Election 2016: Looking Back at Debate History

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This week was the first presidential debate; it was schedule 46 years and 1 day after the first televised debate -- the now-famous one between Nixon and Kennedy.


You can download a Debate Scorecard​ to use with your students here if you'd like to give them a rhetoric assignment for the next presidential debate. Or, you can use the Debate Scorecard to look back at time to that first televised debate. Find a video of the debate on YouTube here, and then tell your students to analyze the candidates. Here are 3 ways to use this video with your students:


  1. Split your students into 2 groups. Ask one group to watch the debate with no sound, ask the second to listen to the audio only while they complete their scorecard. Compare their answers and discuss.
  2. Split your students into pairs. Ask one to focus on Nixon, and the other to focus on Kennedy. What are the differences in their scorecard?
  3. Ask your students to watch the debate, and write a quick reflection it; then ask them to read this article from the National Constitution Center on how it changed history. Tell them to continue their reflection after knowing more on the history of the debate.


Did you use the debate scorecard with your students? Let us know how it worked in the comments!