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By Eleanorgreen29
On July 5, 2019

Lesson Plan: Presidents and the Media

Gettysburg Address Background Information

Gettysburg Address Background Information


In this lesson, students will assess how presidents have used different media to communicate with the American people. First, students will brainstorm what makes someone an effective communicator with a variety of media. Students will then predict what and how five different presidents should communicate in a given context. Students will then read, listen, or watch the accompanying clips and evaluate the president’s messaging. To conclude, students will look at the next generation of elected officials to see how they are using social media to spread their message. This lesson plan is best suited for students who have completed or are near the end of a US History course.


  • Introduction

    Have students brainstorm, either on the board or with Handout: Presidents and the Media, what characteristics make a person successful or unsuccessful at using different media.

    Ask students to focus on personality traits rather than skills (“educated” instead of “good speller”).

    The 5 types of media are:

    • print
    • radio
    • television
    • mass media/pop culture
    • social media/Twitter.
  • Activity

    Instruct students to open Handout: Presidents and the Media and watch the following:

    Video Clip 1: Gettysburg Address Background Information (2:24 - About Print Media).

    Have students Think-Pair-Share to predict what and how President Lincoln should say to best communicate in this moment.

    What characteristics and messaging should he demonstrate? Although the speech is given aloud, most Americans read the speech in print.

    Remind students of the characteristics they mentioned that would make someone an effective communicator with the written word.

  • Click on this link to read the Gettysburg Address.

    The Address can be read as a class, in pairs, or individually. As students read, they should take note of the characteristics Lincoln demonstrates.

    After reading, students should discuss with a partner:

    • Is the president successful with his message? Why or why not?
  • For the following rows, briefly review with students the events on the chart or ask them to research, if time permits.

    For each, students should predict what the president will say, and how he should say it, to best use his chosen medium before watching the clip.

    It is recommended that students do this activity in pairs to facilitate discussion.

  • Conclusion

    Instruct students to watch the final two clips, which are some of highest viewed in C-SPAN’s social media history.

    Similar to the previous activity, students will take notes during the video of how the speaker communicates and what strategies she uses. After watching, students will consider if they believe she is successful with her communication and why.

    After viewing the range of possible uses of media to share a message, have students consider the following question. Students should try to use examples from the lesson to support their answer:

    • How can we better use modern technology to effectively communicate in a positive way?

Additional Resources

  • Lesson Plan: How Members of Congress use Social Media

    This lesson explores the ways that Congress members communicate with younger constituents and has students research and evaluate individual members of Congress and their Twitter accounts.

  • Lesson Plan: The Televised Presidency

    In this lesson, students will identify key moments in presidential television history, and assess which have had the greatest impact. Students will also make predictions as to how emerging and future media developments could evolve the presidency further.


  • Characteristics
  • Communication
  • Media
  • Messaging
  • President
  • Social Media


Executive BranchMediaU.S. History


Middle SchoolHigh SchoolUniversity