ELA 6-8 Dust Bowl

ELA 6-8 Dust Bowl

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis...
Alignment of this item to academic standards is based on recommendations from content creators, resource curators, and visitors to this website. It is the responsibility of each educator to verify that the materials are appropriate for your content area, aligned to current academic standards, and will be beneficial to your specific students.
Essential and guiding questions: 

Text-Dependent Questions

Text 1: Dust Bowl Photographs

  • PRIOR KNOWLEDGE: What do you know about the Dust Bowl?


  • List all of the details you see in four of the photographs. (Teacher may need to model one photograph finding ALL the details).
  • What is the big idea in these photographs? How do you know?


  • Choose one photograph that is significant. What makes this photograph significant? How is it more significant than other photographs?
  • Have students put this information into a t-chart. One side would be the “significant photograph” and “observations” about it. The other side would be the “evidence” to support the significance.
  • Teacher may need to model the thoroughness needed for this chart.
  • Accountable Talk discussion: Teacher with students or student to student or both.
  • How does the photographer use color in these photographs?
  • What do we know about the men in these photographs? The women? The children?
  • What purpose might the photographer have had in publishing many photographs on the same subject?
  • How do the photographs enhance your understanding of the Dust Bowl era?

Text 2: “Covered in Dust”, by Paul Roop


  • What is the central idea? How do you know? 
  • Have students fill in a four-part chart. Put the central idea at the top, and then fill in the other three spaces with details from the text to support their chosen central idea. The details should include the line number and sentences/phrases. Teacher may need to model this chart.


  • Re-read for significance. Have students complete another t-chart. Left side=Significant Sentence or Phrase (with line number); right side=Explanation using evidence.
  •  Teacher, again, may need to model how to thoroughly complete this chart with textual evidence, line numbers, and clear support for choices.


  • How does this author begin this text?
  • How does the author begin this paragraph?
  • How does this text end?
  • How are the introduction and conclusion effective and appealing?
  • In what ways does this author convey complex information in an understandable way?

Activity/Task Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Differentiation suggestions: 

Scaffolding and support for special education students, English language learners, and struggling readers:

  • Make an audio recording of “Covered in Dust” and give to students before the whole class reading.
  • Read the captions and article in small chunks – photograph-by-photograph as well as paragraph-by-paragraph.
  • Read aloud, silent read, student read, whisper read multiple times.
  • Give students a list of domain specific vocabulary definitions. Examples might include: captions, blizzard, drifts, region, prairie, plains, drought, topsoil, conservation, soil, crop rotation, erosion, migrant.
  • Use word study strategies with a limited number of Tier 2 Vocabulary words such as: horizon, awesome, ravaged, drifts, perished, bumper, produced, uprooted, carve, withered, shifted, converted, tale, instruments.