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Teaching the American Dream

Rocky American Dream

What does it mean to be an American? What is the American Dream? These activities attempt to address this complex question using music, literature, and film.

AMERICAN DREAMERS: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE AMERICAN DREAM FOR STUDENTS (PDF)  This short essay introduces the idea of the American Dream to students.

SPIRIT OF AMERICA: SONG ANALYSIS PACKET (PDF)  This worksheet present the lyrics to three songs that deal with the spirit of America:  "America the Beautiful" by Katherine Lee Bates, "Forty Hour Week for a Livin'" by Alabama, and "This Land Is Your Land" by Woody Guthrie. By analyzing these songs, student can begin to see what the “spirit of America” has meant in different time periods.

WHAT IS THE AMERICAN DREAM? (PDF) This article from Forbes magazine includes comments from famous Americans about their concept of the American Dream. Post-reading questions are included.

AMERICAN DREAM ESSAY (PDF) This essay prompt asks students to create their own definition of the American Dream and set three post-high-school goals that fit into that dream.

OPRAH WINFREY BIOGRAPHY (PDF) This worksheet presents a biography of Oprah Winfrey, a model of the American Dream.

SAM WALTON BIOGRAPHY (PDF) This worksheet presents a biography of Sam Walton, a model of the American Dream.

ROCKY ESSAY QUESTIONS (PDF) The film Rocky (1976) is a great story that embodies the American Dream. These essay questions ask students to analyze the film for elements of the American Dream.

"HOW ROCKY TURNED THE COMMON MAN INTO A HERO AND SYLVESTER STALLONE INTO A STAR" (PDF) This article from describes the way that Rocky's struggles in the film Rocky mimic Stallone's own rise from nobody to star.