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Marshall Plan: Convince the American People

Lesson Author
Required Time Frame
3 days (dependent on the class size)
Grade Level(s)
Lesson Abstract
This lesson plan requires the classroom to be divided into proponents and opponents to the Marshall Plan.

This lesson plan requires the classroom to be divided into proponents and opponents to the Marshall Plan.  Using primary documents from the Truman Library website , the proponents will create a persuasive speech trying to convince a skeptical American public to support the measures of rebuilding war-torn Europe.  The opponents will use general arguments against the plan to formulate questions to ask the proponents after their speeches.  After presentations, students will construct an essay detailing both sides of the arguments and ultimately taking a side in the debate.

    Rationale (why are you doing this?)

    Basic skills are required for college and career readiness.  Of these, oral expression and supporting opinions with facts are keys to success.  This assignment allows students to develop these skills and acquire knowledge of the Marshall Plan.

      Lesson Objectives - the student will
      • Identify the main arguments for and against the Marshall Plan
      • Analyze primary sources related to the Marshall Plan
      • Construct arguments to defend or refute the Marshall Plan
      District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met
      • AP-8  Describe and evaluate the evolution of United States domestic and foreign policies, including: Cold War
      • AP-11  Examine all of the wars of the twentieth century (i.e., World War I and II), including: causes, comparisons, consequences and peace efforts
      • AP-15  Determine the economic consequences of personal and public decisions
      • AP-17  Explain the United States role in the global economy and of the roles of trade, treaties, international organizations and comparative advantage in the global economy
      • Common Core Social Studies – Reading Informational Text: Key Ideas and Details 11-12
        • 1.  Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text

      says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining

      where the text leaves matters uncertain.

      • Common Core  Social Studies – Writing: Text Types and Purposes 11-12
        • 1. Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts,

      using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence

      • a.  Introduce precise, knowledgeable claim(s), establish the significance of the

      claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and

      create an organization that logically sequences claim(s), counterclaims,

      reasons, and evidence.

      • b. Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly and thoroughly, supplying the

      most relevant evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and

      limitations of both in a manner that anticipates the audience’s knowledge

      level, concerns, values, and possible biases.

      • Common Core Social Studies – Writing:  Production and Distribution of Writing 11-12
        • 4.  Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization,

      and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific

      expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1–3 above.)

      • Common Core Social Studies – Speaking and Listening: Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas 11-12
        • 4.  Present information, findings, and supporting evidence, conveying a clear

      and distinct perspective, such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning,

      alternative or opposing perspectives are addressed, and the organization,

      development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and a

      range of formal and informal tasks.

      Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed
      • Nation of Nations
      • Nick Cullather, Indiana University.  “CIA and the Marshall Plan:  The Paradoxes of Liberal Anti-Communism”.  Presented at Ninth Annual Truman Library Teachers Conference.  The Legacy of the Marshall Plan.  July 9-13, 2012
      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. Start Activity – Display the following quick writing prompt so all students can see, “What would be the advantages and disadvantages of rebuilding a country we have defeated in war?”  Discuss the student answers to get a preview of the pros and cons of this issue.
      2. Provide the necessary background information necessary for students to have a basic knowledge of the Marshall Plan.
      3. Divide the class into 2 groups.  Assign one group to research arguments supporting the Marshall Plan and the other group to develop arguments against the Marshall Plan.
      4. Provide students with a packet of the following primary documents from these websites
      5. Provide time for student groups to analyze the primary documents and review the secondary sources.  Assign the remaining analyses to be done at home.  Instruct students to bring to class any questions they have about the documents the next day.
      6. Provide time for the student groups to develop arguments, speeches, and questions for the opposing side.  It is the teacher’s option whether to provide time to revise student speeches.
      7. Present the speeches in favor of the Marshall Plan.  After each speech, allow students that are part of the opposing side to ask questions or present arguments against the Marshall Plan.

      As a capstone, students will write a persuasive essay on whether to accept or reject the Marshall Plan

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


      4 - Above Standards

      3 - Meets Standards

      2 - Approaching Standards

      1 - Below Standards


      Attention Grabber

      The introductory paragraph has a strong hook or attention grabber that is appropriate for the audience. This could be a strong statement, a relevant quotation, statistic, or question addressed to the reader.

      The introductory paragraph has a hook or attention grabber, but it is weak, rambling or inappropriate for the audience.

      The author has an interesting introductory paragraph but the connection to the topic is not clear.

      The introductory paragraph is not interesting AND is not relevant to the topic.


      Focus or Thesis Statement

      The thesis statement names the topic of the essay and outlines the main points to be discussed.

      The thesis statement names the topic of the essay.

      The thesis statement outlines some or all of the main points to be discussed but does not name the topic.

      The thesis statement does not name the topic AND does not preview what will be discussed.


      Evidence and Examples

      All of the evidence and examples are specific, relevant and explanations are given that show how each piece of evidence supports the author’s position.

      Most of the evidence and examples are specific, relevant and explanations are given that show how each piece of evidence supports the author’s position.

      At least one of the pieces of evidence and examples is relevant and has an explanation that shows how that piece of evidence supports the author’s position.

      Evidence and examples are NOT relevant AND/OR are not explained.



      A variety of thoughtful transitions are used. They clearly show how ideas are connected

      Transitions show how ideas are connected, but there is little variety

      Some transitions work well, but some connections between ideas are fuzzy.

      The transitions between ideas are unclear OR nonexistent.


      Closing paragraph

      The conclusion is strong and leaves the reader solidly understanding the writer’s position. Effective restatement of the position statement begins the closing paragraph.

      The conclusion