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Teaching Guide

Teaching FDR's New Deal

Make history feel like new.


The New Deal isn't exactly new anymore. It's older than Animal Farm, Death of a Salesman, and even Pat the Bunny. But like all of those books (especially Pat the Bunny), it's still relevant to all our lives. This teaching guide will help you prove that to your students.

In this guide you will find

  • modern resources that compare and contrast FDR with BHO (Barack Hussein Obama).
  • links to related history like the Great Depression and Labor Unions.
  • activities analyzing the statistics, symbols, and documents of the time.

Make the New Deal seem new again with our help.

What's Inside Shmoop's History Teaching Guides

Shmoop is a labor of love from folks who love to teach. Our teaching guides will help you supplement in-classroom learning with fun, engaging, and relatable learning materials that bring history to life.

Inside each guide you'll find quizzes, activity ideas, discussion questions, and more—all written by experts and designed to save you time. Here are the deets on what you get with your teaching guide:

  • 3-5 Common Core-aligned activities (including quotation, image, and document analysis) to complete in class with your students, with detailed instructions for you and your students. 
  • Discussion and essay questions for all levels of students.
  • Reading quizzes to be sure students are looking at the material through various lenses.
  • Resources to help make the topic feel more relevant to your 21st-century students.
  • A note from Shmoop’s teachers to you, telling you what to expect from teaching the topic and how you can overcome the hurdles.

Instructions for You

Historians continue to debate the effectiveness of Roosevelt's New Deal in combating the Depression. In this exercise your students will examine some statistical data from the era and hypothesize as to what it reveals about the economy's performance during the 1930s and whether this performance might be linked to the New Deal.

1. Direct your students to these sites and ask them to chart and summarize the changes between 1929 and 1941 for each of the following:

  • Unemployment rates
  • GNP
  • GNP per capita
  • The American auto industry
  • Federal spending as a percentage of the GNP
  • Private real investment (money invested into land and machinery as opposed to stocks and bonds)

Statistical Sources:

2. Ask your students to draw up a list of statements summarizing the statistics.

3. Sort your class into two sides. Ask one side to prepare to argue that the New Deal contributed to the improvement of the economy. Ask the other to prepare to argue that the New Deal did not contribute to the improvement in the economy.

Instructions for Your Students

Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal was an ambitious and creative attempt to restore prosperity through government action after the economy took a nose dive into the Great Depression. But was it effective? Take a look at these statistics and be prepared to use them in arguing for or against the effectiveness of the New Deal.

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