor hours required to produce wheat and corn from 1830-2000.
- Together the class is going to create a cause and effect timeline. Use a strip of masking tape or crepe paper to create the timeline on one of the classroom walls. Add decade markers, spaced appropriately. Assign each student or group of students a decade between 1800 and 2000 from the “Farm Machinery and Technology” category. (There are 15 decades, so depending on your class size you may have 3 students to a group.)
- Each student or group of students should identify the events in their decade and evaluate the item as a cause or effect contributing to the increase in production or decrease in labor. Ask students to create a pamphlet by folding a sheet of 8-1/2" x 11" paper in half (lengthwise). On the top front page, students should glue or tape a picture from the Growing a Nation photo gallery or from other websites to identify the event, then below the picture write the title of the cause or effect event. These “pamphlets” will be used on the timeline. If they have more than one event in their assigned decade, they should create a separate sheet for each. On the inside, students should write down whether the event is a “cause” or an “effect” related to the increase in production or the decrease in labor. If the event is a cause, ask students to find the effect; if the event is an effect, ask students to find the cause, even if they have to look in different decades. Students may also look at other categories on the timeline or in their textbook to help them determine causes or effects. For example, were other things going on in the 1950s in the other categories (Economic cycles, Land, Crop and Livestock, Transportation, Trade, Life on the Farm Organizations, Agricultural Education and Extension, or Government Programs and Policy) that had a cause or effect relationship to the event? If so, they should identify them on the inside of the pamphlet. Once the pamphlets are completed, ask students to present their event and then paste the event onto the timeline in the appropriate decade.
Activity 3: Event or Invention Project
- Ask students to select an event or invention from the Growing a Nation timeline and then research the event or invention and create a PowerPoint slide show or advertisement flyer/poster about the event and present this project to the class. The presentation should include important statistics, highlights, graphs and or pictures. For example students could graph the number of people fed by farmers in 1940 (19), 1950 (27), 1960, (46), in 1970 (73), 1980 (115), 1990 (129), 2006 (144). The Farm Facts booklet noted in the Materials list would be useful for this activity.
Activity 4: Primary Source Analysis
- As a class, download or stream the following films from the Classroom Resources of the Growing a Nation website and compare and contrast what each Secretary of Agriculture is saying:
- Secretary Benson Speaks, 1955 (4 minutes). Created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Secretary of Agriculture, Ezra Taft Benson gives a New Year’s Day address concerning the future of agriculture.
- Secretary Freeman Talks on Food and Fibers, 1968 (3 minutes). As part of President Johnson’s “War on Hunger,” Secretary of Agriculture Orville Freeman addresses the issue of hunger and raises questions about who America could or should feed and how hunger can be ended.
- Students could complete the Motion Picture Analysis activity sheet in Appendix 3 or note the three most significant concepts they hear. Discuss the concepts and issues raised in each film.
Activity 5: State Statistics
- Investigate your state’s agriculture. What do you know about farming in your state? Visit this website The USDA's Agricultural Statistics website and learn about your state’s top agricultural products and much more. How does your state’s agriculture contribute to the state’s economy?
Concept Elaboration and Evaluation
- Increases in science and technology have allowed farmers to produce more food for our population.
- The need for fewer farmers provided a wider spectrum of work opportunities leading to more people moving to cities.
- Science and technology is still impacting farming and our food production today.
We welcome your feedback! Please take a minute to tell us how to make this lesson better or to give us a few gold stars!
Suggested Companion Resources
- Drones and the Future of Farming Video (Multimedia)
- Growing a Nation Multimedia Program (Multimedia)
- How a Combine Works (Multimedia)
- Smarter Food: Does Big Farming Mean Bad Farming? (Multimedia)
- Food and Farm Facts Booklet (Booklets & Readers)
- Agricultural News (Website)
- Tractor Timeline- A History of Tractors (Website)
Agricultural Literacy Outcomes
Culture, Society, Economy & Geography
- Discuss how agricultural practices have increased agricultural productivity and have impacted (pro and con) the development of the global economy, population, and sustainability (T5.9-12.e)
- Evaluate and discuss the impact of major agricultural events and agricultural inventions that influenced world and U.S. history (T5.9-12.g)
Education Content Standards
5-12 History Era 6 Standard 1A: The connections among industrialization, the advent of the modern corporation, and material well-being.
Objective 5Compare the ascent of new industries today with those of a century ago.
5-12 History Era 6 Standard 1B: Rapid growth of cities and how urban life changed.
Objective 1Explain how geographical factors and rapid industrialization created different kinds of cities in diverse regions of the country.
5-12 History Era 9 Standard 1A: The extent and impact of economic changes in the postwar period.
Objective 3Explain the growth of the service, white collar, and professional sectors of the economy that led to the enlargement of the middle class.
5-12 History Era 9 Standard 1C: Postwar science augmented the nation's economic strength, transformed daily life, and influenced the world economy.
Objective 5Describe agricultural innovation and consolidation in the postwar period and assess their impact on the world economy.
Common Core Connections
Speaking and Listening: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.