Grade 11, 12 Poverty in America

West Haven Public Schools

Unit Planning Organizer

Subject: Issues in Government                                    

Grade: 11 and 12

Unit: Poverty in America                                             

Pacing: 4th MP (2 weeks)

Essential Question(s):

1.  How has our government attempted to provide assistance to the poor?

2.  How do nature and geography have an impact on the poor?

3.  How do other countries deal with the issue of poverty?

4.  How is the problem of poverty expressed in popular culture/media?

Big Idea(s):

1.  Our government has created different agencies and programs to lower poverty levels and to provide for the poor.

2.  Natural disasters and geographic setting can influence problems associated with poverty.

3.  Other countries have a variety of ways of dealing with the issue of poverty.

4.  Popular music, movies and books address the issue of poverty in a variety of ways.

CT State Standards (includes West Haven’s “Priority” GLES’s in BOLD and “Supporting” Standards)

1.2.2    Compare and contrast the experiences of Connecticut citizens with other U.S. citizens   throughout American history.

1.3.1    Explain how the arts, architecture, music and literature of a civilization/nation reflect its            culture             and history.

1.7.1    Compare and contrast how different national governments throughout the world attempt to       meet the needs of their citizens.

1.4.3    Use maps charts and graphs to analyze how geographic location and physical features have      influenced national histories.

1.3.2    Explain the significance of globalization on the world’s nations and societies.

1.13.3  Analyze the impact of family, religion, gender, ethnicity and socioeconomic status on personal     development.

2.5.2    Create multipurpose visuals (graphic maps, pictographs) to present information

3.3.1    Evaluate a proposed solution to a contemporary political, economic, environmental or social      problem.

“Unwrapped” Concepts and Skills, and Bloom Levels (BL)

Concepts(Need to Know)

Skills(Able to Do)






Employment rate

Socioeconomic status

Welfare (reform)













Explain impact of globalization on employment rate in America


Compare and contrast poverty in CT with other states


Explain how problems associated with poverty are expressed through current music and entertainment


Compare and contrast how different countries deal with problems associated with poverty


Use maps and charts to evaluate how poverty relate to geography (urban poor, rural, Hurricane Katrina)


Create song, poem or video that demonstrates understanding of the expression of poverty issues in modern entertainment

















Common Formative Pre- Assessment (Followed by Data Team Analysis):

* see attached

“Dipsticks” (Informal Progress Monitoring Checks):


Common Formative Post- Assessment (Followed by Data Team Analysis):

·        see attached

Instructional Planning

Suggested Resources/Materials:

Laws of assistance for poor and welfare reform

Video “Waiting on the World to Change”

Article “The Changing Face of Poverty in America”

Maps of poor areas, employment rate of U.S.

Jonathon Kozol book  Savage Inequalities

Documentary “Trouble the Water” (Hurricane Katrina)

PBS documentary: “The Storm” (teacher’s guide) 

Suggested Research-based Effective Instructional Strategies:

- Questionaire poem (interview someone on welfare or working with poor)

- write song, poem or video on experiences of poor

- review and evaluate current legislation on poverty issues (critique)

- review/critique current music about urban poor (hip-hop history?) 

Vocabulary/Word Wall


Interdisciplinary Connections



Poverty rate

Employment rate

Median income

Working poor

Urban (poor)

Rural (poor)

Head Start Program

Home energy assistance




Food stamps


Title 19

1996 Welfare Reform Act

Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act & TANF (temporary assistance for needy families) & 3 goals

AFDC (Aid for Families with Dependent Children)

Read Jonathon Kozol’s Savage Inequalities


Interview someone working for Assistance Program

Develop plan to improve employment rate


Research connection between socioeconomic status and educational achievement