Reagan Presidency Lesson Plans

Ronald Reagan was an iconic and controversial president during the twilight of the Cold War. Over the course of a decade, “The Great Communicator” was pivotal in the fall of the Soviet Union and a powerful force in realigning American politics towards conservative ideas. The impacts of his presidency remain in the news today; Reagan continues to be praised as a conservative hero, but is criticized for the long term impact of his social and economic policies.

Student Activities for Ronald Reagan Presidency

Discussion Questions

  1. What were the major events in Ronald Reagan’s political career?
  2. In what ways can we define Reagan as a conservative, and why do his conservative ideas take such a strong hold in the 1980s?
  3. How did President Reagan change the economy (and implement “Reaganomics”)?
  4. In what ways did Reagan change the position of the presidency? To what degree of success?
  5. How did Reagan handle the Cold War and other foreign policy initiatives?
  6. In what ways did Reaganomics produce success? Cause for concern?
  7. What important social debates happened under Ronald Reagan?
  8. What issues and controversies surrounded Reagan’s presidency? What legacy did Reagan leave with?

The Ronald Reagan Presidency

Ronald Reagan served as President of the United States from 1981-1989. When Reagan ran for office, the U.S. was still in the midst of the Cold War with the Soviet Union, the economy was in recession, and many were looking for a solid leader to navigate the pressing social issues of the time. As a Republican, Reagan held a conservative stance in all of his policies.

In his 1980 presidential campaign, he promised to lower taxes to stimulate the economy, reduce government interference, uphold state’s rights, and, most of all, maintain a strong national defense. All of these fundamental principles aligned with Reagan’s supply side economics and his strong stance against Soviet influence, as well as his War on Drugs, and aims at resolving several civil rights issues. Under Reagan, the 1980s was simultaneously successful and turbulent.

Using the activities in this lesson plan, students will be able to organize, analyze, and explain the various actions Reagan took as president. His implementation of “Reaganomics”, ending of the Cold War, and even controversy surrounding the Iran-Contra Affair are all points of discussion that students can elaborate on. Students will be able to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the context and substance of Ronald Reagan’s presidency.

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