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Lesson Description: This lesson will focus on the topic of social classes in American society. It will utilize The Simpsons episode "Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield". The class will use the episode as a case study, and they will use their knowledge on the subject to comment on the episode.






The Simpsons in Social Studies Lesson Plan

Author: Brian Adams

Subject: Sociology

Topics Covered: Class Structure, Class Struggle.

Length: 2 class periods or 80 minutes.

Overview: This lesson will use The Simpsons episode “Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield”. As the title of the episode dictates the lesson will help the students learn about class struggle. It will also introduce students to the socio-economic class structure of the United States. The class will first talk about the concepts of social classes in our country, then discuss whether or not we believe a struggle exists between the classes. Then the class will view the episode to use their newfound knowledge and observe whether a case study then write about it.


Lesson Essential Question(s)

· What are socio-economic classes, and why do they exist in the United States?

· Why are there struggles between the socio-economic classes in the United States?

Standards

· Pennsylvania State Standards have no Sociology Standards.

Materials

· The Simpsons Season 6 Episode 3F11 “Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield”

· Graphic Organizer/Viewing Guide

· Sociology Textbook


Procedure


· Introduction

o Students should comment on the following question as they walk into class.

§ Are high school students divided into social groups, if so what kind of groups exist in our school?

o Let the students answer the question no a piece of paper first, then spend time and talk about their answers.

§ Ask the students why people divide into groups, do people do so purposefully, or does it just happen?

Lesson

1. Distribute the Socio-Economic Class Graphic Organizer to the students.

2. Begin the lesson by introducing the students to the definition of Socioeconomic class: (should be something along these lines) Measure of a person or family’s position in society based on economic and social factors.

a. Ask students if they can break that down into simpler terms. Discuss what it really means.

3. Next discuss the different class levels; high, middle, and low. Talk about the characteristics of each level.

a. Divide the students into groups, then give each group a series of pictures. They will have a picture of a home (apartment, house, townhouse, trailer, etc), a family (high, middle, and low), and an activity (something that might represent each class)

b. Have the groups come up with guesses as to which socio-economic class their pictures might come from and why. They should share these with the rest of the class.

c. Once everyone has gone, ask the students if some of those activities could overlap, they should agree that some can, but other activities make it more difficult for those in the lower class to participate because of price.

4. Next, go through the ways that socio-economic status is determined.

a. Occupation: Talk about how certain jobs put people/families into different classes. Why?

b. Earning: Discuss why how much people earn can distinguish them from other groups.

c. Education: Talk about why the level of education often determines how people are divided as well.

5. Next, ask the students if they can tell the socio-economic class of families in some of their favorite television shows. Let them talk about these as they come up.

6. Introduce The Simpsons to the students and ask them to discuss what class they might be part of and why.

7. Tell the students that they will watch a part of an episode that deals with socio-economic classes. They should watch the video and take notes on it.

8. As the video plays the students should pay attention to the questions on the viewing guide.

a. Talk about the answers after the video is over.

b. Ask the students how it relates to their notes they took earlier.

9. Talk about what happened when The Simpsons tried to move up classes. What issues did they face? What happened to them ultimately?

a. Add into the notes whether or not people can move into different social classes, and how they do it.



Summary

o 3 -2 -1: They should write three ways socio-economic status is determined, 2 ways that people can move up or down classes, 1 way The Simpsons helped them remember socio-economic class.


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