by Dennis Jenkins
Presidential Politics has been very busy during our first three days at VAMPY. My TA, Amber Lamastus, and I have enjoyed getting to work with each of the students as we studied the presidencies of John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. On the first day of class we examined categories that historians use to evaluate the effectiveness of a president’s administration, students watched a role-play of a debate between Kennedy and Nixon, and we compared commercials created by each of the candidates’ campaigns. Students then created their own posters for the 1960 election. After watching a clip over the legacy of Kennedy, we analyzed the ranking of his presidency. In study hall students examined a court case during the Kennedy years and worked on a poster.
On Tuesday, students presented their posters to the class before we watched a short documentary over the Kennedy years. Students were put in two teams where they researched the candidates in the 1964 election. We contrasted commercials from the election before we had a group debate over issues that shaped the election. Next we went to the computer lab to research stories that were shaping current events. Students watched a clip over the legacy of the Johnson years before we ended class doing a task rotation of two court cases during that era. In study hall students debated the Miranda v. Arizona case and watched a clip over the Johnson years.
In class on Wednesday we finished the Lyndon Johnson years before we read about Richard Nixon. Students were put into groups where they researched the 1968 election. We watched commercials of the 1968 and 1972 presidential elections, and students read and discussed three court cases during the presidency of Richard Nixon. We compared what historians listed as major events of the Nixon years to how it was presented on a short documentary over his presidency. Students then went to the computer lab for 30 minutes to research recent developments impacting presidential politics including the announcement of Anthony Kennedy retiring from the Supreme Court. The class next had a group debate between the campaign of Richard Nixon and George McGovern during the 1972 election. We also analyzed rankings of the Nixon and Ford presidencies, researched major events of the Ford years, and watched a short clip over the Ford administration. Near the end of class students watched political satire over Gerald Ford’s presidency. During study hall, students discussed the Roe vs. Wade court case and began preparing for our Supreme Court trial over Richard Nixon.