Jr. High/High School Lesson Plan

Note to teachers: The two primary source documents that are available for this exercise are a recruitment flyer from Notre Dame Academy, Sixth Street, Cincinnati dated 1845 and a similar flyer for Mount Notre Dame Academy, Reading, Ohio dated 1902. It is important for you as a teacher to read the materials before giving them to the class. You may decide to formulate your own plan for the students to use these materials that will enable the students to compare and contrast school life in 1845, 1902 and 2015 that will enable them to also identify major cultural differences between the time periods.

Materials needed:

  • Copies of the two files: 1845.pdf and 1902.pdf (each small group will need one copy – teachers may decide to make one copy per student)
  • Copies of the questions they are to answer

Time needed: at least one class period

Subject: Social Studies

Topic: School life then and now


  1. Have students use social analysis skills to compare and contrast school life in 1845, 1902 and 2015
  2. Have the students draw conclusions about cultural differences between the centuries


  1. Explain to the class that you have the equivalent of recruitment materials from Notre Dame schools dated 1845 and 1902.
  2. Divide the class into small groups.
  3. Give some of the small groups the 6th Street Recruitment Flyer (1845.pdf) and other groups the MND Recruitment document (1902.pdf).
  4. Ask the students to read the document in their groups and answer the following questions:
    a. What subjects were studied?
    b. Where there any extracurricular activities mentioned?
    c. Was the cost of their education mentioned?
    d. What kind of daily schedule did they have?
  5. Have the students to go back through the document and list things that surprised them (examples might be students only allowed visitors one afternoon a week, students being required to write to their parents, etc.).
  6. Have the students to articulate what they feel are the three biggest differences between their lives now and that of the students who lived in the time period of the document they are studying.
  7. Mix up the small groups so that there are students in each group who dealt with both documents.
  8. Have the students create a chart with the answers to A-D above for both 1845 and 1902. Have them add a third column with answers to the same questions for 2015. What differences do they see?
  9. Have the students share with one another their answers to questions 5 & 6. What are the similarities and differences among them?
  10. Have the students imagine a chance to talk to students from 1845 and 1902. What questions would they want to ask them? Why?
  11. Optional: Bring the class together as a whole and lead a discussion on their findings.

Assessment: Ask the students to imagine that a student from 1845 or 1902 arrives in 2015. Their job is to help them adjust to the reality of today. Have them write a paper of at least one page that would help the student from the past adjust to life today.