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Social Studies
Grade: Middle

#1292. George Washington in Pennsylvania #1

Social Studies, level: Middle
Posted Wed Sep 8 12:06:37 PDT 1999 by Pennsylvania Cable Network (
Pennsylvania Cable Network
Educational cable television network, Camp Hill, Pennsylvania
Materials Required: Television programs on PCN
Activity Time: Varies
Concepts Taught: American History

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Bradford N. Hammer
September 9, 1999


In recognition of the bicentennial anniversary of George Washington's death, the Pennsylvania Cable Network has created a special television series on the nation's first President and his many activities in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Entitled "George Washington in Pennsylvania," the PCN programs cover three distinct periods in Washington's life: his service in the French and Indian War, actions in the American Revolutionary War, and his years as President of the United States. Beginning September 11, the series will air at 5:30 p.m. every Saturday in September and October, with a replay of all "George Washington in Pennsylvania" installments on Saturday, November 27. PCN will make a final presentation of Washington programming on Tuesday, December 14, the date on which the President succumbed to inflammatory quinsy.

"While it's common to associate George Washington with his Mount Vernon estate in Virginia and the nation's capital, most of his formative years--and a good deal of his presidential term--were spent in Pennsylvania," noted PCN President Brian Lockman. "Our 'George Washington in Pennsylvania' series brings these significant episodes to life, showcasing the events which shaped the man and the nation."

As part of the historical presentation, PCN has developed lesson plans for educators interested in using the television programs in the classroom. Designed by a Pennsylvania high school teacher, the outlined topics and procedures follow each of the three parts of the "George Washington in Pennsylvania" series, and are available on PCN's Web site at, or by contacting the statewide cable service at (717) 730-6000.

"We encourage state educators to use 'George Washington in Pennsylvania' programming in the classroom, both as an historical tool, and in highlighting the commonwealth's significant role in the development of this country," said PCN Senior Vice President Bradford N. Hammer. "Lesson plans on the series are also being shared with the Pennsylvania Department of Education, and are posted on several on-line educational sites."

George Washington and the French and Indian War episodes include walking tours of Fort Necessity National Battlefield near Uniontown, and Fort Ligonier, where Washington was involved in combat. Interview segments with Fort Ligonier Association President Martin West and Slippery Rock University History Department Chairman David Dixson are also planned.

Revolutionary War installments in PCN's "George Washington in Pennsylvania" series feature tours of the Brandywine battlefield, Cliveden (where the Battle of Germantown was fought), Valley Forge National Historical Park, and historic Washington Crossing. A conversation with George Washington reenactor Carl Closs and a discussion with The Surprise of Germantown author Thomas McGuire complete the programming.

PCN programs analyzing George Washington as President include a video visit to Philadelphia's Deshler Morris House, which served as a temporary White House during Washington's presidency. Related installments examine Washington's relationship with Congress during his many years in Pennsylvania, and a walk in the President's footsteps on the streets of Philadelphia. Independence Historical Park Historian Coxey Toogood and William Martin, author of Citizen Washington, offer their views on George Washington in Pennsylvania.

PCN was founded twenty years ago as the first educational cable television network in the nation. The nonprofit service, which reaches 2.4 million homes in the commonwealth, is funded by Pennsylvania cable companies.


LESSON PLAN: George Washington And His Presidency

Recommended Level: Secondary


The student will be able to:

-- Identify major historically significant aspects of George Washington's presidency with particular respect to the political and social characteristics of Washington's Philadelphia lifestyle.

-- Compare and contrast the political and social aspects of George Washington's presidency in Philadelphia with the political and social lifestyles of modern Presidents in Washington, D.C.

Initial Motivation:

Activate prior knowledge:

Before viewing George Washington And His Presidency, conduct a brainstorming activity in the whole class setting to identify adjectives associated with the phrase "The Modern Presidency." List student responses visually.

Set a purpose:

Before viewing George Washington And His Presidency, ask students to pay particular attention to: decisions and precedents made by Washington during his presidency, Washington's social lifestyle in Philadelphia, and the political aspects of Washington's term.

Procedures/Enabling Experiences:

Provide students with an outline of important concepts related to Washington's presidency to key their attention to selected material presented in the video. Invite students to take notes on their outlines to reference for the upcoming activity. The outline should include the following concepts:

I. George Washington's Philadelphia Life

A. Washington's residencies while President in Philadelphia
B. Important people in Washington's Philadelphia life
C. Philadelphia's treatment of President Washington
D. Washington's treatment and contributions to Philadelphia

II. George Washington: The President

A. How Washington came to be the first President
B. Washington's major decisions as President
C. Washington's contributions to the American presidency

After viewing George Washington And His Presidency, discuss the concepts of the outline to review video material and begin group work. Divide students into groups of four or five and provide two sheets of paper to each group. Have students write "similarities" on one paper and "dissimilarities" on the other. On the respective papers, ask each group to generate a list of ways in which Washington's presidency may have been similar to those of modern chief executives and dissimilar to modern presidents.

When complete, have each group share their lists in the whole group setting. During the group exchange, probe students' understanding and ask for specific examples of similarities/dissimilarities where applicable.


George Washington And His Presidency (PCN)

Closure/Culminating Activity:

Ask students to write a one or two paragraph summary analyzing the results of the compare/contrast activity. At this point, students should be able to develop their own generalizations and conclusions about the variance in presidential power and lifestyle between the first presidential administration and modern administrations.


Develop Greater Understanding of Changes in Presidential History:

In collaborative groups or individually (Teacher Option), have students conduct research on the presidency of any chief executive of the late twentieth century (Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush or Clinton). Compare and contrast the social and political lifestyle of a president in late twentieth century Washington, D.C. to that of George Washington's presidency in late eighteenth century Philadelphia. Encourage students to consult historical texts, encyclopedias, video resources and the internet for information. The presentation of students' research should be self directed, allowing for maximum use of modality and creativity. Below are some suggestions for students' projects. Of course, students may choose to devise their own extension project.



Students may choose to use the results of their research to develop posterboard-size visuals comparing the social and political aspects of a late twentieth century presidential administration (Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, or Clinton may provide the greatest contrasts) with that of Washington's. Students who choose this option, may decide to focus on: lifestyles of the president(s), popularity/relationship with the American public, and relationships with foreign nations. Students involved in the posterboard project should present their findings in whole class setting.


Students may choose to assume the role of a presidential aid to both President Washington and a late twentieth century president of their choice. After researching each presidential administration, have students hold a press conference releasing "news" about the administration they represent. Encourage students to employ creativity and humor within appropriate historical context. Have the rest of the class act as members of the press corps and ask questions pertaining to each administration.


Students may elect to imagine they are media reporters covering the administration of George Washington and the administration of a late twentieth century president. Have them compose a mock newspaper article comparing and contrasting the administrations. Encourage students to employ creativity within the appropriate historical context.