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Lesson 5: The Court-Packing Plan and the GM Sit-Down Strike

By Andrew Otocka

This writing assignment can be used either as a summative or formative assessment and is flexible enough for any level of student. Document-based questions are outstanding methods for promoting higher-order thinking skills.

The court-packing scheme and the GM Sit-Down Strike illustrate two of the enduring legacies of the Great Depression - increased federal involvement with the economy and the limits of executive power. They are highlighted in this assessment, and are meant to be combined with material covered previously.

Bell Activity: Have students answer the question "What kinds of lessons did farmers learn from the Dust Bowl?" in their journals.

Document Based Question: Collect primary sources on FDR's court-packing plan from the University of Virginia's Miller Center and also from the Truman Library. Collect primary sources on the GM Sit-Down Strike from

Print as many primary sources as you believe your students can effectively analyze in a class period/block. Distribute copies to all students, and ask them to answer the following question in an essay:

"Evaluate the legacy of the Great Depression. Why was this event important? What has changed as a result of it?"

Depending upon the level of your class, you can have students study for this the night before, or allow them to use their textbook, their class notes, or both to help answer the question. A good DBQ answer not only addresses the question asked, but also incorporates document analysis and imports outside knowledge. Good answers for this particular question will include information from previous days, not just the court-packing plan and the strike.