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Decision to Fire MacArthur

Lesson Author
Required Time Frame
10 minutes in-class time to distribute assignment; 20 minutes in-class time to work in teams 10 hours outside of class
Grade Level(s)
Lesson Abstract
Teams of students will collect data to support a thesis regarding the firing of General MacArthur.

Given a thesis [“Truman was wrong to fire MacArthur.” Or “MacArthur deserved to be fired.”], teams of students will collect data to support the given thesis.

Rationale (why are you doing this?)
  • Students have difficulty identifying a thesis and/or identifying convincing arguments to buttress a thesis.
  • Students need practice dividing a thesis into component statements
  • Students need practice locating appropriate secondary sources.
Lesson Objectives - the student will
  • Given a thesis, identify relevant information to support that thesis.
  • Divide a given thesis into its component statements.
  • State evidence in a logical and convincing manner.
  • Document sources of evidentiary information.
District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met

Examine and analyze  primary documents, pose a historical question (i.e., offer an interpretation or thesis) that the weight of evidence seems to answer, then provide context for one’s historical question and evidence using available secondary literature synthesized in a well-written work of historical scholarship.


2. Continuity and change in the history of Missouri, the United States and the world

6. Relationships of the individual and groups to institutions and cultural traditions

7. The use of tools of social science inquiry (such as surveys, statistics, maps, documents)


Benchmark 3: The student uses a working knowledge and understanding of individuals, groups, ideas, developments, and turning points in the era of the Cold War (1945-1990).

3. (A) evaluates the foreign policies of Truman and Eisenhower during the Cold War (e.g., establishment of the United Nations, containment, NATO, Truman Doctrine, Berlin Blockade, Korean War, Iron Curtain, U-2 incident).

Benchmark 4: The student uses a working knowledge and understanding of individuals, groups, ideas, developments, and turning points in contemporary United States history (since 1990).

1. (K) Examines the relationship of the United States to the rest of the world in the post Cold War era (e.g., domestic and international terrorism, United States as the single superpower, United States involvement in the Middle East conflict, spread and resistance to United States popular culture).

Benchmark 5: The student engages in historical thinking skills.

1. (A) analyzes a theme in United States history to explain patterns of continuity and change over time.

2. (A) develops historical questions on a specific topic in United States history and analyzes the evidence in primary source documents to speculate on the answers.

3. (A) uses primary and secondary sources about an event in U.S. history to develop a credible interpretation of the event, evaluating on its meaning (e.g., uses provided primary

4. (A) compares competing historical narratives in United States history by contrasting different historians’ choice of questions, use of sources, and points of view, in order to demonstrate how these factors contribute to different interpretations.

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed
  • Lecture and in-class discussion.
  • Video-documentary Korea:  McArthur’s War.
  • Books and articles available in the Hooley-Bundschu Library of Avila University [to be identified by students]
  • Internet resources

Writing center’s on-line resources on Chicago style of documentation

Primary sources needed (document, photograph, artifact, diary or letter, audio or visual recording, etc.) needed
  • The Gallup Poll, published compilation in 3 volumes.
  • Relevant documents at /educ/america_at_war.html
  • Relevant political cartoons
Fully describe the activity or assignment in detail. What will both the teacher and the students do?

Teacher will

  • Write up instructions to students.
  • Make instructions available on-line via Angel system.
  • Schedule the activity and post instructions on the course syllabus.
  • Distribute instructions to students
  • Have students meet in teams to consider component questions [e.g. Was Truman politically wise to fire McArthur?  What are the Constitutional grounds and issues surrounding firing of a military leader?] and divide responsibility for component issues among team members.
  • Compile, as needed, a power-point program of visual aids, such as political cartoons.
  • Take students to participate in Decision-Center at Truman Library.

Students will

  • Work in teams to divide assignment into logical components
  • Locate appropriate evidence sources
  • Write up paper listing evidentiary arguments and correctly documenting sources.
Assessment: fully explain the assessment method in detail or create and attach a scoring guide

Paper Grade Check List

HI 326 U.S. Since 1945

Fall, 2010

 Assignment:   Supporting a Thesis

Student:          __________________________________________

 Grade:            _______________________

Rating Key:  [5] excellent; [4] above average; [3] average; [2] needs improvement; [1] unacceptable  [60 points possible]

Content of Paper






Follows the guidelines and includes the required components









Accurately explains the given thesis









Identifies and states the key points of supporting argument.








Provides relevant supporting evidence for each argument








Uses analytical thinking to accomplish the task.








Writing is clear, correct and polished, and sources are correctly documented.