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Lesson Plans

The Legacy of President John F. Kennedy - 50 Years Later

November 15, 2013

Full Lesson


This November 22 will mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  Although his young life was tragically cut short, he left behind a legacy of excellence that would lead a country to the moon, unite a nation over the fight for racial equality, set a new course for the U.S. on the path of international diplomacy and radically alter the way that young Americans saw themselves and what they could accomplish. His spirit lives on today through his words and actions that continue to inspire people from all over the world.

This educator resource guide celebrates the legacy of President John F. Kennedy through nine quality resources designed for middle and high school classrooms.

1. Resource | Presidential John F. Kennedy Library and Museum


The Presidential John F. Kennedy Library and Museum houses lesson plans, video, interactive media, photographs, primary documents and more from JFK’s presidency. An invaluable tool for revisiting the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination and a rich resource for both Middle and High School students to learn about our 35th President.

2. Resource | JFK Media Gallery

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Looking for JFK photographs, videos and audio recordings? John F. Kennedy’s presidency was one of the most photographed in history, visit the JFK multimedia library with images from both Kennedy’s personal and professional life. Use this rich resource to bring the Kennedy years to life for your students.

3. Interactive Resource and Lesson Plan | We Choose the Moon


Take a ride on this interactive simulation of the 1969 flight to the moon and experience Kennedy’s legacy he left to the world with his pioneering space efforts. This lesson plan designed for Middle School takes students through President Kennedy’s decision to go to the moon and the debate over federally-funded space exploration.

4. Interactive Timeline and Video| The Struggle for Civil Rights


Use this interactive timeline to relive key moments of the Civil Rights Movement through audio, video and primary document resources. President Kennedy called Americans to address civil rights calling it a “moral” issue.  His civil rights legacy would live on after he was assassinated and would change the nation.

5. Lesson Plan | The Cuban Missile Crisis: How to Respond?


During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy’s advisors discussed many options regarding how they might respond to the installation of Soviet missiles in Cuba. In this lesson plan, students consider some of the options discussed, what groups and which individuals supported each option, and the respective pros and cons of the alternatives.

6. Audio Resource | 


John F. Kennedy was a powerful orator and this exciting multimedia tool captures Kennedy’s greatest speeches and quotes. Browse through this archive by topic to connect to inspiring topics from the role of public service, science and innovation, civil rights, domestic and foreign policy, the environment, the arts and diplomacy.

7. Article | Five Myths About Jackie Kennedy


Jacqueline Kennedy was one of the most popular first ladies ever with the American public as well as the international crowd.  A life-long patron of the arts, she transformed the culture of Washington through her support of music, art, theater and renovation of the White House.  This Washington Post article that sorts out the myths from facts.

8. Timeline | The Most Important Events of the Kennedy Presidency

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Follow the life of John F. Kennedy from his election campaign to his assassination and its aftermath in this interactive timeline. Although his time in office was brief, it was rich with events that would change the course of history for a nation. He held the nation together during the Cuban Missile Crisis, challenged them to get to the moon and to become leaders and change-makers both in their own country and abroad.

9.Video Resource | Everything changed: JFK’s life and death


In this interactive media platform, choose to watch interviews from Tom Brokaw as he asks American luminaries about the iconic presidency that reshaped a nation. Follow the stories through Life and Legacy, The Assassination, Kennedy Mystique, The Era, Conspiracy Theories and the Impact.