The History of Contested Presidential Elections

This lesson looks at the contested presidential elections occurring in 1800, 1824, 1876 and 2000. Using C-SPAN video clips, students will identify how each election was resolved and the consequences of these elections. They will apply this knowledge by describing similarities and differences between these examples and determining what lessons can be learned from these elections.

Grades 7-12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Interactives

Presidential Transitions

This lesson has students explore the challenges that incoming administrations face during presidential transitions. Students will hear from historians and from White House staff to learn about previous presidential transitions and how the administrations worked together. With this information, students will develop a list of best practices that can be used during these transitions.

Grades 9-12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Interactives

Electoral College Map Virtual Scavenger Hunt

This lesson has students explore C-SPAN’s online Historical Electoral College Map resource to learn about the process, history, and current patterns and trends relating to the Electoral College. This self-guided activity will have students use a series of online Electoral College maps and results from 1900 to 2016 to complete a virtual scavenger hunt. Students will use this resource to analyze maps and data to better understand how the Electoral College works.

Choice Board – How Effective Are Presidential Campaign Ads?

The methods in which candidates, political parties and interest groups promote their positions and policies have evolved since the first television campaign ads aired. In this lesson, students will view videos of historical presidential campaign advertisements and analyze the features found within each to determine the overall effectiveness.

Grades 9-12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Interactives

Comparing the 2020 Democratic and Republican National Conventions

Using clips from the Democratic National Convention (August 17-20, 2020) and the Republican National Convention (August 24-27, 2020), this lesson has students compare the speeches given at each party’s convention and develop summaries of the messaging and priorities of each party. Students will use this information to evaluate the effectiveness of each party’s message.

Grades 7-12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Media

2020 Presidential Candidates on the Issues

In this lesson, students will view video clips of the 2020 presidential candidates from the two major political parties discussing specific issues like the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy, immigration and the environment. Students will use these primary source video clips of President Trump and former Vice President Biden to summarize the candidates’ views on these issues and formulate their own opinions on the candidates.

Grades 7-12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Media

Predicting the 2020 Presidential Election

In this lesson, students will view video clips highlighting competitive states in the 2020 presidential race. Using information from these video clips and polling data, students will make predictions for each swing state and use an interactive electoral college map to determine which candidate will win the 270 electoral votes needed to become president. Students will be able to identify pathways for both candidates to win the Electoral College and evaluate the likelihood of each scenario. 

Grades 7-12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Interactives

The Appointment of Sandra Day O’Connor

The U.S. Constitution grants the President the power to appoint people to a variety of government positions. These appointments require careful thought and consideration since the people can have a great impact on the lives of many Americans during that President’s term. Some appointments need even greater thought and consideration, and those are to the federal judicial system and more importantly, to the Supreme Court of the United States. Justices of the Supreme Court (and other federal courts) serve lifetime appointments. Their rulings as they interpret the Constitution, and other situations as outlined in Article III of the Constitution, can have far-reaching effects for generations. With this awesome power to appoint comes an equally awesome responsibility to make sure that the individuals are the best people for the job. In this lesson, students will examine the appointment of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who was also the first female Justice. Students will examine the process by which a President makes the selection and the steps that lead to that person being confirmed by the Senate (or not).

Executive Power in Times of Crisis

This lesson explores the use of executive power in times of crisis in relation to both the Constitution and the legislation of the time. Using exclusive primary source material from the National Archives at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, students will explore how President Lincoln, President Reagan, and President Obama utilized their executive power against the respective threats of their time.

Cold War Document Based Question

Utilizing primary source documents from the archives of Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon, and Reagan, this piece of curriculum is modeled after the Advanced Placement Document Based Questions. This question invites students to explore U.S. Cold War foreign policy through the lens the office of the presidency, and to develop crucial critical thinking and writing skills.