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Stories of the American Dream

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Language Arts And English Age Level High School (16 to 18 years old)

The resources in this collection are assembled to present a range of perspectives on the American Dream. After we have delved into the concept of the American Dream and its evolution over time, you will examine and consider examples of Americans' attempts to accomplish their unique aspirations.

After surveying the collection, choose one of the following assignments to complete and submit it.  As you are browsing the resources in the collection, you may want to take notes and/or save images.

Possible Assignments:

1) Compare and Contrast: Write an essay that examines how the images reflect or represent  the American Dream. Choose 5 images and for each image, identify the time period, the person/people and place featured, and  the American Dream  referenced. By describing and analyzing each image, evaluate the American Dream. How do the images reflect the idea of the American Dream? What conclusions can we draw from examining the American Dream through these images? How has the dream changed over time and what does it mean today? Are there any aspects of the American Dream that hasn't changed? 

2) Argument: Select a combination of articles, images, and videos (at least 5) to examine. Reflecting on the quote from class consider the extent to which you agree or disagree with the argument presented. To support your claim, use the sources from this collection to write an essay in which you argue whether or not the American Dream still exists. 

Quote: "People have long held the view that America is a place where everyone can freely and successfully seek their dreams. We are a nation of potential success stories, emerged from simple beginnings. We've been told that within each of us lives the spirit of entrepreneurial or educational achievement. Up until recently, this was widely believed as true. But as a result of current economic conditions, this opportunity has been lost and the American Dream of the past no longer exists." (Levy)

Levy, Ellen. "Pursuing the American Dream." Constructing Meaning Instructional Unit. E. L. Achieve, Inc. 2012 


I'm dreaming of a black Christmas

Smithsonian American Art Museum

LeBron James

National Portrait Gallery

John Lewis and Julian Bond

National Portrait Gallery

Signs

National Portrait Gallery

Martin Luther King, Jr.

National Portrait Gallery

Designing the American Dream with Mrs. Obama in mind

National Museum of American History

Community Dreams

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

Parcel Post: Delivery of Dreams

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

Baird's Dream: History of the Arts and Industries Building

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

Dreams Take Flight

Smithsonian Channel

The American Dream Begins Here

Smithsonian Channel

Plainsman's Dream

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Basketball signed by members of the U.S. "Dream Team"

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Build a Dream, (sculpture)

Art Inventories Catalog, Smithsonian American Art Museums

sound recording: Kansas City; Out Of My Dreams

National Museum of American History

The Fisherman's Dream, (painting)

Art Inventories Catalog, Smithsonian American Art Museums

The Dream of Brigham Young, (painting)

Art Inventories Catalog, Smithsonian American Art Museums

Camas para Sueños

Smithsonian American Art Museum

He Envisioned Dreams That Others Might Share, (sculpture)

Art Inventories Catalog, Smithsonian American Art Museums

This is America. Keep it Free! [reproduction of photograph on poster]

Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Biotech Bay Poster

National Museum of American History

33c San Francisco 49ers single

National Postal Museum