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JFK: the 1960 election and Foreign Policy


Language Arts, Social Studies  


9, 10, 11, 12  

Title – JFK: the 1960 election and Foreign Policy
By – Brandon Danz
Primary Subject – Social Studies
Secondary Subjects – Social Studies, Language Arts
Grade Level – 9-12

Date Written: April 23, 2001
Unit: The Presidency of John F. Kennedy


  1. The student will be able to recall the major international players of world politics circa 1960 – 1963 including but not limited to Fidel Castro, Nikita Khrushchev, and John F. Kennedy.
  2. The student will be able to explain the events surrounding the Invasion of Cuba, the Berlin Crisis, and Cuban Missile Crisis.
  3. The student will be able to relate the election of 1960 to the election of 2000, and note the similarities between them.
  4. The student will be able to examine the controversy over the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Invasion of Cuba, and the Berlin Crisis.
  5. The student will be able to develop a resolution to an international crisis (the Cuban Missile Crisis) given the facts that Kennedy had available to him.
  6. The student will be able to evaluate the effectiveness of Kennedy’s foreign policy agenda and will also be able to both criticize and defend him on foreign policy issues during his Presidency.

Purpose of Lesson: Introduce to students the Presidency of John F. Kennedy and the foreign policy dilemmas that plagued it.

Materials / Resources: Handouts, Overheads, videos, wall maps

Anticipatory Set / Introduction (Advance Organizer):

  1. The “Lincoln – Kennedy Coincidence”. Review with students the strange similarities between the two Presidents.

Body / Procedure:

    1. Hand out “Worksheet 81” (included below)
    2. Explain 1960 Election including:
      1. first Presidential Debates (show debate video)
      2. election day similarities with 2000 election
    3. Review basics of Cold War and Kennedy’s solutions
      1. Policy of “Flexible Response”
      2. increase in defense spending
      3. Peace Corps (show inaugural video)
      4. Alliance for Progress
    4. Explain the Invasion of Cuba (Bay of Pigs Fiasco) (show map of Cuba in relation to the USA)
    5. Explain the Berlin Crisis (show overheads of Germany, Berlin, bomb shelters, Berlin Wall)
    6. Explain Cuban Missile Crisis (show overhead of U2 spy plane pictures)
    7. Review Kennedy’s options: air strike, or remove missiles from Turkey
    8. Review American blockade on Cuba

Group Activity: Groups of 5 or 6. Students are to role-play Kennedy’s advisors and must agree on a solution to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Should America bomb Cuba and start a possible Nuclear War, or should we remove our missiles from Turkey (which would make us look weak) in hopes that Russia removes theirs from Cuba?

Closure / Homework:

  1. Show students how historians treat Kennedy’s foreign policy.
  2. Assignment: Each student must compose a letter to President Kennedy and either defend or criticize him on one of the following areas: Invasion of Cuba, Berlin Crisis, or Cuban Missile Crisis.

Worksheet 81:

  Causes Events Consequences
Bay of Pigs Invasion      
Berlin Crisis      
Invasion of Cuba      

E-Mail Brandon Danz!

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