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5 Lesson Plans
In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Why did the Russians pull their missiles out of Cuba? The teacher begins by recapping the Cold War and the presence of missiles in Cuba and streams a video clip from Discovery Education about the Crisis and the negotiations that ended it. *Please see note in reviewer public remark below about this video. Students then analyze, in pairs, 3 documents: 1) a letter from Chairman Khrushchev to President Kennedy, 2) a letter from Kennedy to Khrushchev, and 3) a cable from Soviet ambassador Dobrynin to his foreign ministry. For each, they answer guiding questions. A final class discussion addresses the documents: What kind of a deal was struck? Why was it secret? Does the class textbook mention it?
In this lesson, students analyze primary and secondary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: How and why did the U.S. fight the Cold War in Guatemala? The teacher begins by explaining how covert actions were part of the Cold War. Students read 2 brief accounts of the CIA takeover from recent textbooks. Students answer questions in pairs. Class discussion: Why does each textbook include details the other leaves out? Students then read a declassified CIA document-an assassination list with names deleted-and discuss: how does this document challenge the textbook accounts? A final class discussion attempts to place this incident in the larger context of what students have learned about the Cold War.
In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Was the U.S. planning to go war with North Vietnam before the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution? The teacher begins by showing a map of Vietnam (PowerPoint) and giving students extensive background information-and a timeline-about U.S. involvement in the conflict. Students then review 4 documents: 1) the text of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, 2) a memo from McGeorge Bundy to LBJ, 3) a telegram from State Secretary Rusk to the Vietnamese embassy, and 4) the transcript of a phone conversation between Bundy and LBJ. Students answer extensive guiding questions for all documents and write a paragraph-length response to the central question, corroborating all that they have learned. A final class discussion evaluates the evidence.
In this lesson, students analyze secondary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Who started the Korean War? The teacher begins by first explaining that textbooks can be biased sources and then uses a brief PowerPoint to show the geography of Korea and why/when war began there. Students then form pairs and read 2 accounts of the war: one from a South Korean textbook and another from a North Korean book. For both, students not only summarize and answer questions, but they must identify which source is which (North or South Korea?) and use textual details to prove it. In a class discussion, students share their answers. If time remains, the class may corroborate these sources with their own class textbook.
In this lesson, students analyze primary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: How did Americans respond to President Truman's decision to fire General MacArthur? The teacher begins by explaining how MacArthur wanted to invade China to resolve the Korean War stalemate in 1951 and why Truman fired him for insubordination. Students are asked to make a prediction: what do you think the reaction was to the firing of this popular general? Students then analyze 3 documents: 1) a memo to Truman tabulating the letters he received after the firing (pro vs. con), 2) a letter by AMVETS supporting the firing, and 3) a very critical letter from a woman in Texas. For the last 2, students answer questions on a graphic organizer in groups. A whole group discussion follows and a quick debriefing on the impacts of the war's conclusion are presented.
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