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Activity 1

Essential Question

How do clashes of ideology impact governments and how people live?


The Cold War had a powerful impact upon policies of government and upon people's lives. Nations divided over which side they favored in the Cold War, that of the United States or that of the Soviet Union. Nations often gained favors for supporting one side or the other. In some cases, both the Soviet Union and the United States supported dictatorships so long as those dictatorships took their sides in the Cold War, and human rights suffered as a result. In the United States, people read and worried very much about developments in the Cold War, whether this nation was taking adequate steps to fight communism, whether this nation was taking away people's freedoms in the name of fighting communism, whether children were being poisoned by radioactive fallout from nuclear tests, and whether to include "fallout shelters" in new homes they were building. The Cold War had a profound effect upon governments, families, and individuals.


Instructional Strategies

Strategy 1

Using Video Clips to Research Information

Use the following websites for students to learn about the participants in the cold war.

As they view the video clips, ask them to think about:

Have them narrow their focus to these key individuals:

Have the students complete the Structured Viewing Sheet as they view the video clips. Use the viewing sheet as a summary of the information students have learned from the video clips. Have individual students come to the front of the room to talk about what they have learned about one of the people or groups on the list.

Check for Understanding

Printable Student View

Narrow focus to these key individuals:

  • President Richard Nixon
  • Leonid Brezhnev
  • Deng Xiaoping
  • Mikhail Gorbachev
  • Journalists
  • Teachers
  • Students
  1. Who were the major participants in the Cold War?
  2. What were their key actions?
  3. What was the motivation for their actions?

Have the students assume the role of one of the individuals and have them address the class as if they were responding to these questions in the first person.

Scoring Guide


Strategy 2

Triptych (three-panel) Poster Exhibition: "The Beginnings of the Cold War"

Check for Understanding

Printable Student View
  • Students will present an exhibition of the posters.
  • A key activity of the exhibition will be a "tour" by each learning group of the other nine projects. Students will ask questions of each group using a Focus Sheet to guide the discussion. This will provide an opportunity for each group to present their project to others and demonstrate their understanding of their own project. As they visit other projects they will also see how their project fits into the total picture of the Cold War Era.
  • One of the most important questions to be asked in the "tour" is that of which source(s) did your team find to be the most useful and why?

Scoring Guide