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4 Lesson Plans
In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: How should we remember the dropping of the atomic bomb? First, students are told that they will choose an appropriate photo to accompany a U.N. website commemorating the dropping of the bomb. Students are then introduced to 2 narratives about WWII: "Hiroshima as Victimization" (the Japanese point of view) vs. "Hiroshima as Triumph" (the American point of view). The class is then divided into 2 halves, each of which looks at a variety of source documents-anecdotes, letters, and data-through its side's point of view only. Students then form groups of 4 to choose which image should be used in the "website." Each group shares its image and explains why they chose it. In a final discussion, the class talks about whether the bomb should have been dropped and whether they can second-guess a decision like Truman's.
In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why were Japanese-Americans interned during World War II? The teacher first distributes a timeline, which the class reviews together. Students then view a government-made newsreel from 1942 explaining the rationale for internment. This is followed by 4 more documents, including the "Munson Report," an excerpt from the Supreme Court's decision in U.S. v Korematsu, and the 1983 report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. For each, students answer guiding questions and formulate a hypothesis: according to the document, why was internment necessary? A final class discussion has students determine which document(s) best explain what occurred.
In this lesson, designed to follow a more general study of the New Deal, students analyze primary and secondary source documents and engage in a Structured Academic Controversy in an effort to answer the central historical question: Was the New Deal a success or a failure? Students receive 7 documents, including a "fireside chat" by FDR, an oral interview, a speech by a WPA representative, unemployment statistics, and song lyrics by the Carter Family. Students then divide into groups of 4 and into pairs within each group to analyze the documents using a graphic organizer. Each pair presents the argument to the other that the New Deal was either (Pair A) successful or (Pair B) a failure. Only at the end can students abandon their previous positions, reach consensus in writing as a group, and defend that view in a final class discussion.
In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: What caused the Zoot Suit Riots? The teacher first provides background information on the incident and then the class looks at their textbook account and answers brief questions. Students then form pairs and analyze 2 documents: 1) a Los Angeles Daily News account of the riots and 2) a letter from the Committee for the Defense of Mexican American Youth, addressed to U.S. Vice President Wallace. For both, students answer guiding questions on a graphic organizer. A final class discussion contextualizes and corroborates the documents: Is one more reliable? What caused the riots?
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