Culture of the Progressive Era


US History (11th) Progressive Era Culture of the Progressive Era
Students view a short silent film clip from the Progressive Era. Then, they acquire information about silent films, vaudeville, and Tin Pan Alley music. Next, they explore how those forms of entertainment played into and magnified cultural attitudes of the time. Finally, students explore American popular culture’s continuing influence on the world.

This learning experience is designed for device-enabled classrooms. The teacher guides the lesson, and students use embedded resources, social media skills, and critical thinking skills to actively participate. To get access to a free version of the complete lesson, sign up for an exploros account.

1:1 Devices
Teacher Pack

The Pack contains associated resources for the learning experience, typically in the form of articles and videos. There is a teacher Pack (with only teacher information) and a student Pack (which contains only student information). As a teacher, you can toggle between both to see everything.

Here are the teacher pack items for Culture of the Progressive Era:

Preview - Scene 1
Exploros Learnign Experience Scene Navigation


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Overview

In this experience, students view and respond to a short silent film clip from the Progressive Era. Then, they acquire information about silent films, vaudeville, and Tin Pan Alley songs. Next, they explore how those forms of entertainment played into and magnified cultural attitudes of the time. Finally, students explore American popular culture’s continuing influence on the world.

Students will collaborate in small groups in scene 2.

Objectives

  • Describe the role of Tin Pan Alley and vaudeville in progressive culture.
  • Explain the significance of The Birth of a Nation and the start of the U.S. film industry.


The early 20th century was a time of booming innovation in entertainment and culture, even though its styles might appear extremely old-fashioned to people today. In this experience, you’ll learn about the cultural contributions of the Progressive Era.

Objectives

  • Describe the role of Tin Pan Alley and vaudeville in progressive culture.
  • Explain the significance of The Birth of a Nation and the start of the U.S. film industry.




National League champion New York Giants, opening day, 1913


You’re a high school student in the year 1918, and you can’t find anything to do for fun. You have a feeling there must be more to life; maybe you’ve been born a century too soon? (Videos, hip-hop, and rock would astound you—maybe even horrify you.) What to do?

Maybe you could go to a baseball game. Or maybe you could go to the circus and watch performing animal acts, such as Jumbo the elephant. Or watch one of the newest forms of entertainment: silent movies.


The video runs 4:48 minutes. Show your students about 30 seconds of it, enough for them to get an impression and to respond.


Watch Jumbo, the Trained Elephant. What are you thinking and feeling? Now put yourself back in 1918 and imagine yourself watching it. What would you think and feel about it then? 


Write words that express what you might think about the movie if you were living in the year 1918. To list more than one, separate your ideas with a comma, like this: warm, cold.

Post your answer

Use the cloud to prompt discussion of why Jumbo’s circus act, and the silent movie about it, would have seemed impressive at the time. Possible responses include but are not limited to:

  • Film (even silent) was as exciting and new then as interactive media is today.
  • A film of Jumbo would have reached millions of people who didn’t have the opportunity to see him “live.”
  • Americans at that time traveled much less than they do today, so almost any exposure to a phenomenon from another place or culture was more surprising then than now.
Recommend that interested students read The 1910s Sports: Overview in the Student Pack. Encourage them to compare and contrast similarities and differences of today’s sports trends. 


Divide students into their small groups for the next scene. When everyone is ready to continue, unlock the next scene.

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The Complete List of Learning Experiences in Progressive Era Unit.
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