1) Students will conduct research to find specific facts about certain U.S. Presidents
2) Students will investigate presidents who were war heroes and report briefly on their war records.
3) Students will investigate presidents who were war heroes and briefly report on the defining issues of their presidency.
4) Students will form an opinion and communicate it in writing regarding the success of war heroes as U.S. Presidents.
1) The teacher will begin the lesson by asking the students if they can name any presidents who were elected because they were war heroes. These names will be listed on the chalkboard, whiteboard, or smart board. This lesson will focus on five presidents: Washington, Jackson, Taylor, Grant and Eisenhower. Other names may be presented such as John F. Kennedy, Theodore Roosevelt, or George H. W. Bush, but it should be stressed that although these men were in the military and may have been war heroes they weren’t elected because of that service.
2) The teacher will then split the class into five groups. Using the websites for each president listed below as “starters,” each group will be assigned one of the five presidents. This may be done in any way the teacher sees fit, but one suggestion would be to use mixed ability groups and assign the presidents by having the groups choose names blindly using note cards chosen upside-down. Each group will conduct research on the president they are assigned. The assignment is to identify highlights of that president’s military service and to identify the defining issues of his Presidency. Each group will present their research to the class so each student can complete their notes work sheet. The teacher may even want to have each group create a PowerPoint of their research in order to more effectively present their research. Poster board or large sheets of paper are also options.
3) Once the presentations are complete and the students all have their notes completed they will complete the short essay on the bottom of the notes page. This task will be individual. The prompt is as follows: In your opinion do military heroes make good presidents? Use facts from the notes above and your own judgment and experience to support your ideas.
Compiling the results determined by the students and creating an “effectiveness” table to rank the effectiveness of the presidents studied could extend this lesson. The class could come up with various criteria to accomplish this.
This lesson was developed by Robert McClelland, Cleveland Metropolitan School District.