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A Presidential Doughface

As a writing exercise I often place pictures of important or famous people up on the screen in my room and ask students to provide a caption or write something about the picture. After a few minutes students share their ideas and then I share one of mine which leads into a quick lesson in history. Sometimes this type of activity can be used to review a topic, introduce something new, or simply move a unit along with additional content.

The last time I presented students with this image they came up with some interesting responses:

*My belly hurts. I should have left that last taco in the bag and thrown it away.

*When are they going to invent a real tie that doesn’t look like a bow?

*This man is important. He looks really smart. Maybe he’s a writer or a great thinker. I wish the picture was in color.

*The picture looks like it is from a long time ago. I didn’t know they had hair gel back then. Interesting!

These are the better ones, of course. I left out the silly, off the mark, or inappropriate ones that can be the result of this type of exercise, but you can see that some students can really get into the moment when analyzing photographs.

Next we discussed names and labels…words we use to identify individuals or groups of people. We talked about how those names aren’t always meant to be nice. We also talked about how some names stick simply because it’s easier to remember a group of people by a certain name in order to remember what they stood for….groups like tree huggers, Bible thumpers, and even educrats.

These types of monikers are not simply for the 20th and 21st century. Certain groups throughout history have claimed remembrance through their name such as the Know- Nothings, muckrakers, and don’t forget the hawks and doves.

Do you know who the gentleman is in my image?

It is President Franklin Pierce, our fourteenth president and the tidbit of knowledge I share with students is Franklin Pierce was a doughface.

What’s a doughface?

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