Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

The Curtain Falls

End of the Cold War

Laura Halstied, Mary Braggs | Published: September 20th, 2022 by K20 Center

Summary

In this lesson, students will examine why the Cold War came to an end. Students will view video footage of the fall of the Berlin Wall, look for reasons the Cold War ended by analyzing data and Why-Lighting a reading, and extend their understanding by working in groups to create pie charts that detail the many reasons the Cold War came to an end. Students will summarize their learning by writing a six-word memoir about the end of the Cold War.

Essential Question(s)

Why do governments collapse?

Snapshot

Engage

Students view footage from when the Berlin Wall came down and complete an I Notice, I Wonder activity.

Explore

Students analyze a chart comparing demographics of the USSR and the USA around 1980 to look for possible issues within the USSR.

Explain

Students highlight a reading about the various issues facing the Soviet Union that led to its collapse and discuss reasons for the fall of the Soviet Union.

Extend

Students work in groups to create a pie chart that divides up the reasons for the end of the Cold War and explain their reasoning. Then, the class views all of the pie charts and reviews the reasoning of each group.

Evaluate

Students create a Six-Word Memoir that summarizes the end of the Cold War.

Materials

  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • USSR and USA Comparison handout (attached; one per pair)

  • End of the Cold War Reading handout (attached; one per student)

  • Pen/pencil

  • Markers/colored pencils

  • Large sticky pad paper or poster board (one per group)

  • Glue sticks/tape

  • Card stock

  • Rulers

  • Scissors

  • Sticky notes

Engage

5 Minute(s)

As class is beginning, provide each student with a sticky note. Use the attached Lesson Slides to guide the lesson. Display slide 3 and introduce students to the I Notice, I Wonder strategy. As students watch the following video clip, ask them to think about something they notice and something they wonder. Play “Nov. 10, 1989: Celebration at the Berlin Wall” on slide 2, which has footage of people celebrating the fall of the Berlin Wall.

After the video clip, give students a moment to think about something they noticed and a question they have and write their thoughts on their sticky note. Ask for a few volunteers to share what they have written down.

If students have not studied the Berlin Wall in class, explain the significance of the wall that separated east and west Germany for almost thirty years, one event that led to the end of the Cold War. Move to slide 4 and read the essential question, why do governments collapse? Tell students to think about this question as they complete the lesson, then move to slide 5 and review the lesson objective with students.

Explore

15 Minute(s)

Place students in pairs and pass out the attached USSR and USA Comparison handout to each pair. Move to slide 6 and introduce students to the WIS-WIM strategy. Tell students to examine the data on the handout and think about how the data might have contributed to issues within the USSR. Have students circle or highlight specific pieces of data, this is the "what I see" portion of the strategy. Close to the data students have circled or highlighted, have students write how this data might have led to issues in the USSR, this is the "what it means'' portion of the strategy. Have each pair of students go over what they have written down with another pair of students, then ask for a few volunteers to share their thoughts.

Explain

15 Minute(s)

Tell students they will next read more about the reasons for the Soviet Union’s collapse. Pass out the attached End of the Cold War Reading to each student but allow students to read the handout in pairs. Move to slide 7 and introduce students to the Why-Lighting strategy. Tell students to highlight passages that could have led to the end of the Cold War. Next to the highlighted portions, tell students to write notes that explain why they highlighted the passage. After providing time for students to complete the reading, have each pair of students compare what they have highlighted with another pair of students. Ask for volunteers to share what they highlighted and how it contributed to the end of the Cold War.

Extend

25 Minute(s)

Place students into groups of four and provide each group with a piece of large chart paper or poster board. Display slide 8 and introduce students to the Dividing the Pie strategy. Tell students that they should create a pie chart that divides up the reasons for the end of the Cold War into percentages that equal 100%. Around the pie chart, they should add the reasons for assigning each piece a certain percentage. Tell students to create a rough draft of the pie chart before creating it on the large paper. Encourage students to be creative and add a title and some illustrations to the large paper.

Hang the completed pie chart posters around the classroom and provide time for students to view each group’s pie charts. Have students compare the different percentage weights that each group decided upon and tell students to look for commonalities between charts.

Evaluate

5 Minute(s)

Tell students to return to their desks after viewing the posters, ask for a few volunteers to discuss the similarities and differences between pie charts. Pass out a sticky note to each student. Move to slide 9 and introduce students to the Six-Word Memoir strategy. Tell students to think of why the Cold War ended and summarize their thoughts into just six words. An example of a six-word memoir about the end of the Cold War is on slide 9. Ask for a few volunteers to share their memoirs and have students post their sticky note on the classroom door or wall as they leave for the day.

Resources