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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

#Stuvoice: Hoover: Top 10 Worst President?

I don't know about you, but I don't often hear two 17 year olds arguing about President Hoover in terms of both his place in history and the parallels with the Obama Administration.   This is exactly what happened in my class today.  Let me frame it for you.

I hadn't been enthralled with the way that I was teaching US History.  Yes, the kids were compliant.  Yes, they would discuss in class. Yes, they were doing well on the formative and summative assessments.  Yes, they said they liked the class.  But my heart just wasn't in it.  I don't think I let it show in class, but I wasn't sure for how long I could keep up the charade.

I recently went to an Inquiry Based Design session with @MrsOlbrys at Windsor High School.  It was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulder and the sun was once again shining.  I knew that this is what I had been seeking as an alternative to what I had been doing in US History.

For those of you that know me, you know that I jump into things with both feet when I see something that will not only transform the way that my students learn but will afford them student voice opportunities.  This is the task that I gave the kids: and to put it in a nutshell, they had to evaluate information regarding President Hoover and formulate an historically based argument to support or refute Hoover's inclusion in the Top 10 Worst President's List.

The first thing they did (and I did this on purpose) was watch a very short video about the Bonus Army and decide if they were Hoover's adviser, should they pay the veteran's at that point or wait until the predetermined date.  Going in, because of the Bonus Army video, most of the kids believed he belonged on the top 10 worst president list, but then these were the conversations I heard over the past two days:

1. "I have so much more evidence to get him off the list than keep him on.  Crazy! I would never have guessed that two days ago."

2. "There is no way you should be blaming Hoover for the Stock Market Crash.  All of the things that led up to the Stock Market Crash happened before he took office.  Wait... is that the same as how a lot of people blame Obama for the Great Recession?  You can't blame him for the crash, but he clearly didn't make the situation better.  Obama made the situation better.  Look at the difference in the unemployment numbers for the 4 years of Hoover and the one I found for Obama." (Notice that he took the initiative to look up unemployment numbers for the first four years of the Obama Administration).

3. "I don't really know much about several of these Presidents.  Does he really deserve to be on a list with those Presidents?"

4. "I think that what is really swaying me right now is that he sent food to the troops in Europe.  I can't believe that they wouldn't feed the soldiers enough, that is just common sense! But I guess, that was really thinking outside the box back then.  Imagine how different the war would have been if he hadn't done that?"

This is only a very small snippet of what they were talking about and it is only day two.  I can tell you 100% that these were not discussions or questions or thoughts that were happening in my class when I was driving the learning up in front of the class.

In keeping with the end in mind, here is what we are doing next. The work that they are doing this week and next will become the documents from which they write their DBQ on the last page of the above link.  I would love to hear your thoughts on both Inquiry Based Design and the two tasks I have included.

Thank you.


  1. I think Hoover takes the cake. However Taft, Harding, Grant and Andrew Johnson deserve mention. It will be interesting to see how George W. Bush fares in 50 years or so. He was the poster child of incompetence.

  2. Student voice! Deep student thinking! Rationalizing what they believe to be true! Having doubts! Rediscovering 'truth'! This is authentic learning at its best! Absolutely love your two tasks...students driving the learning! Congratulations to you and your students!

  3. Thank you! I am so excited to continue with IBL in US and then introduce it into Economics.

  4. Many of my favorite moments have come from listening in on student conversations as they discuss a topic or work through a challenge. Not only is it a good indicator of their understanding, but I love hearing them use the vocab as a natural part of their conversation instead of just regurgitating a definition. Kudos on getting them truly engaged in their learning!

  5. Replies
    1. Thank you! I look forward to working with you in the future.

    2. Thank you! I look forward to working with you in the future.

  6. The Bottom Five, 1 being the worst...
    5. Franklin Pierce
    4. Herbert Hoover
    3. Richard Nixon
    2. James Buchanan
    1. Andrew Johnson

    ...Reasoning? Presidents are the leaders of the free world. They represent the national & international interest of the country they serve. We, the citizens, judge the adequacy to which they do their job, but we actually judge and debate how they "reacted/responded" to events. No one really ever looks at John Adams' XYZ Affair as a horrific way to respond to international blunder, because it was not such a large crisis that affected many Americans. The Bottom Three had to deal with the following: Nixon: Admitting their failure and wrongdoing to the nation and the world, Buchanan: Failure to respond to the impending Civil War when the states seceded from the Union, Johnson: Could not in any way stitch the nation back together the way Lincoln might have...

    Hoover faced the worst economic crisis in the WORLD since the Panic of 1893. Hoover faced the worst economic crisis and he failed to admit the government needed to be more heavily involved. He was blamed for his non-response and his naive thinking that the economy would fix itself, when it needed some sort of executive action. What that action should have been, we don't know, but it needed something...The wealthy California administrator and engineer really had no way to relate to the close to 33% unemployed living on the streets...

    Buchanan: He let the nation fall apart. The president's job is the preserve the Union in the best way possible. Buchanan let nine southern states leave the Union and failed to address slavery as an executive issue when he let the Supreme Court infamously rule on Dred Scott. Buchanan said to Lincoln at his inauguration "If you (Lincoln) are as happy entering the office as much as I am leaving it, then you are a very happy man"...

    Johnson: Don't get me started... :)

    Hope this was useful and relevant!