The Rise of the Labor Movement in San Francisco's Mission District
This lesson relates to the following topic from the California History-Social Sciences Curriculum for Grade Eight:
"The Rise of Industrial America: 1877 - 1914"
GoalStudents will learn about the growth and origins of the labor movement, from both a historical and an experiential perspective.
Time Required1 class period - screening and discussing the video
1 class period - performing the simulation.
Assembly line - An arrangement of machines and workers so that work passes from operation to operation in a direct line until the product is assembled.
Sweatshop - A manufacturing establishment employing workers under unfair and unsanitary conditions.
Materials NeededA number of pieces of 8 1/2" x 11" paper for the "assembly line" simulation.
A teacher-produced model of a simple drawing of a human figure.
Procedure1. Ask students about their own experience with labor unions. What do they know about unions? What is their purpose? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
2. Before playing the video segment, instruct students to note details about life in the highly unionized Mission District at the turn of the century. Play the video segment (approx. 5 mins.), beginning at the following point in the narration: In those days, the Mission was like a small town... and ending with... It was Father Yorke who engineered the end of the strike... and the survival of the Teamsters Union... Use the video log to locate the segment.
4. After screening the video segment, have students immediately
write their responses to the following questions:
6. Before students arrive for the next class, arrange the desks so they are very close together, forming a series of assembly lines.
7. Once students arrive, direct them to their seats.Their task is to mass-produce a picture of a person. Have each student "worker" specialize in a particular part of the body. They are to pass the illustration from "worker" to "worker" until the drawing is completed. In your role as boss, urge the students to speed up, stop dawdling, etc.
8. Stop the simulation. How did students feel while they were on the assembly line? How would it feel, day after day, if their livelihood depended on such jobs? Can they see why people needed to form unions to improve their working conditions?
Extension ActivitiesKeep a first-person diary of your imaginary experiences in an early twentieth century sweat shop and share them locally with other classes by using KQED Learning Link e-mail or internationally by using Newsgroups found on KQED Learning Link.
Take me to The Mission home page
Take me to the Neighborhoods Menu page