Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum


Presidential Election Politics: Past to Present. A focus on the Presidential elections of 1796, 1948 and 2016
Author:
Tim Gallagher
Course:
US History
Time Frame:
2-3 days
Grade Levels:
10, 11, 12

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:

This lesson will allow students to gain insights into the political customs and traditions associated with presidential elections.  Many U.S. Citizens grow frustrated with much of the politicking that takes place during presidential election years.  This lesson is aimed at helping students to gain a better understanding of how things ended up this way.  Additionally, this lesson will challenge students to brainstorm ways to effectively improve the political arena of presidential politics.  Students will be involved in drawing evaluative conclusions about presidential politics.  Students will be involved in completing an individual analysis and evaluation of multiple resources so that they can draw some conclusions in relation presidential election politics...past and present.  Students will also be involved in cooperative-group learning.  In this lesson, students will have the opportunity to utilize their fellow students as

sounding boards with relation to their thoughts and perspectives about the challenges posed by presidential election politics.  Technology will be utilized (our school has a 1 to 1 computer program).  Insights and notes shared by Jeffrey Pasley and David Pietrusza during the Truman Library Teachers Conference will be utilized with students.  And, a variety of documents generated or initiated as President Truman ran for re-election will be evaluated.  We will utilize our investigations, as a class, to explore how past presidential election politics continue to serve as a springboard toward our current presidential election politics.  This lesson will aim to challenge students to assess and evaluate Presidential Election Politics with the purpose in mind of improving the process.

Rationale:

I will be doing this lesson/activity to assist students in better understanding how politics impacts presidential elections and the lives of citizens of this nation.  When investigating presidential election politics, students frequently ask questions like...Why don't candidates play nice?  Why don't political parties focus on the positives of their candidate rather than going after the negatives of the other candidate(s)?  Why does this process have to last so long?  How do we really know that the issues pursued during the election will continue to be pursued once a candidate is elected to the presidency?  Do those involved in presidential election processes really care about the average American?  Who is really influencing the political arena surrounding presidential elections...is it the rich and powerful...or...is it the common, hardworking, middle class American?...And, the list of these types of questions continues on and on.  So, I am initiating this lesson to engage students in learning about Presidential Election Politics.  Additionally, I would like to see students gain an understanding of how our policy decisions are formed that potentially shape the direction that our nation heads.

District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met:


-Iowa Common Core: SS.09-12.PS.03 and MISIC Code: SS.09-12.06.01

                        -Explain the purpose of government and analyze how its powers are

                        acquired, used and justified.  Identify basic principles and responsibilities

                        associated with each branch of government.

            -Iowa Common Core:  SS.09-12.PS.02 and MISIC Code:  SS.09-12.10.02

                        -Interpret and evaluate sources and examples of citizens' rights and

                        responsibilities.

            -Iowa Common Core:  SS.09-12.PS.05 and MISIC Code:  SS.09-12.10.03

                        -Practice forms of civic discussion and participation consistent with the ideals

                        of citizens in a democratic republic, and investigate how it can shape public

                        policy.

            -Iowa Common Core:  SS.09-12.PS.06 and MISIC Code:  SS.09-12.06.03

                        -Evaluate the role of technology in communication, information processing or

                        other areas as it contributes to or helps resolve conflict.

            -Iowa Common Core:  SS.09-12.H.01 and MISIC Code:  SS.09-12.02.04

                        -Systematically employ critical inquiry to analyze and interpret the past.

 

 

            -Iowa Common Core:  SS.09-12.H.02 and MISIC Code:  SS.09-12.02.02

                        -Identify and analyze characteristics, causes and consequences of an event,                                 issue or problem. Explain the major historical events that occurred during

                        a time period.

            -Iowa Common Core:  SS.09-12.H.02 and MISIC Code:  SS.09-12.02.03

                        -Analyze and evaluate the historical backgrounds which have led to the

                        present day civilizations. Analyze patterns historians utilize.

            -Iowa Common Core:  SS.09-12.H.04 and MISIC Code:  SS.09-12.02.03

                        -Analyze and evaluate the historical backgrounds which have led to the

                        present day civilizations.  Analyze the actions of individuals and groups in

                        the development of historical events.  Identify significant individuals who have

                        affected historical development in positive or negative ways.

            -Iowa Common Core:  SS.09-12.H.08 and MISIC Code:  SS.09-12.02.05

                        -Analyze and explain how historical backgrounds have led to the present

                        developments of various systems of government.

 

 

            *MISIC= Mid Iowa School Improvement Consortium

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:

-Notes from Truman Institute presenter...Jeffrey Pasley, University of Missouri

                        -Pictures of exhibits and documents secured from the Truman Library Teachers

                        Conference...A More Perfect Union: How Critical Presidential Elections

                        Reshaped the Constitution.

                        -Notes and book references from Edward Larson...America's First Presidential

                        Election...from the Truman Library Teachers Conference.

                        -Notes from the presentation of David Pietrusza; 1948:  Harry Truman's

                        Improbable Victory and the Year that Transformed America...from the Truman

                        Library Teachers Conference.

                        -Student found articles and videos...from NET searches.  These articles and

                        videos will focus on our current presidential election as well as several past                                    elections.

                        -Handout from the Truman Library Teachers Conference "Presidential Elections:

                        Washington to Obama"...site locations for each election.

Primary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:

-Quotes and pictures from the Truman Library and Museum (See lesson details)

                        -Documents, pictures, letters, notes and audio of President Truman...found

                        at trumanlibrary.org (documents, election campaign 1948)

                                    -Students will choose their articles, audios, comics, etc.

                        -Handout provided by Jeffrey Pasley referencing views and positions of John

                        Adams.

                        -Student located primary documents found on the NET...

                                    -Some of the NET sources can be found on the handout from the

                                    Truman Library Teachers Conference "Presidential Elections: 

                                    Washington to Obama"...site locations for each election.

                                    (Election of 1796, Election of 1948...Students will choose the articles,                                             comics, etc. to be examined)

                                    -Some of the NET sources can be found at the National Archives and

                                    Library of Congress sites.  I will allow students to choose sources.

                        -Current videos/interviews of candidates running for office (Any major media                                source NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, FOX News, etc.)

Full description of activity or assignment.

-Quotes and pictures from the Truman Library and Museum (See lesson details)

                        -Documents, pictures, letters, notes and audio of President Truman...found

                        at trumanlibrary.org (documents, election campaign 1948)

                                    -Students will choose their articles, audios, comics, etc.

                        -Handout provided by Jeffrey Pasley referencing views and positions of John

                        Adams.

                        -Student located primary documents found on the NET...

                                    -Some of the NET sources can be found on the handout from the

                                    Truman Library Teachers Conference "Presidential Elections: 

                                    Washington to Obama"...site locations for each election.

                                    (Election of 1796, Election of 1948...Students will choose the articles,                                             comics, etc. to be examined)

                                    -Some of the NET sources can be found at the National Archives and

                                    Library of Congress sites.  I will allow students to choose sources.

                        -Current videos/interviews of candidates running for office (Any major media                                source NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, FOX News, etc.)

 

 

Fully describe the activity or assignment in detail.  What will both you and the students do?

 

Day one...

 

I will ask students to share their thoughts about the presidential election process and the politics involved with this process.

 

This sharing/discussion should lead students to be curious about how things have evolved to what they are today in the area of presidential election politics.  With this curiosity in mind, I will have students examine the current presidential political arena in greater detail by reading and sharing one current article from a news media source that is covering this topic.  Once students have selected and read their articles, I will have them share what they have read and any special insights or further questions.  Discussion on several of the articles will most likely occur.

 

To conclude day one...I will have students individually brainstorm ways to effectively improve upon our current presidential election politics.  My expectation would be 5 to 10 brainstormed

ideas.

 

Day Two...

 

I will begin today by having students share one of their brainstormed ideas.  Then, I will challenge them to consider what has happened in the past.  I will inquire as to whether student insights have been implemented in the past and I will challenge students to see how perhaps custom and tradition have helped to shape our current presidential election political environment.

 

At this point I will have students examine resources from the Truman Library Teachers Conference relating to the 1796 and 1948 elections.  In groups of 3, I will have students examine the various documents and videos.  With the insights they have gathered, I will have them share what they have learned about presidential election politics.  Each group will be responsible for sharing: What have you read about or viewed?, What are your thoughts in relation to what you have read about or viewed? and...What have you learned about in relation to presidential election politics?

 

When students have finished sharing, I will have each student assess, in writing, the similarities and differences from the various years.  I will also have them evaluate whether the political arena surrounding presidential elections has improved over the years. 

 

I will then have students complete, in writing, a Guidelines Activity for day three.  Each student will be asked to create a listing of at least 5 guidelines they would implement in relation to presidential election politics.  Support for each guideline will be expected.

 

Day Three...

 

I will begin today by talking about how people tend to get frustrated with presidential politics.  I will give lots of examples from my observations over the past two day.  I will also let students know that they have been involved in a very important process...All too often, all we do is complain without doing anything about it.  I will let students know that they have all created/ crafted guidelines for making an improved arena in relation to presidential election politics.  I will let them know that their guidelines can be utilized to voice potential positive changes to the customs and traditions utilized over the years. 

 

At this point, I will have each student share their guidelines.  From what is shared, as a class, we will create an action plan to present to the Republican, Democrat and significant third party National Committees and any future presidential candidate. 

 

This activity will ultimately allow students to be involved in our American Democracy in a positive manner.  And, it could lead to possible changes that will enhance the quality of our political environment.

Full explanation of the assessment method and/or scoring guide:

-This lesson is part of a larger unit relating to the Executive Branch in Government and                 Our American Political History in History.

            -I will incorporate elements of this lesson into a future test.  Essay questions will be used

            to allow students to share with me what they have learned in relation to Presidential

            Election Politics.

            -I will utilize an objective evaluation...I will observe students as they grasp the focus of                  this lesson during discussions and investigation sessions...are they getting it?  Based on           listening to and watching students, I will be able to evaluate the learning taking place.

            -I will utilize the above evaluation essays/Guidelines Activity (see guidelines previously                  outlined) to assess how well students understand the significance of the politics involved

            with presidential elections...past and present.  And, I will utilize this assignment to assist

            students in understanding the positive influence they can have on shaping the journey                   we are in...in relation to our great democracy known as the United States of America.