We Shall Overcome: The People who Made America Post WWII

Grade: 11th

Subjects: History, Post-WWII Economics, Agricultural Technology, Citizenship, Legacy

Class Session: 1

Erik and Hans Gregersen, multimedia tryptich, 12x24, 18x24, 12x24, by Holli Harmon

Erik and Hans Gregersen, multimedia tryptich, 12x24, 18x24, 12x24, by Holli Harmon


Lesson Summary: In this lesson, students will focus on the less-obvious people like Hans and Erik Gregerson who helped the United States during post-WWII reconstruction. Their status as hardworking immigrants and pioneers in agricultural technology, politics and management gives students a unique perspective on what kinds of jobs were available then and how the Gregerson brother’s outlook can inform the way we look at similar issues today. Their story is meant to be an alternative example to the people normally covered in this time period. The lesson steps below are a guideline. Consider the context of your previously covered material and your student’s needs.


Lesson Objective:

  • Address standards below in an assessment paper

  • Consider: what does it take to create economic boom and social transformation in a country?

  • Do some background research on the Gregersen Brother’s historical context

  • Analyze the Gregersen portrait for themes

  • Draw connections between the Gregersen’s life and their own




Lesson Plan/Discussion Questions:

  1. Give students two column guided notes to record observations and questions as they watch the video interview of Hans and Erik Gregersen

  2. Give students some historical context in terms of framing economic development post WWII (whatever is currently in your unit)

  3. Distribute copies of the Gregersen essay to table groups and have students discuss their own questions after a close-reading of the article.

  4. Class discussion: 1) Are the Gregersen’s immigrants? 2) What makes a global perspective? 3) Compare and contrast their story to another immigrant story, what is different? What is the same?

  5. Put up the portrait of Hans and Erik Gregersen. See. Think. Wonder

  6. Ask: after reading and seeing the interview, how does the portrait connect?

  7. In what ways do the students pick up on similar themes in their own lives?




Research Paper: Research one of the mentioned terms/organizations above and consider its impact then and now. Or students create their own research question based on something that came up in the discussion.


Tracking the History of: Students create a 8-10min presentation (group or solo) tracking the change over time of a particular thing from the Gregersen’s early days. This could be a piece of agricultural equipment, a developing country, A UN committee or even a piece of Danish or American culture. The goal is for student’s to give a thoughtful presentation that takes the context of a thing and critically tracks how it changed comparison or contrast to its historical context.


Discussion ins Small Groups and in Class

  • Have students turn in their notes as reference/assessment


Standards Addressed:

CCCSS History

11.8 Students analyze the economic boom and social transformation of post–World War II America.

1. Trace the growth of service sector, white collar, and professional sector jobs in business and government.

3. Examine Truman’s labor policy and congressional reaction to it.

6. Discuss the diverse environmental regions of North America, their relationship to local economies, and the origins and prospects of environmental problems in those regions.

7. Describe the effects on society and the economy of technological developments since 1945, including the computer revolution, changes in communication, advances in medicine, and improvements in agricultural technology.


CCCSS Listening and Comprehension

Presentation of Ideas.

11.4 a. Plan and deliver a reflective narrative that: explores the significance of a personal experience, event, or concern; uses sensory language to convey a vivid picture; includes appropriate narrative techniques (e.g., dialogue, pacing, description); and draws comparisons between the specific incident and broader themes. (11th or 12th grade) CA b. Plan and present an argument that: supports a position.


Created By: Katherine Kwong Intern Fall 2016