Students study Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon in the first days of Presidential Politics

By Dennis Jenkins
The Center for Gifted Studies at WKU
The Center for Gifted Studies at WKU

Thank you for allowing me the privilege of being your child’s teacher at VAMPY for the next three weeks as we study presidential politics from 1960 to the present. Mitchell Clouse and I have enjoyed working with our class the past two days!

On Monday we discussed criteria that historians use to rank presidents. Students took a pre-test over presidential politics. We also discussed some of the biggest decisions that presidents have made. The class watched a role-play of one of the televised debates between John Kennedy and Richard Nixon in the 1960 election as Mitchell and I portrayed the candidates answering questions from students who posed as journalists. We then contrasted different campaign commercials from 1960. Students discussed what they liked and disliked from the commercials. The class read part of JFK’s First Inaugural Address and then watched part of the legacy of JFK’s presidency. In study hall last night, students completed a ranking task activity over their perspective of President Kennedy’s most important decisions.

On Tuesday we discussed the strengths and weaknesses of JFK’s presidency, and we ended the first part of class by watching a clip over JFK’s legacy. We watched several commercials from the candidates in the 1964 election before students were assigned political parties to make campaign posters for Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater. The class then watched two of their peers participate in a role-play debate between LBJ (Dawson) and Barry Goldwater (Emma). Both students did a great job representing each candidate! Two other students served as campaign managers for this debate: Evie and Stuart were very helpful to their respective candidates!

After lunch students went to the library to take a political survey to find out which political party their beliefs lined up with. Students researched the biggest decisions that Lyndon Johnson made as president after we analyzed how historians rank the legacy of LBJ. We then watched a clip over LBJ’s presidency. In study hall students researched two court cases during the 1960s.

On Wednesday our class will examine the legacy of the Richard Nixon years as we analyze some of the major issues and events that Nixon faced in addition to researching some of the cases that the Supreme Court dealt with during his presidency.

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