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Farmers Without Land: The Plight of White Tenant Farmers and Sharecroppers lesson plan

OVERVIEW

Agriculture has always been a major economic activity in Mississippi although not everyone in this business has been given equal or fair opportunity to become landowners. The tenant/sharecropping system of farming came into existence in the state during the antebellum period. Many Mississippi farmers found themselves tied to this particular system of farming and it only perpetuated the impoverished circumstances of farmers without farms. It remained a common practice until the passage of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Agricultural Adjustment Act in 1933.

CURRICULAR CONNECTIONS

Mississippi Studies Framework: Competencies 1, 2, 3, and 4.

TEACHING LEVELS

Grades 7 through 12.

MATERIALS AND EQUIPMENT

Mississippi History Now article

Chalkboard and chalk

Overhead projector and pen

Notebooks

Pen/pencil

Unlined paper

OBJECTIVES

Students will:

Compare and contrast tenant farmers and sharecroppers.

Determine the advantages and disadvantages of the tenant/sharecropping from various viewpoints.

Compose a journal entry.

OPENING THE LESSON

The teacher will place the words tenant farmer and sharecropper on the chalkboard. The teacher will ask for student volunteers to define these terms. Through the discussion, the teacher will clarify the definitions for each term. The teacher will explain to the students that they will learn about these two occupations that were prevalent in Mississippi during the 19th and 20th centuries.

DEVELOPING THE LESSON

1.

Allow students to work with a partner for this portion of the lesson. Ask students to compare and contrast tenant farming and sharecropping after reading the Mississippi History Now article. The students should record answers on a Venn diagram. Unlined paper can be used to construct the diagrams. Instruct the students to record a minimum of three contrasts and two comparisons on the diagram.

2.

Instruct the students to write a comparison/contrast paragraph using the information recorded on the Venn diagram.

3.

After the students have completed the Venn diagram, ask for student volunteers to share their answers from the Venn diagram. The teacher can record student responses on a teacher-made transparency or a diagram drawn on the chalkboard. Student volunteers can also read the paragraphs.

4.

Allow the students to work with a partner for this portion of the lesson. Have students complete the chart using the Mississippi History Now article. The students can copy the chart from the chalkboard or a teacher made transparency.

Sharecropping/Tenant Agricultural System 

Advantages

Viewpoint

Disadvantages

 

Freed African American Slaves

 

 

Sharecroppers

 

 

Tenant Farmers

 

 

Landowners

 

 

Yeoman Farmers

 

 

Furnishing Merchant

 

5.

After the students have completed the chart shown above, ask for student volunteers to share their answers. The teacher can record the answers on a teacher-made transparency or on the chalkboard.

6.

Ask the student to work independently on this portion of the lesson. Instruct students to choose one of the viewpoints from the recently completed chart. The student should write one journal entry for the viewpoint they have chosen.

7.

Allow students to move into groups of three or four in order to share their journal entries with a small group.

CLOSING THE LESSON

Allow each group to choose one journal to be read in front of the class.

ASSESSING STUDENT LEARNING

1.

Class participation

2.

Venn diagram

3.

Paragraph

4.

Chart

5.

Journal entry

EXTENDING THE LESSON

1.

Allow the students to take a field trip to Hopson’s Plantation outside Clarksdale, Mississippi. At this location, students can take a tour of the plantation and view the farm process. Students can also see authentic sharecropping shacks that now serve as popular overnight accommodations for tourist in the area.

2.

Allow students to research the farming industry in the counties where sharecropping and tenant farming was prevalent.

3.

Allow students to analyze the life of a sharecropping family through various blues songs.

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