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6-8 > U.S. History
Grade level: 6-8 Subject: U.S. History Duration: Two class periods
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Objectives | Materials | Procedures | Adaptations | Discussion Questions | Evaluation | Extensions | Suggested Readings | Links | Vocabulary | Academic Standards | Credit
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Objectives

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Carter as President and Ex-President




Students will understand the following:
1.Presidents are judged during their time in office and afterward as well.
2.Presidents often outline their goals in their inaugural addresses.
Materials

For this lesson, you will need:
Access to past presidential inaugural addresses
Procedures

1.To give students a chance to reinforce what they know about facts versus opinions in journalism, give them this two-part assignment: Respond to Jimmy Carter’s inaugural address by (1) writing a news story about the speech and (2) writing a newspaper editorial about it.

Begin by asking students where they should look for a copy of the speech, delivered on January 20, 1977. If using the Internet, what keywords would they put into a search engine?

2.When you or a student has obtained the speech, make copies available to all students. Suggest that they read the speech to themselves at least twice, annotating it or taking notes from it as they go through it the second time. To help students in their annotating or note taking, you might suggest they
  • point out phrases and sentences that they think memorable,
  • pay attention to what Carter says about a president and the people working together,
  • remark on whom or what Carter labels the enemy,
  • trace what he says about dreams,
  • trace what he says about spirituality or religion, and,
  • clearly identify Carter’s goals for the next four years.
3.Ask students to put the speech and their notes aside for a while, and teach or review with students the elements of a straight news story. These elements include
  • answering the journalist’s five W and H questions,
  • putting most important facts first, saving less important details until later in the story (inverted-pyramid structure),
  • using objective rather than subjective words,
  • including enough details so that the reader feels like an eyewitness to an event, and,
  • reporting quotations absolutely accurately.
4.Decide whether you want students to work independently, in pairs, or in small groups. Let them retrieve their notes or annotations on the Carter speech. Give them time to prewrite, draft, and revise the texts of their news stories about the inaugural address.
5.Now turn to instruction in or a review of the elements of an editorial. These elements include
  • clearly stating an opinion (in this case, an opinion of Carter’s content and delivery),
  • providing sufficient details to support the opinion,
  • acknowledging why some readers may disagree with the editorial’s position, responding to those readers’ views, and
  • calling for some action by the person being written about or by the readers of the editorial.
6.Once again, decide whether you want students to work independently, in pairs, or in small groups, and give them time to prewrite, draft, and revise the texts of their editorials about the inaugural address.
7.Have students, pairs, or groups exchange their two pieces of writing with another student, pair, or group. Ask each recipient to read and then comment on whether the two pieces differ sufficiently in tone or approach to the subject matter. If not, what does the writer or writers have to do to make the first piece sound more like a news account and the second more like an opinion piece?
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Adaptations

Adaptations for Older Students:
Ask older students to produce a comparison-contrast piece of writing. They must analyze not only Jimmy Carter’s inaugural address but also Ronald Reagan’s first inaugural. How are the two speeches alike or different in content and style? What can students conclude about each new president’s vision for the United States of America?
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Discussion Questions

1.In the program, Carter remarks that average American citizens were the ones that shaped the moral and ethical standards of our country and preserved it in times of tribulation. Explain how this statement could be considered a declaration of the Carter presidency.
2.How do Carter's religious values and moral idealism help explain his political behavior, societal involvements and presidential style?
3.Are the critics correct in suggesting that Carter would have been a more effective president if he had been a more able politician? Explain your position.
4.The program offers two perspectives of President Carter's malaise speech. In your opinion, how will history judge this speech? Explain your position.
5.During the Iran hostage negotiations, Carter established several critical boundaries for the Ayatollah. What were these boundaries and how does this showcase Carter's diplomatic skills? How would you have responded if you had been commander in chief?
6.Carter says that because some Americans cherish the freedom of waste they exploit our nation's natural resources. Is this an accurate and fair assessment of American environmental situation? Justify your answer.
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Evaluation

You can evaluate your students on their work using the three-point rubric:
  • Three points: complete facts in news story and clearly stated and supported opinion in editorial; appropriately organized news story; logical, persuasive argument in the editorial.
     
  • Two points: more facts and details needed in one or both pieces; appropriately organized news story; clear argument in the editorial.
     
  • One point: few facts; disorganized news story; weak argument in the editorial.
You can ask your students to contribute to the assessment rubric by determining how many facts should be required and what would constitute a well-organized presentation. For older students, the rubric can be adapted to assess facts, organization, and persuasiveness (of the conclusion) of the comparison-contrast pieces.
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Extensions

The Lighter Side
Create a political comic book that satirizes key events occurring during the four years of the Carter presidency.

Dear Mr. President
Assume you are a special political advisor to Carter during the last half of his presidency. Write a memorandum to the president offering your advice on how he can best solidify political support for the 1980 election. In your memo, be sure to address those issues Carter would have faced in the late 1970s.

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Suggested Readings

"Jimmy Carter: Thirty-ninth President of the United States, 1977-1981"
Wyatt Blassingame, The Look-it-up Book of Presidents, Random House, 1993
The highs and lows of Carter's presidency, including the Middle East peace accord of 1979 and the Iranian hostage crisis, are listed in this reference work.

"The Rising Stock of Jimmy Carter: The 'Hands On' Legacy of Our Thirty-ninth President"
Douglas Brinkley, Diplomatic History, Fall 1996
In this scholarly evaluation of Jimmy Carter's work as president, Douglas Brinkley, professor of history at the University of New Orleans, concludes that personal virtue does not equate with the ability to govern effectively.

"Jimmy Carter: President, Peacemaker, Poet"
Mark Marvel, Interview, December 1994
Read Jimmy Carter's own explanations to a young audience of his political life, his response to critics of his work as U.S. president, and of his published poetry.

"The Conciliator"
Jim Wooten, New York Times Magazine, January 29, 1995
This personal profile of former President Carter details his voluntary efforts to be an international peacemaker, particularly in war-torn Bosnia-Herzegovina.

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Links

The Presidents: Jimmy Carter
This is the official White House biography of Carter, with links to information about the First Lady, Rosalynn Smith Carter, and the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library.

New Book of Knowledge: Jimmy Carter
Academic American Encyclopedia: Jimmy Carter
Encyclopedia Americana: Jimmy Carter

These three sites offer varying levels of difficulty and depth in providing biographical data and internal links to their other encyclopedia topics related to Carter.
http://www.gi.grolier.com/presidents/nbk/bios/39pcart.html
http://www.gi.grolier.com/presidents/aae/bios/39pcart.html

The Carter Center
Reflects Jimmy Carter's commitments upon leaving the presidency. At present, the Center operates 13 core programs, which have touched the lives of people in 65 countries, including the United States.

Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT II)
Detailed information on the SALT II agreement.

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Vocabulary

Click on any of the vocabulary words below to hear them pronounced and used in a sentence.

speaker   naive
Definition: Unaffectedly simple.
Context: He tried hard, attempted the right things, was not always successful, kept our country at peace, and maybe was politically naive in many ways.

speaker   landlocked
Definition: Surrounded by land, cut off from the sea.
Context: From the age of five, this landlocked Georgia farm boy dreamed of sailing the seas as a United States naval officer.

speaker   establishment
Definition: An inner circle thought to hold decisive power.
Context: He had campaigned against the Washington establishment; now he would have to work with it to accomplish his long list of goals.

speaker   idealism
Definition: Behavior or thought based on a conception of the world as one thinks it should be.
Context: In 1962, during the idealism of Kennedy's presidency, Carter won a seat in the Senate.

speaker   unprecedented
Definition: Having no parallel; novel.
Context: A year later Kennedy was assassinated, and America entered a decade of unprecedented turmoil.

speaker   prescient
Definition: Containing foresight.
Context: It was then, and still now, one of the more remarkable and I think thoughtful, even prescient speeches that an American president has ever delivered.

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Standards

This lesson plan may be used to address the academic standards listed below. These standards are drawn from Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education: 2nd Edition and have been provided courtesy of the Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning in Aurora, Colorado.
 
Grade level: 9-12
Subject area: civics
Standard:
Understands ideas about civic life, politics, and government.
Benchmarks:
Understands the nature of political authority (e.g., characteristics such as legitimacy, stability, limitations).

Grade level: 9-12
Subject area: civics
Standard:
Understands what is meant by "the public agenda," how it is set, and how it is influenced by public opinion and the media.
Benchmarks:
Understands how political institutions and political parties shape the public agenda.

Grade level: 9-12
Subject area: civics
Standard:
Understands what is meant by "the public agenda," how it is set, and how it is influenced by public opinion and the media.
Benchmarks:
Understands the influence that public opinion has on public policy and the behavior of public officials.

Grade level: 9-12
Subject area: civics
Standard:
Understands how the world is organized politically into nation-states, how nation-states interact with one another, and issues surrounding U.S. foreign policy.
Benchmarks:
Understands the major foreign policy positions that have characterized the United States' relations with the world (e.g., isolated nation, imperial power, and world leader).

Grade level: 9-12
Subject area: civics
Standard:
Understands how the world is organized politically into nation-states, how nation-states interact with one another, and issues surrounding U.S. foreign policy.
Benchmarks:
Knows how the powers over foreign affairs that the Constitution gives to the president, Congress, and the federal judiciary have been used over time; and understands the tension between constitutional provisions and the requirements of foreign policy (e.g., the power of Congress to declare war and the need of the president to make expeditious decisions in times of international emergency, the power of the president to make treaties and the need for the Senate to approve them).

Grade level: 9-12
Subject area: civics
Standard:
Understands the importance of political leadership, public service, and a knowledgeable citizenry in American constitutional democracy.
Benchmarks:
Knows various ways students can exercise leadership in public affairs, and knows opportunities for citizens to engage in careers in public service.

Grade level: 9-12
Subject area: U.S. history
Standard:
Understands developments in foreign and domestic policies between the Nixon and Clinton presidencies.
Benchmarks:
Understands how the Ford and Carter administrations dealt with major domestic issues of the 1970s (e.g., how the Ford and Carter administrations handled the economic situation of the 1970s, how Presidents Ford and Carter addressed the concept of the "imperial presidency" after Watergate and attempted to restore credibility to the presidency, Carter's program for dealing with the energy crisis).

Grade level: 9-12
Subject area: U.S. history
Standard:
Understands developments in foreign and domestic policies between the Nixon and Clinton presidencies.
Benchmarks:
Understands how U.S. foreign policy shaped international relations from the Nixon administration to the Carter years (e.g., Nixon's foreign policy during the Cold War, U.S. goals and objectives in the Middle East).

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Credit

Winona Morrissette-Johnson, a social studies teacher at T. C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia.
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