American Presidents

Gerald R. Ford American Presidents Teacher Guide

Biographical Vignette on Gerald R. Ford
Nov 22 - 28, 1999 on C-SPAN
Recommended Use:
Secondary Level

Before Viewing American Presidents
Part 1
Introduce students to Gerald R. Ford through the sport of football which was an important part of the president's life. Identify with students some elements of the game.

Students in the class may be able to offer information about the rules, the positions, and skills that are relevant for an individual and a team to be successful at football. Students can search the Internet and other sources for information about the game.

Consider showing a video clip (or newspaper article of a football game), and a video clip of the president in a "game-like" situation such as a press conference or speech to generate students thinking, in drawing parallels.

Part 2
Have students draw some parallels between football and the American government. Encourage students to use the C-SPAN web site to find answers: Congress Page and Executive Branch Page.

  • A quarterback is like ___________________________

  • A coach is like ___________________________

  • A penalty is like ___________________________

  • A field goal is like ___________________________

  • A touchdown is like ___________________________

  • The goalpost is like ___________________________

  • Offense and defense are like ___________________________

  • Special teams are like ___________________________

  • The Superbowl is like ___________________________

  • Referees are like ___________________________

  • The end zone is like ___________________________

What document would be the "rule book" for the U.S. government? Identify with students the ways in which the U.S. Constitution provided the rules for the life of Gerald R. Ford. Have students consider his career in the House of Representatives, his appointment as vice president, ascendancy to the presidency, and his presidency.

Have students make some predictions: How might his career in football have prepared him for his life in public service? What other "rules" governed Gerald R. Ford's life?

Fill out the right-hand side of the chart below with various "rules" that governed Gerald R. Ford's life. Students should consider rules from football, real and metaphorical, the Constitution, and other sources. Examples may include: from the U.S. Constitution: the 25th amendment and "…he shall have the Power to grant…Pardons;" and from football: pass interference, offsides.

While Viewing American Presidents
Directions: Take notes on the program, with details from Gerald R. Ford's life that illustrate the "rules" you listed on the left.

Rule Example from Gerald R. Ford's life

After Viewing American Presidents
Discuss with students: In what ways did Gerald R. Ford's career in football prepare him for the presidency? What other skills are required for the job of president? What was unique about Gerald R. Ford's presidency?

Have students pick one rule, either from the Constitution, or from football, and create a multimedia project that "teaches" the rule with an example from Gerald R. Ford's life. If possible, the project should demonstrate the ways the football terms and rules overlap with the U.S. Constitution.

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