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Big Era Nine: Landscape Unit 9.2

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The Two Big Powers and Their Cold War
1945 - 1990 CE

Why This Unit?

This unit falls in Big Era Nine after a unit on post-World War II world politics and global economy and is therefore designed to build upon students’ previous knowledge of that era, including World War II outcomes, the establishment of the United Nations, and the unstable economic and political conditions of nations across the globe. The unit starts with students forming definitions of “Cold War” and “Third World” and framing the problem they will work on throughout the unit: How did the opposing ideologies of the United States and the Soviet Union affect political, cultural, and economic developments in the Third World? The first lesson focuses on reading and discussion of three primary documents that will shed light on the values underlying the competing ideologies and the reasons why they stood in such strong opposition to each other. At the end of the lesson, a suggested assessment has students answering the following questions: What ideas and values underlie capitalism and communism? Why were the ideologies of the United States and the Soviet Union in opposition? How might these opposing ideologies result in political, economic, and cultural developments in the Third World? These questions set the context for the remaining lessons in the unit.

Unit Objectives

Upon completing this unit, students will be able to:

1. Describe major differences in the political ideologies of the United States and the Soviet Union.

2. Explain the causes of the Korean War and how they connect to global patterns during the Cold War.

3. Explain the causes and consequences of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

4. Explain how competition between the United States and the Soviet Union affected developments in Third World countries such as Egypt, Iran, the Congo, Chile, Afghanistan, and Vietnam.

Time and Materials

This unit will take approximately 8-10 one-hour class periods to complete all four lessons. You will need an overhead projector. You may also need markers, poster board, and other supplies for Lessons 3 and 4.

Table of Contents

Why this unit?

  2

Unit objectives

  3

Time and materials

  3

Authors

  3

The historical context

  3

This unit in the Big Era timeline

  5

Lesson 1: Capitalism Versus Communism: Ideological Foundations of the Cold War

  6

Lesson 2: The Korean War: A Case of Competing Ideologies

23

Lesson 3: Three “Worlds” Collide: The Cuban Missile Crisis

38

Lesson 4: Mapping the Cold War: Investigating the Role of Third World Countries

43

Final Assessment

48

This unit and the Three Essential Questions

49

This unit and the Seven Key Themes

49

This unit and the Standards in Historical Thinking

49

Resources

50

Correlations to National and State Standards and to Textbooks

50

Conceptual links to other lessons

52

Complete Teaching Unit in PDF Format

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