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Progressive Reforms

Ohio Standards: Grade 10, History 4

Duration of Lesson: 2 class periods

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will understand that the progressive movement was
    a combination of many political and social reform movements.
  • Through editorial cartoon analysis and internet research,
    students will be able to explain the various reform movements that
    combined to create the progressive movement.
  • Students will also determine why the progressives focused
    on the issues they did.
  • Students will evaluate the challenges that the
    progressives faced by determining what groups might oppose reform and by
    concluding what consequences might result from reform.
  • Students will discover how the progressive movement
    influenced government policy.

Summary: This lesson requires students to analyze
editorial cartoons focusing on progressive reform and further research the
message of the cartoons. Questions accompany the editorial cartoons to guide
student research. Students will compare their analysis and research before
presenting the consequences of progressive reform. This lesson is designed to
conclude with a discussion of the cost of reform leading to the creation of a
national income tax through the passage of the 16th Amendment.


  • The following editorial cartoons on overhead
    1. Jack and the
      Wall Street Giants
    2. Happy
      Childhood Days
    3. The
      Tenement - A Menace to All
    4. The Poor
      Little Rich Boy
  • An overhead projector
  • Student copies of cartoons 1-3.
  • Reservation of a computer lab or the media center
  • The Cartoon Analysis/Research worksheet

Pre-Assessment: Students individually brainstorm the
reform movements/issues of the progressive movement. Students list the movements/issues
on the board. Discuss as a class why each movement/issue was a concern of the

Instructional Steps:

Day 1

  1. Complete pre-assessment activity
  2. Provide each student with one
    of the first three editorial cartoons (1. Jack and the Wall Street Giants; 2.
    Happy Childhood Days; 3. The Tenement - A Menace to All) and a "Cartoon Analysis/Research
  3. Allow students to research the
    issue portrayed in the cartoon in a computer lab or the media center and complete
    the "Analysis/Research Worksheet"

Day 2

  1. Have students form groups in which
    all members analyzed and researched the same cartoon. Students should discuss
    and compare their analysis and research. They should come to a consensus on
    answers to each of the questions on the "Analysis/Research Worksheet". This
    information should be added to their worksheets.
  2. Place students into groups of
    three so that each of the three cartoons is represented. In these groups
    students should explain/teach their individual cartoons to one another.
  3. Come back as a class and
    together discuss the consequences of progressive reform (question 6) and why
    progressive reform was difficult.

Post-Assessment: Show students a transparency of
fourth political cartoon, "The Poor Little Rich Boy" and ask students to
discuss how this cartoon represents an important consequence of progressive
reform (the cost).

Extension Activities:

  • Have students research and present government policy
    created in response to the progressive movement.
  • Have students write about the lasting effects of the
    progressive movement and their influence on life today.

"Jack and the Wall Street Giants"

"The Tenement - A Menace to All"

"The Poor Little Rich Boy"

"Happy Childhood Days"