1. Activate students' prior knowledge about presidential decision-making.

As an entry ticket, have students write and turn in a brief description of a recent presidential decision. Invite volunteers to share their descriptions, and then discuss who the decisions affect and what the president might have to consider when making these decisions. Guide the conversation by asking: How do these decisions affect you? Who else might they affect? What do you think the president had to think about when he was making these decisions? Who do you think he might have turned to for information he needed to make these decisions? Explain to students that they will have a chance to take on the role of advisor to President Gerald R. Ford in drafting legislation to prevent another energy crisis such as the one the U.S. experienced in 1973. Their goal will be to become informed about different facets of the topic and advise President Ford about which measure he should push most strongly when Congress negotiates the final bill.

2. Have students read, annotate, and discuss the Energy Crisis Briefing.

Distribute a copy of the Energy Crisis Briefing handout and the Energy Crisis Briefing Discussion Prompts worksheet to each student. Have students read and annotate the briefing by highlighting key points, marking any unfamiliar vocabulary, asking any questions of the material, and briefly summarizing the content. Ask students to jot down their thoughts about the discussion prompts as they read. When students have finished reading, discuss the reading using the prompts from the worksheet. Allow time for students to ask questions they have about the reading.

3. Have students identify stakeholders in the U.S. energy system in 1975.

Place students into small groups and distribute the Stakeholder Table worksheet to each group. Have groups brainstorm some stakeholders who would be affected by any changes in U.S. energy policy in 1975. Encourage them to think about both domestic and foreign interests that would be affected. Then have groups share their ideas with the class and create a master list of stakeholders. This list might include middle-class Americans, impoverished Americans, Congress, OPEC countries, U.S. oil companies, and people living near U.S. oil supplies. Have students list the stakeholders from the master list in the first column of the Stakeholder Table worksheet. They will complete the remainder of the worksheet in Activity 3.

4. Have students investigate possible measures that could be included in the Energy Policy and Conservation Act.

Have groups brainstorm on paper some possible measures that could be included in the Energy Policy and Conservation Act. Invite groups to share some of their ideas. Then, distribute the Possible Measures Table worksheet to each group and explain that this table includes some of the measures that Ford and congress considered for inclusion in the act. Have students work with their groups to research each measure. Have each group work collectively to generate possible keywords for each measure. Then have them divide up the measures among group members to research. If necessary, model how to select reliable online sources. As students research, they should take notes, keeping track of the Internet sites they use.

5. Have students work as a group to distill the information they gathered into key points.

Have students share the research they gathered individually with their small group. Students should ask questions of each group member’s research to ensure that they fully understand each measure. If necessary, students can go back to their resources or conduct additional research to answer specific questions. Once all group members have shared their research, have students work as a group to identify key points for and against each measure and record them on the Possible Measures Table. Then have them rank the importance of each measure on a scale of 1 to 3. As a class, briefly discuss the activity and ask students for ideas about other information that would be useful in evaluating the measures. Collect students’ annotated Energy Crisis Briefing, Stakeholder Tables, and Possible Measures Tables for use in formative assessment and in future activities.

Informal Assessment

Review students’ annotated copies of the Energy Crisis Briefing and Possible Measures Tables as a formative assessment. Check the annotated briefings for any common marked vocabulary or student questions and address those topics before moving on to the next activity. Use the Possible Measures Table to check for general understanding of each measure.

Extending the Learning

Have students return to the brief descriptions of a presidential decision that they wrote in Step 1. Ask them to brainstorm possible stakeholders in that decision and how the decision would affect each stakeholder.

Subjects & Disciplines

  • English Language Arts
  • Geography
  • Social Studies
    • U.S. History

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • identify stakeholders in the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975
  • identify key information about measures that could be included in the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975

Teaching Approach

  • Constructivist

Teaching Methods

  • Brainstorming
  • Cooperative learning
  • Discussions
  • Reading
  • Research
  • Writing

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 11:  The patterns and networks of economic interdependence on Earth's surface
  • 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

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.3.9-12:  Analyze the impact of constitutions, laws, treaties, and international agreements on the maintenance of national and international order
  • D2.Eco.8.9-12:  Describe the possible consequences, both intended and unintended, of government policies to improve market outcomes.
  • D2.His.1.9-12:  Evaluate how historical events and developments were shaped by unique circumstances of time and place as well as broader historical contexts

What You’ll Need

Materials You Provide

  • Highlighters
  • Paper
  • Pens

Required Technology

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

Physical Space

  • Classroom


  • Large-group instruction

Other Notes

Activity 1 is intended to be conducted over two class periods with outside time for research.

Background Information

Prior Knowledge

  • None

Recommended Prior Activities

  • None



having to do with policies or issues within a nation.


to outlaw trade of a certain good or service, or to outlaw trade from a certain place.

energy conservation

process of using less energy, or using it more efficiently and sustainably.

energy efficiency

use of a relatively small amount of energy for a given task, purpose, or service; achieving a specific output with less energy input.

energy resource

source of energy found in nature that has not been subject to any human-induced energy transfers or transformations; for example, oil, coal, gas, wind, or sunlight.

energy source

location in which the energy resource (oil, coal, gas, wind, etc.) is converted into electrical energy.


to transport goods to another place for trade.


good or service traded to another area.


having to do with another culture, country, or nation.


to bring in a good or service from another area for trade.


good traded from another area.

Oil Crisis

(~1972-1980) time during which many oil-exporting nations reduced their exports, creating oil shortages in many developed countries. Also called the Energy Crisis.

oil reserve

petroleum from a specific reservoir that can be successfully brought to the surface.