Miller Center

Piecing It Together: Making Connections with Key Events, 1964-1968

Linda I. Francis, Princess Anne High School (Virginia Beach, VA)
Leon Proffitt, Princess Anne High School (Virginia Beach, VA)
Bruce Rowan, Kellam High School (Virginia Beach, VA)
Michelle Sturgis, Princess Anne High School (Virginia Beach, VA)
Amy Tomasulo, Corporate Landing Middle School (Virginia Beach, VA)

Edited by John Sturtz, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

Download Outline | Download PPT 

General Topic

Johnson’s Administration: 1964-1968

Specific Topics

Civil Rights, Vietnam, and the Great Society


  • work cooperatively to analyze, interrupt, categorize, and evaluate documents from 1964-1968
  • formulate a focal question which incorporates the key aspects of each primary source/document
  • apply historical knowledge of Johnson’s administration issues (1964-1968) to justify United States’ policies both foreign and domestic in response to a Free Response Question (FRQ)

Virginia Standards of Learning

VUS.1 The student will demonstrate skills for historical and geographical analysis, including the ability to:

  • a) identify, analyze, and interpret primary and secondary source documents, records, and data, including artifacts, diaries, letters, photographs, journals, newspapers, historical accounts, and art to increase understanding of events and life in the United States;
  • c) formulate historical questions and defend findings based on inquiry and interpretation;
  • d) develop perspectives of time and place, including the construction of maps and various time lines of events, periods, and personalities in American history;
  • e) communicate findings orally and in analytical essays and/or comprehensive papers;
  • f) develop skills in discussion, debate, and persuasive writing with respect to enduring issues and determine how divergent viewpoints have been addressed and reconciled;
  • h) interpret the significance of excerpts from famous speeches and other documents

The United States since World War II

VUS.12 The student will demonstrate knowledge of United States foreign policy since World War II by

  • a) explaining the origins of the Cold War, and describing the Truman Doctrine and the policy of containment of communism, the American role in wars in Korea and Vietnam, and the role of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Europe;
  • b) explaining the role of America’s military and veterans in defending freedom during the Cold War;

VUS.13 The student will demonstrate knowledge of the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s by

  • a) describing the importance of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the 1963 March on Washington, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

VUS.14 The student will demonstrate knowledge of economic, social, cultural, and political developments in the contemporary United States by

  • a) explaining the media influence on contemporary American culture and how scientific and technological advances affect the workplace, health care, and education.

Historical Context

Three major issues dominated President Lyndon Johnson’s Administration from 1964–1968: the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, and the War on Poverty. Yet, we typically teach these as three separate and disparate topics. This lesson serves as a culminating activity OR alternative assessment that examines a series of artifacts to tie these three issues together after initial instruction on all facets. The lesson will assist the students in realizing the overlapping nature of domestic and foreign policies in association with the correlation and the complexity of those events. Students will demonstrate their historical understanding and skills of analysis, interpretation, and prediction to create a historical overview question which acts as a “Think Piece” to foster group discussions/debates.

Teacher Student Activity

Anticipatory Set

Using placards with the letters in Johnson’s name (the number will vary depending on the number of students in the class). J (4)-O (3) –H (4) –N (3) –S (4) –O (3) –N (3) Distribute the placards randomly as the students enter the room. They will use the letter to spell out the name Johnson. Each group (J’s, O1s, H, etc.) will work cooperatively to create a phrase starting with their letter to make an acrostic poem on LBJ. Students will work with these groups for the class activity.


Students will work in groups of 3-4 to analyze, interpret, and predict a specific primary source/artifact. Groups will use corresponding NARA analysis sheets to record their findings. They will also make predictions how their item fits within the time period/Johnson’s administration.

Groups will describe their item, findings, and predictions to students. The class will categorize the other groups’ items accordingly on their artifacts graphic organizer.

After presentations, the students will reconvene with partners to chronologically organize the artifacts on a time spectrum worksheet. After they have ordered the items, the groups will reevaluate the primary sources to create a historical focus question which incorporates the sources to spark a discussion on the major issues of the Johnson Administration. (Questions will be posted and discussed.)

The teacher will evaluate group questions and select the one that best addresses all aspects of the artifacts and issues being reviewed. (Criteria parallels predetermined FRQ)

The teacher will address the Free Response Question for today’s lesson. Students will use knowledge and interpretations from period lessons to answer the FRQ in established essay format.

Concluding Activity

Using discussion cubes, students will create Who? When? Where? Why? questions based on today’s review lesson.


  • Informal – Student participation
  • Formal – FRQ essay