Section A: Internet Resource Guide for Teachers
While this curriculum unit contains several ideas for classes to be covered that pertain to American political thought, it is also to serve as a teachers’ guide to the Internet. I have found a large amount of curricula that teachers may want to look at, edit and use for their own classrooms. This section on World Wide Web resources will help teachers find a huge amount of information and will allow them to pick and choose certain lesson plans which they feel comfortable teaching.
Lesson Plans for Dear Mrs. Roosevelt
The following lessons came from a webpage devoted to the New Deal, and this particular one focuses on the letters sent to Eleanor Roosevelt by a wide range of suffering citizens. In each lesson there lies a link to the types of letters that were written. On the WWW, the underlined words written in blue are actually links to these sites. It can be found at the following URL: http://newdeal.feri.org/classrm/classdmr.htm
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.
Section B: Curriculum Development Projects
As previously stated, this curriculum unit acts to serve as a guide for teachers. While several lesson plans have been included that are original ideas, many of the following plans come from other teachers all over the United States. They are included in this unit to promote creative unit composition and increase flexibility when teachers pattern their curriculum by age groups and academic levels.
The New Deal Network is assisting the following projects by providing materials development, technical support, and curriculum support from educators at the Institute for Learning Technologies, and by fostering a nationwide community of teachers, scholars and students. Some projects are already online and well underway. Others are just beginning to be developed. If you have a New Deal-era project that you wish to include in this group, or if you can offer assistance to any of these projects, contact the NDN Project Director at thurstonilt.columbia.edu.
The Bland County History Archives Project (http://www.teci.net/bland/rocky/archives.html)
Student’s in John Dodson’s US History classes in Rocky Gap High School, located in southwestern Virginia, will be documenting the impact of the Great Depression in their community, using oral histories, photographs and other primary documents.
We Made Do: Recalling the Great Depression (http://www.mcsc.k12.in.us/mhs/social/madedo/)
An oral history of the Depression era developed by Don Adams’ 11th grade U.S. History classes at Mooresville High School. Don and his students are interested in obtaining more primary documents about New Deal programs and politics in the Mooresville, Indiana area (near Indianapolis) and they are committed to documenting the experiences of the people who lived through this critical period in our country’s history. We Made Do has a forms-based interviewing system built into its homepage.
FDR Cartoon Archive
This award-winning site contains political cartoons from the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt. This preservation project is a cooperative venture of the AP Computer Math class and the AP United States History classes at Niskayuna High School, in upstate New York. Paul Bachorz, a Niskayuna High School US History Teacher and the project coordinator, looks forward to developing more lesson plans to accompany the cartoon archive and to make these editorial cartoons available for alternative educational uses.
Jersey Homesteads (http://scc01.rutgers.edu/newjerseyhistory/welcome.htm)
A web site on the New Deal planned community of Jersey Homesteads (now Roosevelt, NJ), produced by Spotswood High School and Hunterdon Central Regional High School in collaboration with Rutgers University and the New Jersey Historical Commission. William Marshall, Tom Fruciano, and Bill Fernekes are the project leaders.
Documenting Depression-era Murals in Upstate New York
Matt Fidler’s US History class at Rome Free Academy will be documenting and creating a gallery of New Deal murals in upstate New York. Art historians and educators at Syracuse University will be assisting in the development of this Living Schoolbook Project (http://lsb.syr.edu/).
The Civilian Conservation Corps in Utah
Students in Joel K. Briscoe’s US History and AP Government classes at Bountiful High School, in Bountiful, Utah, will be creating a Web site about the work of the CCC in Utah. The CCC brought young men from predominantly urban areas to Utah, where they were involved in land reclamation projects, created recreational facilities, and built roads through remote mountain and desert areas. Joel is especially interested in hearing from anyone who may have worked on these Utah CCC projects.
A Teaching Guide to
The Grapes of Wrath
A team of two English teachers and one US History teacher at J. F. Kennedy High School in Fremont, California, will be developing online curriculum materials to accompany an interdisciplinary American Studies course on John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.
Carrollton, Texas During the Great Depression
An online essay project in which students from April Adams’ social studies classroom at R.L. Turner High School will be investigating and reporting on the impact of the Great Depression on their community, which is located near Dallas, Texas. April would like to include oral histories and essays dealing with the New Deal building projects and fine art projects in their area.
South Baton Rouge During the Great Depression
The T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History, at Louisiana State University, is working with classes at McKinley High School in documenting the history of the African-American community in Baton Rouge during the Great Depression. Students will be conducting oral histories and working with primary documents.
Poverty During the Great Depression: Williamsburg and the Caribbean
Students in John Galvin’s eighth grade social studies class at the Eugenio Maria de Hostos Intermediate School, located in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn, New York, will be documenting the Williamsburg community’s responses to poverty during the Great Depression. Using oral histories, students will compare and contrast the impact of the Great Depression in the United States and in the Caribbean.
From Isolationism to Internationalism: Roosevelt’s Impact on US Foreign Policy
Charlotte Gillam, an educator in Rutland, Vermont, will be designing an online feature and curriculum materials on Roosevelt’s efforts to move the nation from isolationism to internationalism, based in part on primary documents from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.
Highland Park’s Edgar Britton Murals: Using Public Art for Interdisciplinary Study
Connie Kieffer, Fine and Applied Arts Department Chair at Highland Park (Illinois) High School, will be developing a curriculum centered on public art in interdisciplinary study, using Highland Park’s Edgar Britton mural as her model.
The New Deal in Eastern Kentucky
History teacher Kevin Simon and his students at Sayre School, in Lexington, Kentucky, will study the impact of New Deal programs and projects in the mountain regions of eastern Kentucky.
Envisioning Technology in the 1930s
Students in Philip Weinberg’s American Studies classes at the High School of Telecommunication Arts and Technology in Brooklyn, New York, will study representations of technology during the 1930s, using advertising materials, photographs and articles.
@Text:Making a Mural of Memories
In this interdisciplinary project, history students at Rome Academy, in upstate New York, will conduct oral history interviews with survivors of the Great Depression. Art students will then construct a mural drawing from these accounts. Judi Mullin is directing the project.
Teaching with Evergood’s “The Story of Richmond Hill”
Mah-Bobe Ghods, a graduate student in Art Education at Teachers College in New York City, will be developing curriculum around the Philip Evergood painting, “The Story of Richmond Hill,” a mural in the Richmond Hill Branch of the Queens Borough Library.
Work Relief in Fort Wayne
Sholom Gold, a graduate student at Teachers College, will be developing a curriculum piece on work relief in Fort Wayne, Indiana, using newspaper articles and documentary photographs from the Works Progress Administration.
Section C: Archives Form
National Archives and Records Administration Written Document Analysis Worksheet
1. TYPE OF DOCUMENT (Check one):
___ Newspaper ___ Map ___ Letter
___ Telegram ___ Advertisement ___ Congressional record
___ Census report ___ Report ___ Press release
___ Patent ___ Memorandum ___ Other
2. UNIQUE PHYSICAL QUALITIES OF THE DOCUMENT (Check one or more):
___ Interesting letterhead ___ Notations ___ Seals
___ Handwritten ___ “RECEIVED” stamp
___ Typed ___ Other
3. DATE(S) OF DOCUMENT: _________________________________________
4. AUTHOR (OR CREATOR) OF THE DOCUMENT: _______________________
POSITION (TITLE): _________________________________________________
5. FOR WHAT AUDIENCE WAS THE DOCUMENT WRITTEN? ______________
6. DOCUMENT INFORMATION (There are many possible ways to answer A-E.)
A. List three things the author said that you think are important:
B. Why do you think this document was written?
C. What evidence in the document helps you know why it was written? Quote from the document.
D. List two things the document tells you about life in the United States at the time it was written:
E. Write a question to the author that is left unanswered by the document:
Section D: Joining an Online Discussion List
Another great opportunity that is available on the internet for teachers are the e-mail discussion lists. Lists are available on many different topics and they allow people to collaborate on projects, research, techniques, scheduling, and many other activities. The following list is one for theatre professionals. Largely used by academics, this list often has answers and suggestions to questions that most books and other reference types can’t possibly supply. Here are a few suggestions from list members on the topic of plays written on the theme of American political thought:
I’d suggest looking back at the Living Newspapers produced by the Federal Theatre Project, particularly “One-Third of a Nation”. This play deals with poverty in America and traces the development of slums in New York. It was originally designed by Howard Bay and culminated in a tenement fire. There’s nothing like fire onstage to catch the attention of high schoolers and adults alike! While it does not deal with individuals in depth (addressing the issues rather than the personalities), it is worthy of consideration in relation to “American Political Thought” and took its title from FDR’s second inaugural address.
If you are looking for plays addressing issues pertinent to inner city students, I attended a high school matinee of August Wilson’s “Fences” at Syracuse Stage some years ago which was absolutely electric. The kids responded very well to the subjects and the actors were very fired up by the audience response. And there’s always “Hair” for a diversion. Best of luck! I’d be very interested to hear what you end up with.
* John P. Devlin ** Designer/Technical Director *
* Department of Performing Arts *
* Marquette University Helfaer Theatre *
* P.O. Box 1881, Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881 *
* phone: (414) 288-6398 fax: (414) 288-7048 *
* e-mail: devlinjvms.csd.mu.edu *
One thing most Am. Political Plays have in common is that they have a preponderance of men in them. If you’d like to consider a play that looks at the process for the other half of the citizenry, may I suggest my “Spirit and Flesh”? It’s about Victoria Woodhull, who ran for President in 1872 on a platform of Equal Rights and Free Love. I understand the New Yorker has a piece about the lady this week although my copy of the current issue has yet to arrive, so I can’t swear to it. Last week’s New York Times Book Review’s cover feature, complete with photo, was a review of two new biographies of the Woodhull: Goldsmith’s “Other Powers” and Gabriel’s “Notorious Victoria”. The week before, PARADE, the Sunday Supplement that comes in most papers that aren’t the Times, had an interview with Goldsmith about Victoria’s political and sexual career. I assume the authors will do the talk show circuit, and soon the nation will have at least heard the name of this scandalous 19th century celebrity. There will be material for students to look up and compare to the play.
I began S&F during a previous flurry of interest in Woodhull, in the early 1970’s, when the Second Wave of the Woman’s Movement was searching the recent past for heroines. Vicky proved to be almost as controversial in 1970 as she was a hundred years earlier, and women who wanted to celebrate her life as an Heroic Foremother found they had a lot to censor out or explain away. “Spirit and Flesh” is an epic account of Victoria’s life, warts and all. The script has had a number of readings, including one in London earlier this year. The readings are always followed by lively audience discussions, because the issues that made Woodhull controversial in 1870 sexual freedom, occult spirituality, politics as the manipulation of opinion by whatever means necessary, including the Big Lie are alive and taken personally today. You can find a big chunk of “Spirit and Flesh” on my Web Page, (though I’m currently doing yet one more re-write, in response to the recent reading)If the subject interests you, please take a look at the play. If you like it enough to want to read the rest, I can email or snail the script to you.
“The Patriots” by Sidney Kingsley (1943) about the conflict between Jefferson and Hamilton.
“Tom Paine” by Paul Foster (1968).
A few years ago (while Reagan was in the White House) I produced OF THEE I SING at my school. Non-theatre friends accused me of writing a modern political commentary and trying to pass it off as a Gershwin musical. (I didn’t change a word!) you might also want to check out Gary Trudeau’s RAP MASTER RONNIE.
You could create a whole curriculum just around Lincoln plays. Two of interest are Norman Corwin’s “The Rivalry” which uses transcripts from the Lincoln-Douglas debates and Suzan-Lori Parks’ “The America Play,” a fantastical, surreal work featuring a black man masquerading as Lincoln, making a living by getting repeatedly assassinated by whomever pays a ticket. Both use Lincoln to talk about race, which would neatly branch out into other disciplines and areas of interest, from the Civil War to the Civil Rights movement.
Two Lawrence & Lee plays, Inherit the Wind and The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail, come to mind: neither “political” in the narrow sense, but certainly so in a more general way. If the plays don’t have to be based on specific characters or events, there’s lots more: I was thinking about Waiting for Lefty in another context just yesterday, for example... There are also a number of monodramas about famous political figures: trouble is, most of them aren’t in print.
I would suggest looking into the Federal Theatre Project and the Living Newspaper. I think your students would be surprised at the innovative form and documentary style hearking back to the thirties. Gwen
Section E: Library Resources
Fast, Howard. Citizen Tom Paine. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1986
Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. New York: Popular Library, 1960
Paul, Richard W, PhD, and Elder, Linda, PhD. Exploring Thoughts Underlying Feelings and Feelings Underlying Thoughts, Sonoma College, Santa Rosa California: Center and Foundation For Critical Thinking, 1995 URL: http://www.sonoma.edu/cthink/
Key, Janis. “To Kill a Mockingbird” a teacher’s project at Vintage High School, Napa, CA http://www.sonoma.edu/cthink/K12/k12class/9-12/mock.nclk