Grade: Senior
Subject: History

#1750. 1950's popular culture

History, level: Senior
Posted Fri May 5 08:54:33 PDT 2000 by Christine Dunn (
Randolph-Macon Woman's College, Lynchburg, VA
Materials Required: 50's cd, 50's sitcom episode, books of fashion and cars
Activity Time: 45 minutes
Concepts Taught: a jigsaw II on four aspect of 1950's culture: cars, fashion, TV, and rock and roll

1950's culture--Jigsaw II Cooperative Learning Model

1. Descriptive Data
Name: Christine Dunn
School: Heritage High School
Grade/Level: 11/average level
# of students: 2nd period 25, 3rd period 15
Subject: American History
Unit topic: The Cold War
Lesson topic: 1950's culture
SOL: none
Model name: Jigsaw II Cooperative Learning Model
Date: April 12
Time: 2nd 8:25-9:05, 3rd 9:10-10:00
Teacher: Mrs. Frazier

2. Goals and Objectives
Unit Goals
1. Students will have a basic understanding of Capitalism and Communism, the ideologies that fueled the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
2. Students will be familiar with the major events of the Cold War, including the Korean War, the Cuban Missle Crisis, and Vietnam.
3. Students will understand instances where the Cold War influenced the culture and events of the United States.

Lesson Objectives
1. With the material they are given, students will be able to work together in expert groups to construct a presentation on their subject.
2. With the information they compiled with their expert groups, students will present their information to the other members of their group.
3. Students will listen attentively to the presentations of the other students in their teams and evaluate which points are important enough to make note of.
4. Based on the information they have each presented, students will work cooperatively together to come up with two words they feel best describe the 1950's.

3. Rationale
The Cold War was a period in American History where the United States really asserted to the world what it stood for, democracy. Now that the Cold War is over, it is debatable whether the United States made all the right decisions. By better understanding the role of the United States in the past four decades, students can better understand why the United States is the world's leader today and why other countries have the impression that they have of the United States.

4. Procedure:

I. Opening (2 minutes)
The students will already have the 2 sections in their books on 1950's culture. I will then explain that everyone will be placed in groups of 4 where each person will be an expert on 1 of 4 topics, fashion, Rock and Roll, TV, or cars. I will then explain the process of how the students will form expert groups to consolidate information about their topics and they will then present their information back to their groups.

II. Information Gathering (4 minutes)
A. The students will be divided into groups of 4. 2nd period will be divided into about 4 groups. 3rd period will be divided into about 6 groups. It is okay for groups to have 5 people, but it is not okay for a group to only have 3 people.

B. Each team will assign each student to be an expert in: fashion, Rock and Roll, TV, or cars.

III. Expert Meeting (18 minutes)
The 4 expert teams will assemble together. Using the materials given to them, students will assemble information about their topics to present to the rest of their groups.

Fashion: (students will be given a magazine to look through as well as their textbooks)
advertising was a major influence in fashion
James Dean was an influence for boys; Marilyn Monroe was an influence for women
smoking was popular
tiny waists with long skirts were popular for women
sweaters, poodle skirts, saddle shoes for girls

Rock and Roll: (they will be given a cd, boom box and headphones to listen to music)
rock and roll began with African-American performers
included such musicians as Elvis Presley, Bobby Darin, Little Richard, Chuck Berry
teenagers could afford these records
it was something not conforming to the decade of conformity
many adults believed Rock and Roll was rebellious and a bad influence on children
became progressively more accepted throughout the decade

TV: (they will be given an episode of a 1950's sitcom)
after the Federal Communications Commission allowed stations to have licenses in 1952 the number of TV stations jumped
popular shows included I love Lucy, Mickey Mouse Club, Father Knows Best
encouraged stereotypes about father being head of the household, mother staying at home, obedient children
few minorities
unrealistic portrayal of life, presents life as free of problems
Westerns were popular, which some feared encouraged violence in children

Cars: (students will be given a book on 1950's cars)
new highways were built
both cars and gas were cheaper and more available to the average consumer
teenagers began using cars for recreation
drive-throughs and drive-ins became more popular for food and entertainment
more people took trips
new pollution problems

IV. Team Report (20 minutes)

A. Each team will reassemble. Each expert will then present their information to the rest of the group. Students will be asked to take notes on points that they feel are important.

V. Conclusion (5-7 minutes)

A. Each team will then be asked to come up with 2 words that describe popular culture in the 1950's. I will go around to each team and ask them what these words are and write them on the board. The two words I will be looking for are affluence and conformity
B. After the class has established that these 2 words (or 2 other words with similar ideas) were the dominating ideas of the 1950's, we will go over examples from the presentations that demonstrate these ideas.

5. Assignments and Reminders

6. Materials Needed
chalk and chalkboard
1950's cd, boombox, and headset
1950's sitcom
1950's Ladies' Home Journal
book on cars

7. Informal Assessment
Students will assemble into groups and work cooperatively to compile information on their topic.
Students will present their information to the rest of their groups from the information they compiled in their groups.
Students will listen attentively to the other experts in their group and will write down points they feel to be important.
Students will work cooperatively together to analyze their information on 1950's culture and come up with 2 words that best describe the 1950's.