Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Farewell Address

by Tim Bailey

Unit Objective

This lesson on President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Farewell Address, January 17, 1961, is part of Gilder Lehrman’s series of Common Core–based units. These units were written to enable students to understand, summarize, and analyze original texts of historical significance. Students will demonstrate this knowledge by writing summaries of selections from the original document and, by the end of the unit, articulating their understanding of the complete document by answering questions in an argumentative writing style to fulfill the Common Core State Standards. Through this step-by-step process, students will acquire the skills to analyze any primary or secondary source material.

While the unit is intended to flow over a three-day period, it is possible to present and complete the material within a shorter time frame. For example, in a high school class or advanced middle school group, the first lesson can be used to ensure an understanding of the process with all of the activity completed in class on day one. The teacher can then assign lesson two as homework. The concluding lesson three would then be completed in class on day two.

Lesson 1

Objective

Students will be asked to “read like a detective” to gain a clear understanding of President Eisenhower’s Farewell Address. Through reading and analyzing the original text, the students will know what is explicitly stated, draw logical inferences, and demonstrate these skills by writing a succinct summary using the author’s words and then restating that summary in the student’s own words. In the first lesson this will be facilitated by the teacher and done as a whole-class lesson.

Introduction

Tell the students that they will be learning about President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Farewell Address, given on January 17, 1961, to a national television audience. The newly elected president, John F. Kennedy, would be taking Eisenhower’s place in a few days. President Eisenhower was the first president restricted from running for a third term by the Twenty-Second Amendment to the Constitution. Resist the temptation to put the speech into too much context. Remember, we are trying to let the students discover the issues that concerned Eisenhower and then let them develop ideas based solely on his words.

Materials

Procedures

  1. All students are given an abridged copy of President Eisenhower’s Farewell Address and are asked to read it silently to themselves.
  2. The teacher then “share reads” the speech with the students. This is done by having the students follow along silently while the teacher begins reading aloud. The teacher models prosody, inflection, and punctuation. The teacher then asks the class to join in with the reading after a few sentences while the teacher continues to read along with the students, still serving as the model for the class. This technique will support struggling readers as well as English Language Learners (ELL).
  3. The teacher explains that the class will be analyzing the first three parts of the document today and that they will be learning how to do in-depth analysis for themselves. All students are given a copy of Summary Organizer #1. This contains the first selection from President Eisenhower’s Address.
  4. The teacher puts a copy of Summary Organizer #1 on display in a format large enough for all of the class to see (an overhead projector, Elmo projector, or similar device). Explain that today the whole class will be going through this process together.
  5. Explain to students that they will select Key Words from this first selection that will be used to create a summary sentence demonstrating understanding of what President Eisenhower was saying in the opening paragraphs of the address.
  6. Selecting the Key Words: Key Words are very important to the meaning of the text. Without them the selection would not make sense. Key words are usually nouns or verbs. They are not “connector” words (are, is, and, so, etc.). The number of key words depends on the length of the original selection. This selection has 119 words, so students can pick up to six Key Words. The other rule is that students can’t pick words they don’t know. So as the class begins selecting words, there will be opportunities to teach students how to use context clues, word analysis, and dictionary skills to discover word meanings.
  7. Students will now select up to six words from the text that they believe are Key Words and write them in the box to the right of the text on their organizer.
  8. The teacher then asks the students for contributions to the class’s Key Words list. Through discussion and negotiation the class, with guidance from the teacher, chooses their list of six words. For example, the class could decide on the following words: America, strongest, productive, leadership, world peace (short combinations of words are allowed if it makes sense to do so; just don’t let whole phrases get by), and liberty. No matter which words the students had previously selected, have the students write the words agreed upon by the class or chosen by you into the Key Word list in their organizer.
  9. The teacher now explains that they will build a sentence using the Key Words to summarize or restate what the President was saying. For example, “America is the strongest and most productive nation and must use its leadership to promote world peace and liberty.” This should be a class negotiation process. You might find that the class decides that they don’t need some of the key words chosen to make the summary even more streamlined. The final negotiated sentence is copied into the organizer.
  10. The final step in this analysis process is for the students to put the summary statement using the author’s words into a new summary sentence using the students’ own words. Again, this is a class negotiation process. For example “America, as the most powerful country, must help make the world a better place.”
  11. Repeat these steps with selections 2 and 3.
    • Selection 2: 115 words (6 key words)
    • Selection 3: 90 words (5 key words)
  12. Wrap up: Review vocabulary that the students found confusing or difficult. If you choose you could have students use the back of their organizer to make a note of these words and their meaning.

Lesson 2

Objective

Students will be asked to “read like a detective” and discover what President Eisenhower was talking about in his Farewell Address by knowing what is explicitly stated, drawing logical inferences, and demonstrating these skills by writing a succinct summary using Eisenhower’s words and then restating that summary in the student’s own words. In the second lesson these selections will be analyzed by small groups. Student understanding will be demonstrated through discussion and completion of a summary organizer.

Introduction

Tell the students that they will be analyzing the next three selections from President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Farewell Address, given on January 17, 1961. First, students will watch the President’s speech or a portion of his speech. Students will then be building on to the selections that they studied yesterday. Remember to let the students develop ideas based solely on President Eisenhower’s own words.

Materials

Procedures

  1. Students should have a copy of the abridged address. Have the students watch some or all of President Eisenhower’s Farewell Address (approx. 15 min). Have them take note of the parts not in their abridged version.
  2. Divide the class into groups of three to five students per group.
  3. Depending on the reading level of the class the teacher can “share read” the next three selections with them or the students can read them in their groups.
  4. The teacher explains that the class will be analyzing the next three parts of the document today as they did with the first three parts yesterday, but today they will be working in small groups. All students are given a copy of Summary Organizer #4. This contains the next selection from President Eisenhower’s address.
  5. Explain that the objective is to again select “Key Words” from the fourth section and then use those words to create a sentence that summarizes or restates what the President was saying in this section of the document.
  6. Selecting the Key Words: The guidelines for selecting Key Words are the same as in lesson 1. This selection has 93 words so they can pick up to five Key Words. The other Key Words rule is that they cannot pick words if they don’t know what they mean. The students within each group must discuss their choices and negotiate to select the final list. 
  7. The teacher now asks each group to build a sentence that restates or summarizes what President Eisenhower was saying in the address. This is done by the group negotiating with its members. During this process try to make sure that everyone is contributing because it is very easy for one student to take control of the entire task and for the other students to let them. Remind the students to use Eisenhower’s key words to build this sentence. All of the students should write their group’s negotiated sentence into their organizer.
  8. Each group will now build a new sentence that restates the summary sentence in the students’ own words. Again make sure that everyone is contributing to this process.
  9. The teacher now asks the groups to share out the summary sentences that they have created. This should start a teacher-led discussion that points out the qualities of the various attempts. How successful were the groups at understanding the main idea of this selection?
  10. Repeat these steps with selections 5 and 6.
    • Selection 5: 120 words (6 key words)
    • Selection 6: 162 words (8–9 key words)
  11. Wrap up: Discuss vocabulary that the students found confusing or difficult. If you choose you could even have students use the back of their organizer to make a note of these words and their meaning.

Lesson 3

Objective

Students will be asked to “read like a detective” and discover what President Eisenhower was talking about in his Farewell Address by knowing what is explicitly stated, drawing logical inferences, and demonstrating these skills by writing a succinct summary using President Eisenhower’s words and then restating that summary in the student’s own words. In the third lesson these selections will be analyzed by individuals or partners. Student understanding will be demonstrated through discussion, completion of summary organizers, and development of a short argumentative essay.

Introduction

Tell the students that they will be analyzing the next three selections from President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Farewell Address. Students will then be able to use their knowledge of all nine parts of the speech in writing an argumentative essay. They will choose one of three prompts in order to write an essay that addresses an issue raised in the President’s speech. Remind the students that they must use evidence directly from the text in building their argument.

Materials

Procedures

  1. This is an individual assignment; however, if there are students that need support in this task, partner them with another student.
  2. Depending on the reading level of the class the teacher can “share read” the next three selections with them or the students can read them to themselves or with their partners.
  3. The teacher explains that the class will be analyzing the last three parts of the Farewell Address today, but today they will be doing it by themselves or with a partner. All students are given a copy of Summary Organizer #7. This contains the next selection from President Eisenhower’s Address.
  4. Explain that the objective is to again select “Key Words” from the seventh section and then use those words to create a summary sentence that demonstrates their understanding of what the President was saying in this section of the document.
  5. Selecting the Key Words: The guidelines for selecting these words are the same as in lesson 1. This selection is 189 words long so the student can pick up to ten Key Words. The other Key Words rule is that they cannot pick words if they don’t know what they mean.
  6. The students will then build a sentence that summarizes or restates what President Eisenhower was saying in the President’s words. After that the student is to summarize what Eisenhower was saying in the student’s own words.
  7. Repeat these steps with selections 8 and 9.
    • Selection 8: 125 words (6 key words)
    • Selection 9: 136 words (7 key words)
  8. Discuss vocabulary that the students found confusing or difficult. If you choose you could have students use the back of their organizer to make a note of these words and their meaning.
  9. The students now write a short essay in response to one of the following prompts. However, if the students lack enough experience in writing, the teacher can do a short lesson on constructing an argumentative essay before having the students address one of the prompts. If this is the case then use the rest of this period instructing the students on how to write an argumentative essay and save the essay writing until the next class period or for homework. In either case remind the students that any arguments they make must be backed up with words taken directly from President Eisenhower’s Farewell Address to the Nation as evidence in order to prove their argument.

Prompts

  1. President Eisenhower identifies a number of serious issues in America’s future. What are these issues and which does he apparently consider the most dangerous?
  2. How does President Eisenhower see the military as both “a vital element” and yet capable of “unwarranted influence”?
  3. President Eisenhower frequently puts forth a sense of keeping key issues in “balance.” How is that perception manifested in this speech?

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Discussion

I only have 12 weeks with students to get from Taft to at least Carter. Can I afford to spend 3 days on Ike's Farewell address?


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