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Hope Through Eleanor

Stage 1: Identify Desired Results

Grade: Grade 10, Sophomore American History
Number of Class Periods: 1
Essential Questions:
Why did people write to Eleanor Roosevelt?
How do we communicate to our representatives?
What can primary sources teach us about the economic toll on people during the
Great Depression?
State of Michigan Content Standards (GLCEs/HSCEs):
7.1.2 Causes and Consequences of the Great Depression
o The economic and social toll of the Great Depression, including
unemployment and environmental conditions that affected farmers,
industrial workers and families (National Geography Standard 15, p. 214)
Learning Objectives:
Primary source documents and how we can analyze them
Using primary sources to show the economic impact on people during the Great
Content Rationale:
The letters to Eleanor Roosevelt was a particularly important way that the people sought
refuge through the Great Depression. The letters to Eleanor reflects the line of
communication that exists in the United States, between the head of state, or first lady,
and an average United States citizen. Another reason for the lesson was to highlight the
desperation of the average American person. For the average American during this
time, the belief that connecting to the head of state is quite strong and believable for
young people. These letters should give the students a way to better view the great
depression and a way to analyze primary source documents.
Instructional Strategy Rationale:
I think that my instructional strategies allow for students to not only learn the historical
content, but also to learn how to analyze a primary source and how to communicate with
a head of state (or, more accurately, the first lady). While the letter as a closing activity
may not be a letter to an elected official, it is still good practice for writing to an elected
official as well write it in the same way. The reason I am using primary source
documents is to create a sense of empathy throughout the students. I believe that the
students will have great benefits from going over the letters with their partners and

myself. The discussion in class will also help the teacher make sure that I hit the main
themes and ideas that I want the students to understand.
Background and Context:
Students should have covered the major causes of the Great Depression.
Students should also know the major points of the Great Depression
- People who were involved.
- Understanding what Black Tuesday was and what impact it had.
- Students should have the baseline knowledge that the Great Depression was
an incredibly forceful time period on many families, but this lesson aims to
give specific examples of hardships.
Students should know who some of the major political players were during the
Great Depression (including the First Lady).
This lesson will probably be more of a conclusion on the discussion of the
hardships of the Great Depression and segue into the programs that FDR started.
Stage 2: Determine Acceptable Evidence (Assessment)
Diagnostic Assessments: Bell ringer on what they know about Eleanor Roosevelt during
the Great Depression.
Formative Assessments: Fist to Five
Summative Assessments: Letter to First Lady Michelle Obama
Stage 3: Plan Learning Experiences (Procedure)
Instructional Strategy
1. We will look at several pictures from the Great Depression. This will give the
students a visual of the time period theyre studying and an image of what some
of the people who wrote the letters well cover later in the lesson might actually
look like.
1. I will first go through a letter myself, walking the students through the process.
- I will use the Elmo projector to highlight different points so the students
can see on the projector.
2. Students will read several different letters, written to the first lady, from several
people, giving different perspectives. These letters will be read out loud by the
students, in a way to keep them invested in the lesson.
3. Students will then work together in pairs or groups, working together to analyze
the letters to see what they can learn about the Great Depression from the

4. We will then come back together, as a class, and discuss what the students
highlighted and why they thought it was important. I will then lead a class
discussion centering on questions about who the authors of the letters were,
what they were asking, and why they would write directly to the first lady, and
why primary source documents are important to understand the Great
Discussion questions:
1. Why do you think people wrote to Eleanor Roosevelt?
2. What did you highlight?
- Why was what you highlighted important?
3. How does primary sources give you a better
understanding of the Great Depression?
4. What does the writing in the letters tell you about the
people writing them?
5. What does the items the people were asking for tell us
about the Great Depression?
Anticipated Students Interactions/Questions:
1. Why are we studying this?
2. What importance does this have to modern day?
3. Will writing to somebody, like the First Lady of the United States, really have
that big of an impact?
1. To connect the history of the Great Depression with todays world, I will have
the students write a letter to the first lady, Michelle Obama, about a personal
problem they have that they feel the first lady would be able to help. (If time is
limited, the students may not actually write the letter but will discuss what they
would write about).
- The letter should be about half a page to a full page in length.
Anticipated Total Time Required: One class session (Approx. 50 mins)
Other Important Information
I will write my own condensed version of the letters, to accommodate for reading
I will also have the student work with a partner for extra support.
I will allow the student, instead of writing half a page for the letter to the first
lady, to write a short paragraph to make sure they only get the main points of their
letter in.

Extension Ideas:
We can tie this into a lesson with a lesson about the head of state and the lines of
communication between a citizen and their elected representatives. We could also tie this
lesson in with discussing what the presidents role is and what the First Ladys role is.
This will also lead into the healing process of the Great Depression. It will segue into a
lesson on the Great Deal programs.