This unit covers the rise of Communist China, the Cold War and its military conflicts, through the collapse of Communism.
The Cold War unit contains 11 learning experiences.
Learning Experiences (Lessons) in The Cold War Each learning experience takes about 45 minutes to teach in the device-enabled classroom.
Students contrast an idealized Communist propaganda poster from 1959 to photographs of the same period. Next they watch a video and summarize stages of modern Chinese history since the overthrow of imperial rule, and they learn about Maoism. Then they examine the Chinese economy and how changes in government structure helped it develop. Finally they research the modern history of Taiwan or Mongolia and explain its connection with China.
The Onset of the Cold War
Students watch a photomontage of key events and trends of the Cold War and then try to describe what the Cold War was. Then they read several general articles about the Cold War and the “iron curtain.” Next they analyze the Truman Doctrine and state an opinion about it. Finally they learn about NATO and list some positive and negative aspects of the political alliance.
Military Conflicts of the Cold War
Students examine a nighttime satellite image of the Korean Peninsula and generate questions about it, and they examine visuals that compare and contrast between North and South Korea. Then they watch a video and read articles about the Korean War and its effects. Next they learn about the Vietnam War as a Cold War conflict. Finally they analyze the domino theory and whether it justified U.S. involvement in military conflicts.
Case Studies of Cold War Conflict
Students react to a photograph of a duck-and-cover drill during the Cuban missile crisis. Over the next three scenes they are introduced to the Cuban missile crisis, Cold War conflicts in the Middle East, and the space race, and generate questions about them. Next they choose a Cold War topic, develop inquiry questions, and conduct research to answer them. Then they follow the writing process to create a written case study. Finally, they read about the Mutually Assured Destruction strategy and write an imaginary diary entry of a political leader faced with difficult decisions. Students conclude by evaluating their case studies using a rubric.
The Cold War in Latin America
Students examine scenarios and choose between the undesirable and the unacceptable. Then they watch a video and read about the Cold War in Latin America, and how it brought about military dictatorships. They focus on Argentine politics. Next they analyze formerly classified documents about U.S. involvement in Argentina’s “Dirty War” and summarize what the documents show about the connection between the military regime and the Cold War. Finally they research a military junta that ruled a non-Latin American country and evaluate if it was related to the Cold War.
The Collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe
Students build a classwide timeline of the history of the Berlin Wall. Then they learn about the revolutions that ended Communist rule across Eastern Europe. Next they examine the factors that contributed to the collapse of these Communist regimes. Finally they research what happened in the various countries in the decade following the overthrow of the Communist governments.
The Breakup of the Soviet Union
Students watch a video of a song about the fall of the Soviet Union and note two facts they learned from the song. Then they examine the factors that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Next they use historical thinking to determine the most important cause of the breakup of the Soviet Union. Then they analyze an article contrasting Gorbachev and Yeltsin. Finally they read an article about the long-term effects of the breakup, including the stories of some ordinary Russian citizens; students write a letter from that perspective.
Decolonization in Asia
Students brainstorm names of non-self-governing territories and then check a map. Then they create a classwide chart of Asian countries and the year they gained independence and relate these dates to the end of World War II. Next they focus on India’s struggle for independence and argue for it as nonviolent or violent. Finally they view a collection of photographs taken during India’s partition, and they write an imaginary diary entry of someone who lived through it.
Decolonization in Africa
Students watch a short video of how malaria affected the colonization of Africa and brainstorm other diseases that have impacted world history. Then they examine various independence movements across Africa. Next they analyze how South Africa and Zimbabwe had a different colonial experience, and they compare and contrast it to the colonization of Kenya. Finally they analyze how the short history of Biafra reflects arbitrary borders drawn by European colonizers.
Long-Term Effects of Colonization
Students upload an image showing one lasting impact of colonization anywhere in the world. Then they examine the challenges faced by former colonies after gaining independence. Next they work in small groups to research and prepare an analysis of the lasting effects of colonization on one of ten countries. Finally, in an optional scene they read excerpts from Guns, Germs, and Steel and Things Fall Apart and then write a scene in which an individual from a colonizing expedition meets an indigenous group for the first time.
Shifting Maps and Borders
Students first guess how many new countries have been formed since the year 2000. Then they summarize several articles about the breakup of Yugoslavia and its republics. Next they explain how the break up of Yugoslavia reflects the idea that borders are changeable, not “set in stone.” Finally they learn about the Russia-Ukraine conflict and summarize from both the Russian and the Ukrainian points-of-view.