1. Review students’ discussion of stakeholder influences from the previous activity.

Introduce students to the web-based interactive You Decide: Presidential Decisions. Divide them into small groups and have groups select and play through the Helsinki Accords scenario to review what they learned in previous activities. Ask students to recall which stakeholders they felt had the most influence and the least influence on Ford’s decision to sign the accords. Ask how the maps and speeches they examined helped them reach their decisions. Explain that in addition to stakeholders’ opinions, presidents also need to consider the consequences their decisions might have on those stakeholders.

2. Have students create a consequences web to show the consequences of President Ford’s decision on various stakeholders.

Divide students into the same small groups they formed in Activity 1 and distribute each group’s copy of the case study they annotated in Activity 1. Have them re-read the case study in its entirety and highlight any consequences to stakeholders that they note. Next, model how to make a consequences web by drawing a square in the middle of the board and writing “Ford signs the Helsinki Accords” in the square. Then draw a circle and connect it to the square with a line. In the circle write “consequence 1.” Explain that students should draw as many circles as they need to list the consequences of Ford’s decision that were described in the case study. Then model how to illustrate additional effects of the decision. Draw a line from one of the circles to a new circle. In the new circle write “additional effect.” Have students work with their groups to draw a consequences web based on what they read in the case study and in the interactive and the cascading consequences they think the decision will create.

3. Use a historical perspective to add to the consequences web.

Explain that since Ford’s decision happened over forty years ago, we can look at it with a historical perspective, which makes it easier to track the cascading effects of his decision. Have students read some of the provided secondary resources with a historical perspective on Ford’s decision and use the resources to refine their consequences web, adding new effects or removing or revising ones they predicted.

4. Have students reflect on the consequences of Ford’s decision.

Have each group place their consequences web on their table or desk. Have students walk around the room and view other groups’ webs. Discuss with the class how the webs are similar and different. Ask:

  • Do you think groups captured all the intended and unintended consequences of Ford’s decision? Why or why not?
  • What effects might have been left out of the case study and/or the secondary sources you read online?
  • Were consequences to all stakeholders represented in those resources? If not, which stakeholders are left out of these accounts? Why do you think this is true?

Ask students to take notes on the discussion and collect their notes and consequences webs to use in the next and final activity in this lesson.

Alternative Assessment

Use students’ consequences webs as a formative assessment of students’ thinking.

Extending the Learning

Have students create a consequences web for an important decision currently being covered by the national or local media.

Subjects & Disciplines

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • identify the consequences of President Ford’s decision to sign the Helsinki Accords
  • determine which consequences were intended and which were unintended

Teaching Approach

  • Learning-for-use

Teaching Methods

  • Cooperative learning
  • Discussions
  • Information organization
  • Modeling
  • Reading
  • Simulations and games

Skills Summary

This activity targets the following skills:

Connections to National Standards, Principles, and Practices

IRA/NCTE Standards for the English Language Arts

  • Standard 1:  Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.

National Council for Social Studies Curriculum Standards

  • Theme 2:  Time, Continuity, and Change

National Geography Standards

  • Standard 13:  How the forces of cooperation and conflict among people influence the division and control of Earth's surface
  • Standard 17:  How to apply geography to interpret the past
  • Standard 4:  The physical and human characteristics of places
  • Standard 5:  That people create regions to interpret Earth's complexity

National Standards for History

Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy

The College, Career & Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards

  • Causation and Argumentation: D2.His.14.9-12:  Analyze multiple and complex causes and effects of events in the past.
  • D2.Civ.13.9-12:  Evaluate public policies in terms of intended and unintended outcomes, and related consequences
  • D2.Civ.14.9-12.:  Analyze historical, contemporary, and emerging means of changing societies, promoting the common good, and protecting rights.
  • D2.Civ.3.9-12:  Analyze the impact of constitutions, laws, treaties, and international agreements on the maintenance of national and international order

What You’ll Need

Materials You Provide

  • Paper
  • Pencils
  • Pens

Required Technology

  • Internet Access: Required
  • Tech Setup: 1 computer per classroom, 1 computer per small group

Physical Space

  • Classroom


Arrange the space so students can work in small groups. 


  • Large-group instruction

Other Notes

In Activity 3, Step 2: Students will need to regroup into their original small groups from Activity 1 of this lesson.

In Activity 3, Step 4: Collect students’ notes and consequences webs for use in the final activity.

Background Information

Prior Knowledge

  • None

Recommended Prior Activities

  • None


unintended consequences

results of an action or situation that are not deliberately brought about and/or anticipated.