Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Big Business Monkey Business

Richard Johnson
Bay District Schools


Students work in cooperative groups to provide presentations on business organization and “Big Business” during the second part of the Industrial Revolution (1860-1910) in the United States.


The student selects and uses appropriate listening strategies according to the intended purpose (such as solving problems, interpreting and evaluating the techniques and intent of a presentation, and taking action in career-related situations).

The student uses details, illustrations, analogies, and visual aids to make oral presentations that inform, persuade, or entertain.

The student applies oral communication skills to interviews, group presentations, formal presentations, and impromptu situations.

The student knows the causes of the Industrial Revolution and its economic, political, and cultural effects on American society.


-Paper for handouts
-Interpreting Political Cartoons (see Associated Files): student activity sheet, one copy per student
- Interpreting Political Cartoons (see Associated Files): cartoon transparency templates, one per cartoon
-Teacher Guide for the PowerPoint Presentation (see Associated Files), teacher copy
-Group Activity Components: Working Together as a Group, one transparency
-Group Activity Components: Group Directions (see Associated Files), one copy per group
-Group Activity Components: Group Presentation Rubric (see Associated Files), one copy per group
-Group Activity Components: Individual Task Log (see Associated Files), one copy per student
-Group Activity Components: Group Task List (see Associated Files), one copy per group
-Group Activity Components: Group Presentation Proposal (see Associated Files), one copy per group
-Group Activity Components: Guidelines for Oral Presentations (see Associated Files), one transparency
-Student Presentation Guide (see Associated Files), one per student
-Listening Skills Teacher Observation Checklist (see Associated Files), one for each student
-Listening Skills Inventory Self Assessment (see Associated Files), one copy per student
-Listening Skills Inventory, one copy per student if they do not have it from lesson one, “From the Farm to the Factory”
- Summative 3: Project Proposal Form (see Extensions), one per student
-Poster board for group illustrations for their presentations
-Multi-colored markers for illustrations
-Computer, TV, or presentation device if presenting the PowerPoint presentation via computer
-Overhead projector and transparency film
-Video camera to video the presentations


1. Duplicate all handouts found in the Associated Files and the Summative Assessment 3 file (see Extensions).
2a. Set up equipment (TV or projector connected to computer) for the PowerPoint presentation.
2b. If computer-TV setup is not available, then create transparencies from the PowerPoint presentation to be displayed on an overhead projector.
3. Create political cartoon transparencies from the Interpreting Political Cartoons activity file (see Associated Files).
4. Review the PowerPoint Presentation Teacher Guide (see Associated Files).
5. Create transparencies of Working Together as a Group and Guidelines for Oral Presentations (see Group Activity Components in Associated Files section).
6. Gather resources for students to use for their research from the library, Internet, and textbooks.
7. Set up video camera if the presentations are going to be taped.


This lesson is lesson two of four for the unit, America Gears Up.

1. Give each student a copy of the Interpreting Political Cartoons (see Associated Files) activity sheet. Have them answer the questions concerning the two political cartoons on the sheet. Show each political cartoon transparency using an overhead projector. Discuss the answers to each of the cartoon’s questions with the whole class. This activity should initiate interest in this lesson and activate prior knowledge of this period.

2. Present the Big Business-Monkey Business (see Associated Files) introductory PowerPoint presentation. Remind students of the listening skills introduced in the previous lesson, From the Farm to the Factory.

3. Go over the Working Together as a Group transparency (see Group Activity Components file in the Associated Files section).

4. Group the students into five groups. Go over the responsibilities of the group leader and secretary. Have the groups elect a leader and secretary. Each group will be responsible for one of five subjects: business organization, the railroad, oil, and steel industries, and the government’s role during this period. It is important to emphasis that every student in the class is dependent on each group’s information to get accurate information for the Student Presentation Guide (see Associated Files) so it important for the group presentations to be thorough, accurate, and informative.

5. Give each group a copy of the group directions (see Group Activity Components file in the Associated Files section) that matches their assigned subject and a copy of the Group Presentation Rubric (see Group Activity Components file in the Associated Files section). Note that each group assignment has specific content goals for each group presentation. Each individual group member should get a copy of the Individual Task Log (see Group Activity Components file in the Associated Files section), as well. Go over the different parts of the group assignments, the rubric, and task log. Based on prior class activities, it might be appropriate to review, if necessary, basic research skills, such as note-taking, paraphrasing, and identifying pertinent information.

6. Once the assignments are clear, have the groups start on their assignments. At this point, groups should identify tasks that need to be completed and fill out the Group Task List (see Group Activity Components file in the Associated Files section). This list will help you keep up with what the students should be doing.

7. Circulate and provide help while the groups are conducting research for their presentations. Use the Content Items section of the group directions to make sure they are covering the required material. The required information for each the group’s subjects should be readily found in their textbooks, encyclopedias, or in online resources.

8. Once the groups are approximately halfway through their research, review their Group Task List and the Group Presentation Proposal (see Group Activity Components file) for the members of the group. Either approve or provide feedback on their presentation proposals. Once the groups have approved presentation proposals, they should work toward completing their presentations.

9. Do a final approval of each group’s presentation before the presentations are given.

10. Go over the Guidelines for Oral Presentations (see Group Activity Components file) transparency to prepare students for their individual speaking parts in the presentations.

11. Set up the classroom for the student reports.

12. Review the Listening Skills Inventory used in Lesson 1: From the Farm to the Factory of this unit (see Extensions). Give the students a Listening Skills Inventory Self Assessment and Student Presentation Guide (see Associated Files) and have them complete each during the presentations.

13. Get a Group Presentation Rubric from each group and Individual Task List from the groups’ members before their presentation starts. Have each group give their presentation. If omissions occur in their presentation, then fill in the omitted information after each presentation.

13a. Complete a Group Presentation Rubric and Individual Presentation Rubric during the presentation. These completed rubrics provide feedback to the groups and group members on their presentations. (Note: Using a video camera to tape the presentations will allow you to review questionable parts of the presentations at a later time.)

13b. Observe the students in the audience as they listen to the different presentations. Fill out a Listening Skills Checklist (see Associated Files) for students that are not displaying good listening skills. (For the students that display good listening skills, complete a Listening Skills Checklist giving positive comments after the presentations are completed. This will save you from having to do too much during the presentation.)

14. After the presentations are complete, have students turn in their Listening Skills Checklist and Student Presentation Guide. Check these and indicate the appropriate feedback before the next period.

15. During the next period, have the students sit with their presentation groups. Have the students answer questions for the lesson 2 part of the America Gears Up Journal (see Extensions).

15a. While they are working on the journal assignment, go over the Group Presentation Rubric for each group and the Individual Presentation Rubric for each of the group members, thus providing feedback on their presentations.

15b. Next, return Listening Skills Checklist sheets to all students. Provide feedback to the students that did not display good listening skills.

15c. Finally, return the checked Student Presentation Guide to all of the students so that they will be able to use the information to prepare for the second summative assessment of the unit.

16. If using this lesson with the America Gears Up unit, then remind students that they should be preparing for the Summative 3 assignment (see Extensions) introduced at the end of Lesson 1: From the Farm to the Factory. Give the students the Project Proposal Form found in this document and remind them that it is due at the end of the next lesson, Lesson 3: Labor Pains.


Assessments for this lesson are formative in nature and take several forms.

1. Students are assessed on their ability to work in groups to create an accurate and informative presentation through teacher observation during the preparation process and through the use of the Group Presentation Rubric during the actual presentations.

2. Listening skills are assessed through the Listening Skills Inventory Self Assessment and the Listening Skills Teacher Observation Checklist.

3. Individual oral presentations are assessed through the Individual Presentation Rubric.

4. Their ability to gather pertinent information from the presentations is assessed through the completeness of their Student Presentation Guides.

All of these assessments should be evaluated and returned to the students on the last day of this lesson providing them with feedback on their progress in mastering these skills and their knowledge of the subject.


The Beacon Unit Plan associated with this lesson can be viewed by clicking on the link located at the top of this page or by using the following URL: Once you select the unit’s link, scroll to the bottom of the unit plan page to find the section, “Associated Files.” This section contains links to the Unit Plan Overview, Diagnostic and Summative Assessments, and other associated files, (if any).

Web Links

This is a good source for a history of the Industrial Revolution in the United States after the Civil War.
Library of Congress: The Learning Page-The Rise of Industrial America 1865-1900

This site is the source for the political cartoons found in this lesson.
Ohio State Department of History: American History-Cartoons

Attached Files

Interpreting Political Cartoons      File Extension: pdf

PowerPoint-Big Business-Monkey Business      File Extension: ppt

Teacher Guide for the PowerPoint Presentation      File Extension: pdf

Group Activity Components      File Extension: pdf

Student Presentation Guide      File Extension: pdf

Listening Skills Inventory      File Extension: pdf

Listening Skills Inventory Self Assessment     File Extension: pdf

Listening Skills Teacher Observation Checklist      File Extension: pdf

Return to the Beacon Lesson Plan Library.