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C-SPAN: Letters from the Presidents

Example Web Site and/or Technical Equipment Required

Website: http://www.americanpresidents.org/

Website Example: http://www.americanpresidents.org/classroom/gen13.asp

Tech Product Equipment

Computer(s), Internet access, projector

Activity Description

In this activity, students learn about the character, personality, and historical legacy of a president through his letters and write about what they learned.This site also has teacher guides for all 41 programs from C-SPAN’s television series, American Presidents: Life Portraits. There are also numerous video resources to enhance classroom instruction on the presidents.

Preparation

  1. Make sure that the site is not blocked at your school and that the documents can be viewed.
  2. View a letter about a president by selecting a president in the Pick a President dropdown menu at the top of the page. You will find the link to the letter under the president’s picture.
  3. Prepare a worksheet addressing Part One: Components of a Letter questions and Part Two: What the Letters Reveal questions. You might want to include possible writing prompts on the worksheet.
  4. Prepare a link on your computers, or class Web site so students can easily access the site.

How-To

  1. Ask your students to explore C-SPAN's American Presidents web site  and become familiar with the presidents.
  2. Tell them to pick a president that interests them and read his letter. A link is posted on the president's page under his picture.
  3. Give students the worksheet and have them answer as many of the questions in Part One: Components of a Letter and Part Two: What the Letter Reveals as they can.
  4. Conclude the lesson with a writing assignment addressing one of the writing prompts.
  5. Have students share what they learned about the presidents.

More Ways

Write a response to this letter as if you were the person to whom it is addressed. Remember to consider your relationship to the president and the time period during which this letter was written.

Select subjects and subcategories

Social Studies

  • American Government
  • U.S. History
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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN200091-A2 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.