Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

On Pins and Needles

Effects of the Cold War

Kim Press, Daniel Schwarz | Published: November 4th, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 10th, 11th
  • Subject Subject Social Studies
  • Course Course U.S. History, World History
  • Time Frame Time Frame 90 minutes
  • Duration More 1-2 Class Periods


This lesson will introduce students to the impact of the Cold War within the United States. This lesson is meant to be taught after the WWII content was introduced to students and can be used in tandem with multiple cross-curricular lessons in LEARN. Using hands-on activities, discussions, and research, students will explore how the Cold War affected citizens in the United States.

Essential Question(s)

How did the Cold War affect citizens of the United States?



Students recall previous knowledge of Cold War effects using the I Used to Think…But Now I Know strategy.


Students explore one effect of the Cold War in the United States by analyzing an article with the S-I-T strategy.


Students watch a video and summarize information utilizing an inverted pyramid graphic organizer to facilitate their understanding of the effects of the Cold War.


Students use the Jigsaw strategy to read an article to compare and contrast similar Cold War effects across different time periods.


Students complete the I Used to Think…But Now I Know strategy to demonstrate understanding.


  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • I Used to Think… But Now I Know handout (attached; 1 per student)

  • S-I-T handout (attached; 1 per student)

  • Inverted Pyramid Graphic Organizer handout (attached; 1 per student)

  • Inverted Pyramid Graphic Organizer Explanation handout (attached; 1 per student)

  • On Pins and Needles Jigsaw Article (attached; 1 per student)

  • Jigsaw handout (attached; 1 per student)

  • Student devices with Internet access

  • Pencils

  • Paper


10 Minute(s)

Use the attached Lesson Slides to guide the lesson.

Begin with slide 2. Introduce the Cold War and its effects. Review slides 3-4 to introduce students to the essential question and learning objective.

Display slide 5. Have students partake in the I Used to Think…But Now I Know strategy utilizing their previous knowledge of the effects from the Cold War within the United States. Pass out the I Used to Think…But Now I Know handout, or have students divide a piece of paper into two columns. The left-hand column should be labeled "I Used to Think," and the right-hand column labeled "But Now I Know." Students should individually record what they know about how the Cold War affected people within the US in the left-hand column.

Have students share their thoughts with an Elbow Partner, or if there is time, in a large group discussion. Students complete the right-hand column later in this lesson during the Evaluation.


20 Minute(s)

Display slide 6. Allow students to get familiar with the S-I-T strategy.

Ask students to look for one Surprising fact or idea, one Interesting fact or idea, and one Troubling fact or idea as they read the Cold War Article, located on the top of the S-I-T handout.

Have students use the S-I-T handout to read the article and add their reading reflection responses.

Providing time to complete the S-I-T handout, ask students to share their responses with an Elbow Partner. Provide time for volunteers to share their responses to the large group.


20 Minute(s)

Display slide 7. Pass out the blank Inverted Pyramid Graphic Organizer handout and the Inverted Pyramid Graphic Organizer Explanation handout to each student. You may also have students draw an upside-down pyramid with three sections. Let students know that as they watch the clip, they should jot down the following: the most important information (the 5 Ws) on the top of the pyramid, followed by essential information (story details, background information, and evidence) in the middle, and the extras (interesting facts, relation to other events or personal experiences) at the bottom.

Students may reference the explanation handout while they are watching the clip to provide reminders of what to write in each section of the pyramid.

Display slide 8. Have the students watch: Some Hoosiers Carry Permanent Reminder Of 'Operation Tat-Type'. After watching the video, have students complete the inverted pyramid and share their analysis with a small group or the entire class.


30 Minute(s)

Display slide 9. Have students engage in the Jigsaw strategy using an article that examines instances in different regions and time periods in which a government tattooed its people. After you have placed students in groups of four, assign one member in each group with a number that corresponds with the portion they will read and Jigsaw in the Jigsaw Article.

The numbers are as follows:

Person 1: Punjab Police (India)

Person 2: Australian Convicts

Person 3: China

Person 4: Ancient Greece (Athens)

Provide students with the Jigsaw handout. As they read, they should write important information down in the appropriate row that reflects the correct region. They then answer the following questions: What happened in this location? (left-hand column) and How is it similar or different from what happened in the Cold War? (right-hand column).

After students have become "experts," display slide 10, and have them mingle with their group to share what they learned in their portion of the article. As each member is sharing, students should add to the Jigsaw handout until it has been completed.

After a few minutes, when the mingling is over, have a brief class discussion over each portion of the article. Encourage volunteer representatives from each group to share their findings.


10 Minute(s)

Display slide 11. Have students finish their I Used to Think…But Now I Know handout in the right-hand column. Students should individually record what they now understand about how the Cold War affected citizens of the United States.

Have students share their thoughts either within a small-group or large-group discussion.