Lesson Plans for Dear Mrs. Roosevelt

Contributed by: Rachel Yarnell Thompson, an Adjunct Professor of Education at George Washington University, Washington, D.C., and a freelance educational writer. Until her retirement, she was a social studies teacher for 31 years in Fairfax County, Virginia.

Lesson 1: Analyzing the Letters

Estimated class time: One to two periods

Description: This lesson includes eleven tasks or questions to help students analyze the letters included at the New Deal Network. Each part of the lesson stands alone, so teachers can mix and match the elements to suit their curriculum needs. Each can be used with typical middle school and high school academic ranges and are appropriate for a U.S. History or American Civilization class.

Lesson 2: Hometown Children and the Depression

Estimated class time: Five to six class periods, plus out-of-school tasks

Description: This lesson is greater in scope than Lesson 1, although teachers can easily pare it down by implementing only one of the resource ideas or by simplifying the culminating activities. The lesson helps students use local resources to learn the connections between their own community and the topics in this feature. If the teacher uses the entire concept, it is suitable for gifted or advanced-placement students at middle school or high school levels. By offering lots of instruction and guidance, teachers can also challenge students of lower ability to discover the rewards that come from this kind of primary information gathering. This lesson is suitable for a U.S. History or American Civilization class.

Lesson 3: A Comparison With Children in Modern Times

Estimated class time: One to two periods, some intervening time to accomplish certain tasks, and one to two follow-up periods

Description: Individual students are assigned the task of finding out how things have changed for young people since the days of the Depression. Through an interviewing process, each student gathers information that allows comparisons between the two periods in history. If time is limited, the teacher may shorten the steps and scope of this project. Because a fair amount of independent information gathering is required for this lesson, it is probably more suitable for gifted or above-average students; however, with added guidance and instruction from the teacher, all ranges of students could do this. Although the lesson is certainly appropriate for U.S. History and American Civilization classes, it can also be used in a U.S. Government class.

Lesson 4: A Potpourri of Ideas

Estimated class time: Varies with the activity chosen; some take only a class period, others can take a week. Some tasks can be assigned for independent study or enrichment.

Description: This section provides a potpourri of activities designed to extend students' thinking about the content of the Web site. Each activity is different in scope and level of difficulty, but among the suggested lessons there is something for everybody. All of these activities can be used in a U.S. History or American Civilization class, and several are suitable for a U.S. Government class.