Korean War

Lesson Author
Required Time Frame
1 class periods
Grade Level(s)
Lesson Abstract
Students will read the primary source document and then engage in a discussion answering the following questions: What type of document is it? When was it written? What was its purpose?

In class we will evaluate a primary source document—a statement by the President on the Situation in Korea.

Rationale (why are you doing this?)

To let the students see why we became involved in Korea. 

Lesson Objectives - the student will

The student will read the primary source document and then engage in a discussion answering the following questions:  What type of document is it?  When was it written?  What was its purpose?

District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met
  • National History Standards:  Era 9-Postwar United States (1945-Early 1970s)

         Standard 2A-Examine the US response to the Chinese Revolution and its impact on the Cold War;

         Analyze the causes of the Korean War and how a divided Korea remained a source of

         international tension.

  • National Standard for Civics and Government:  Standard IV.B.2-Evaluate, take, and defend positions about how United States foreign policy is made

         and the means by which it is carried out.

  • Kansas standard  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).  Analyze the origins of the Cold War


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)

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed
  • Video  The Korean War  1950-1953
  • Textbook
Primary sources needed (document, photograph, artifact, diary or letter, audio or visual recording, etc.) needed
Fully describe the activity or assignment in detail. What will both the teacher and the students do?
  • 1.  Have students locate the Korean peninsula on a world map.   Ask them to also locate Japan, the former U.S.S.R., the United States, China and the 38th parallel.
  • Each student will receive a copy of #173. Statement by the President on the Situation in Korea.  They will read the document and then discuss what type of document it is. when it was written.  What was it purpose?
  • Students are divided into at least two groups.  One group will make a list of reasons why the United States entered the Korean conflict.  This information will come from the primary source document.  The second group will make a list of the reasons why the United States entered the Korean Conflict.  They will get their information from their text.  Following this there will be a discussion comparing the two lists.
  • Following the discussion, ask them what Truman meant by “Communism has passed beyond the use of subversion to conquer independent nations.  Include in this discussion a definition for the word “subversion” and what that word meant to people during the Cold War.
  • **Write the starred item on the board or in a power point.   
  • Talk to the students about the Soviet reaction to Truman’s statement.

**”Truman’s statement and actions, unprecedented in the international relations of the post-war period, are just one more indication the  American ruling circles no longer limit themselves to preparation for aggression, but have gone over to direct acts of aggression, but have gone over to direct acts of aggression...As is known, neither the United Nations nor any other international organ empowered the government of the USA to take those actions related to Korea and China that Truman announced yesterday.  Undertaking their open aggressive act, the American government apparently intended to present the United Nations with a fait accompli.”

Assessment: fully explain the assessment method in detail or create and attach a scoring guide

1.  Have students return to their groups and then draft their own public statement announcing the entry of the United States into the Korean War.

2.  Ask students to write a paragraph comparing the language and argument of Prava’s editorial with that of Truman’s statement.

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