American Presidents

Jimmy Carter American Presidents Teacher Guide

Biographical Vignette on Jimmy Carter
Nov 29 - Dec. 5, 1999 on C-SPAN
Recommended Use:
Secondary Level

Before Viewing American Presidents
Tell students that they are going to learn about the personal and political life of President Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States. Students will study the life of President Carter to learn how he progressed from his life as a farmer in a small town in Georgia to president in the White House. Students may conduct some initial research on President Carter using the Internet or other sources.

While Viewing American Presidents
Directions: Take notes on each event using information presented during the program. Then, number the events according to the order in which they took place.

Jimmy Carter Life Portrait Timeline

_____ Attends the United States Naval Academy:

_____ Marries Rosalynn Smith:

_____ Graduates from Plains High School:

_____ Builds Houses for Habitat for Humanity:

_____ Serves on library and hospital Boards, as well as serving as chairman of the county school board:

_____ Signs the Panama Canal Treaty:

_____ American hostages seized at U.S. Embassy in Iran:

_____ Elected 39th President of the United States:

_____ Director of the Carter Center:

_____ Hosts Camp David Accords:

_____ Creates the Department of Energy:

_____ Signs SALT II Treaty with the Soviet Union to limit nuclear proliferation:

_____ Born James Earl Carter, Jr. in Plains, Georgia:

_____ Served as Georgia State Senator:

_____ Runs for reelection and loses to Ronald Reagan:

After Viewing American Presidents
Separate students into groups of four. On poster board, chronologically map the events of President Carter's life, being sure to include key facts about each event. Illustrate the events.

As a class, use your timelines to explore and discuss President Carter's progression from a small town farmer to a national figure. How did his early experiences lead to his election as president? Do you think those same experiences helped him as president? Why or why not?

Individually or in groups, complete a final project establishing a link between the values, skills, and/or people Jimmy Carter carried with him throughout his life, and the role each played. Choose two events in President Carter's life: one event from early in his life, prior to his term as president, and one event from later in his life, during or after the presidency. Discuss which of Jimmy Carter's skills, values, or people in his life helped him in both situations.

Additional Activities
1. Discuss the public's opinion of President Carter prior to the election, while he was in office, and today. Has it changed over time? How does Jimmy Carter's life offer lessons for how a president can be an effective public servant after his presidency? Discuss your findings in a short essay and present your outline to the class.

2. President Jimmy Carter once said, "The greatest legacy we can leave our children is a world of peace. Peace is My passion." Respond to the quote with one of the following two essay topics.

  • Write a short essay responding to this statement based on what you have learned from the video. Do you think this statement encompasses the events in President Carter's life and presidency? How has he promoted peace in his life? Be sure to discuss periods prior to, during, and after his term as president.

  • During his presidency, Jimmy Carter helped to broker a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, signed the SALT II treaty with the Soviet Union, and formally established diplomatic relations with China. Write a short essay on how the above statement exemplifies President Carter's foreign policy.

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