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The Turbulent 60s: Youth Counterculture and Activism

Time Frame

6 class periods of 70 minutes each

Group Size

Large Groups

Life Skills

  • Thinking & Reasoning
  • Communication
  • Social & Civic Responsibility




This unit focuses on the student free speech movements and anti-war demonstrations of the 1960s linking them to the civil rights movements for minority and women's rights in the 1950s and 1970s. The unit uses the life of political activist Tom Hayden as its connecting device.

Essential Questions:
1. What problems from the 1950s did the youth movements of the 60s try to solve?
2. What legacy did the youth movements of the 60s leave modern America?




Day 1:

    ~PowerPoint presentation Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 to first blank page
    ~handout "California Senate Gives Hayden Tearful Send Off"
    ~handout of Hayden speech after winning his first primary
    ~handout of Port Huron Statement
Day 2:
    ~lecture on student campus movements
    ~video clip from "Berkeley in the Sixties" (or any video about the 60s that shows student demonstrations on campuses)
    ~handout "Jerry Casale's Account of Kent State"
    ~PowerPoint presentation from blank on Day 1 through Hayden's student involvement, ending with 2nd blank
Day 3:
    ~Hayden PowerPoint Civil Rights section
    ~20 to 30 minute lecture on the events of the Civil Rights Movement
    ~recording of Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech
    ~handout of Kerner Commission Report on the Violence of 1967
Day 4:
    ~Hayden PowerPoint section on Women's Rights
      -letters from Abigail to John Adams
      -14th Amendment
      -Equal Rights Amendment
      -Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments
      -Declaration of Independence
      -Feminine Mystique sheet
      -NOW 1966 Statement of Purpose
      -Gloria Steinem article
Day 5:
    ~lyrics to songs from the 60s
      -"Climb Every Mountain"
      -"Masters of War"
      -"The Times They Are A-Changin'"
      -"White Rabbit"
      -"Sounds of Silence"
      -"For What It's Worth"
      -"Let's Live For Today"
      -"Find the Cost of Freedom"
      -"Four Dead In Ohio"
      -"Peace Train"
    ~music recordings from the 60s to use as background
    ~recording of Jimmy Hendrix performing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Woodstock OR a video clip from the "Woodstock" documentary released on video in 2002 by Warner (available at Borders or
Day 6:
    ~last segment of Hayden PowerPoint

Background for Teachers

1. Knowledge of free speech movements at Berkeley and other college campuses through the Kent State and Jackson State demonstrations in the 70s
2. Knowledge of Civil Rights Movements (black, women)
3.Historical events leading up to the Women's Liberation Movement
4. Knowledge of anti-war movement, events of 1968, the long, hot summer of '68, and the Democratic National Convention in Chicago
5. Familiarity with timeline of Tom Hayden's life as an activist.

Student Prior Knowledge

1. Textbook information about the 1950s, Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam and Anti-War Demonstrations, and the Counterculture Youth movements of the 1960s
2. Working definitions for the following words:

    free speech movement
    hippies/flower children
    Student for Democratic Society
    Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee
    Long Hot Summer
    Black Panthers

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will:

    1. Be able to list problems left unsolved by the 1950s
    2. Recognize the youth movements of the 1960s and their importance, evaluating the success achieved toward reaching movement goals
    3. Be able to define the key terms
    4. Identify key participants in the movements
    5. Analyze and evaluate the movements to determine the legacy they left to modern America.

    Instructional Procedures

    Day 1: Introduction

      1.Show PowerPoint Presentation
        Part I of the PowerPoint presentation to discuss the problems remaining from the 1950s.
        Part II to discuss students and 1960 as a turning point
        Part III to introduce Tom Hayden as the catalyst for all discussions
      2.Hand out copies of Hayden's primary victory speech and discuss the values it describes. Determine what kind of person would possess these values
      3.Hand out the article about California Senate Send Off. Read and discuss it.
      4. Discuss question "Are activism and middle-class values compatible?"
      5. Hand out copies of the Port Huron Statement to be read by next class. Students to seek answer to the following questions as they read:

        a. What problems did Hayden see in America in 1962?
        b. What solutions did he offer?
        c. What outcomes did he predict?
    Day 2: Student Movements on Campus
      1. Present PowerPoint segment on Hayden's involvement with student movements
      2. Show video clip from "Berkeley in the Sixties"
      3. Lecture on other student movements, their goals, their grievances--Berkeley, Harvard, etc. to Kent State and Jackson State in the early 70s.
      4. Hand out Jerry Casale's Account of Kent State and discuss its significance.
    Day 3: Civil Rights Movement
      1. Use PowerPoint segment to link Hayden and his involvement
      2. 25-30 min. lecture on events of the Civil Rights Movement--(at King's Washington March, play recording of "I Have a Dream" speech)
      3. Ask students "Did the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 solve the issues that haunted the lives of African-Americans?" and discuss.
      4. Hand out an read the Kerner Commission Report on Civil Unrest
      5. Ask students the question in #3 again. Then ask, "Are these issues solved now?"
      6. If time permits, show video clip from "The Two Towns of Jasper".

    Day 4: The Women's Movement
      1. Use PowerPoint to Link Hayden to the movement.
      2. Hand out Abigail's Letters to John. Read them and discuss their significance.
      3. Divide students into pairs--one with a copy of the Declaration of Independence, the other with a copy of the Declaration of Sentiments. They should read their articles and then discuss the following questions:

        -Who is the author?
        -When was it written?
        -Why were the author and time significant?
        -What do you know about the authors?
        -Who do they say are the oppressors?
        -What proof do they offer?
        -Why does one document mimic the other?
        -What is the significance of the Declaration of Sentiments?
      4. Read and discuss the provisions of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.
        -Why did women feel an Equal Rights Amendment was needed when they had the 14th Amendment?
        -What would/should an Equal Rights Amendment say?
        -Would there be opposition to an Equal Rights Amendment? Why?
      5. Hand out the Feminine Mystique sheet and use it to discuss women of the 1950s.
      6. Hand out and read NOWs 1966 Statement of Purpose.
        -What is NOW?
        -Why was NOW formed?
        -Who can belong to NOW?
        -What did/does NOW hope to accomplish?
        -How did/do they plan to accomplish their goals?
      7. Divide the class into gender-specific groups (all boys and all girls). Have students read the Steinem article. Within their groups, have students make a list of pros and cons of Women's Liberation for their gender. Discuss the answers as a class.
      8. In 1982 after 10 years of debate, the Equal Rights Amendment had been approved by 35 states--3 short of the 38 needed for ratification. Write a journal entry speculating about differences it might have made in your life today had it passed.
    Day 5: Counterculture and Anti-War Movements
      1. Use either a picture display of "hippy" signs, tie dyed clothing, love buses, etc. OR a PowerPoint slide show of images of hippies, Haight-Ashbury, Woodstock, etc. accompanied by 1960s music selections (about 10 minutes worth)
      2. Divide students into groups of 4 or 5 students, giving each group a "shuffled" packet of the 10 song lyrics provided in the attachment.
      3. The task of each group is to look for clues in the lyrics (using everything they have read and learned so far)so that they can place the songs in the order in which they were recorded. (Don't worry! There is an answer key attached, too)
      4. After sufficient time, begin with one group and put their list on the board.
      5. Go to the next group--Do they want to make any changes in the order? Why?.
      6. Continue through the rest of the groups.(At this point you probably want to give them the correct answers if they are wrong.)
      7. End with Jimi Hendrix's rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" from Woodstock OR if you have access to the documentary of "Woodstock", show the clip of Hendrix singing.
      8. Show PowerPoint segment that links Hayden to the Anti-War Movement.
      9.For homework, have students find the lyrics to a song from today that they think exemplifies this generation. In a 1-page (or shorter depending upon your students) have students analyze the lyrics explaining why they selected this song and how the words depict this generation.
    Day 6: Hayden Post-60s and the Legacy
      1. Show PowerPoint segment, Hayden to the Present
      2. Students should write a 35-minute timed AP essay discussing the legacy to modern America left by the activism and youth movements of the 1960s. They should use examples from readaing and the last 5 days as proof for their views and statements.
      3. Show last PowerPoint segment about what Hayden sees as the legacy of the 60s.


      Berkin, et. at, Carol. Making America. 4th ed.:Houghton Mifflin Co.,2006.
      Boyer, et. at, Paul S. Enduring Visions. 2nd ed. : Heath and Co., 1995.
      Dow, Whitney, and Marco Williams."Two Towns of Jasper." Public Broadcasting Service, . . Video. 2003.
      Hayden, Tom. Reunion: A Memoir. 1st ed. New York: Random House, 1988.
      Kitchell, Mark."Berkeley in the Sixties." California Newsreel, San Francisco, California. . Video. 1990.
      Lorence, James J. Enduring Voices, vol. I. 3rd ed. Lexington: D. C. Heath, 1996.
      "Woodstock." Warner Productions,Los Angeles, California. 26 March 1970. Video Release 5 Feb 2002.

      music downloads from

Created: 06/28/2005
Updated: 02/05/2018