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James O. Eastland lesson plan

OVERVIEW

Mississippian James O. Eastland was one of the most powerful United States senators of his time. He represented Mississippi for nearly four decades in the U.S. Senate where, as president pro tempore of the Senate, he twice came within a “heartbeat” of the United States presidency. Due to his extraordinary political career in the U.S. Senate, he was elected into the Mississippi Hall of Fame in 1991.

CURRICULAR CONNECTIONS

Mississippi Studies Framework: Competencies 1, 2, 3, and 4

TEACHING LEVELS

Grades 7 (with modifications) through 12

MATERIALS AND EQUIPMENT

  • Mississippi History Now article, James O. Eastland
  • Various reference books and online historical resources
  • Computer access
  • Unlined paper for timeline
  • Notebook paper
  • Pen/pencil

OBJECTIVES

The student will:

  • Construct a timeline about the life of James O. Eastland.
  • Determine the impact of Eastland’s leadership in the U.S. Senate.
  • Evaluate the basis for Eastland’s induction into the Mississippi Hall of Fame.

OPENING THE LESSON

The teacher will ask the class which United States senator from Mississippi came within a “heartbeat” of the United States presidency in 1973 and 1974. The teacher will tell the students that over the next several days they will have a chance to learn about this senator, James. O. Eastland. The teacher may also need to explain to the class the presidential order of succession and Senator Eastland’s place in this order.

DEVELOPING THE LESSON

The teacher will ask the students to read the Mississippi History Now article, “James O. Eastland.” As students read the article, they should make a list of the major events in the life and career of Senator Eastland. From their list, students should place on a timeline what they consider to be the ten most significant events in Eastland’s life and career. Once the students complete the timeline, the teacher will facilitate a class discussion about Eastland. The teacher will ask for student volunteers to share the events they placed on their timelines and to explain why they consider these events to be significant to Eastland’s life and career.

The teacher will ask the students to copy the chart located at the end of the lesson plan. Students should use the Mississippi History Now article as well as other resources to complete the chart. On the chart, students will determine how the positions held by Senator Eastland either created benefits or drawbacks for Mississippi. Once the students complete the charts, the teacher will ask for student volunteers to share information from their charts.

The teacher will remind the students that Senator Eastland was inducted into the Mississippi Hall of Fame in 1991. Based on their recent study of Senator Eastland, students should write a brief essay on their perspective as to why he was selected for this prestigious state distinction.

CLOSING THE LESSON

Once the students have completed their essays, the teacher will ask for student volunteers to share their perspectives.

ASSESSING THE LESSON

• Class participation
• Timelines
• Charts
• Essays

EXTENDING THE LESSON

  • Research the current committees in the United States Senate.
  • Research the current positions held by Mississippi representatives and senators in the U.S. Congress.
  • As stated in the Mississippi History Now article, Medgar Evers and James O. Eastland were both conducted into the Mississippi Hall of Fame in 1991. Upon completion of the James O. Eastland lesson, use the Mississippi History Now lesson plan, Medgar Evers and the Origin of the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi. As students complete both lessons, they can elaborate on why it is considered a “final twist of irony,” as stated by the article’s author, Dr. Chester Morgan, that both of these men were inducted into the Mississippi Hall of Fame in 1991.
  • Invite members of the staff of Mississippi’s U.S. representatives and senators as guest speakers to class.

Directions: Listed on the chart are the positions held by James O. Eastland during his career in the U.S. Senate. Use the Mississippi History Now article and other resources to determine how Mississippi could benefit or experience drawbacks from Eastland’s service in these capacities.

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