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The Cold War Conflicts

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Len Krieger
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The Cold War Conflicts

Here is my curriculum project for the 2 Koreas seminar. This lesson will be over a 3 day span in about the mid-point of teaching The Cold War Unit and World at War in World History. It's Projected for 50 minute class periods with a champion of the cold war informal assessment assignment at the end as an informal assessment.


This Unit is about Conflicts of the Cold War fits after the topic has been introduced and really is a great halfway point in teaching about The Cold War. Students will be able to analyze, identify, interpret, and critically think about the conflicts of the Cold War. Students should already have background info of the cause of cold war and the main talking point of it being the antagonism and passive aggression by US and USSR and how they used outside countries and leaders as intimidation and leverage against each other. This will last over 3 class periods can be 5 (45-55 minute) classes or 3 (60-90 minute) periods.

The Lesson Blueprint

TEKS, ELPS, CCRS and 21st Century Skill


WHS.1F Identify major causes and describe the major effects of the following important turning points in world history from 1914 to the present; communist revolutions and their impact on the Cold War….

WHS.13C Identify the following major events of the Cold War, including the Korean War, the Vietnam War….

WHS.29C Explain the differences between primary and secondary sources and examine those sources to analyze frame of reference, historical context, and point of view.

WHS.29F Analyze information by sequencing, categorizing, identifying cause and effect relationships, comparing, contrasting, finding the main idea, summarizing, making generalizations and predictions, drawing inferences and conclusions, and developing connections between historical events over time.

WHS.30A Use social studies terminology correctly.


(c) 3G: Express opinions, ideas, and feelings ranging from communicating in single words and short phrases to participating in extended discussions on a variety of social and grade-appropriate academic topics

(c) 4I: demonstrate English comprehension and expand reading skills by employing inferential skills such as prediction, making connections between ideas, drawing inferences and conclusions from text and graphic sources, and finding supporting text evidence commensurate with content area needs.

(c) 5G: narrate, describe, and explain with increasing specificity and detail to fulfill content area writing needs as more English is acquired.


1.B2 Identify and evaluate sources and patterns of change and continuity across time and place.

1.B3 Analyze causes and effects of major political, economic, and social changes in U.S. and world history.

1.C1 Evaluate different governmental systems and functions.

1.D1 Identify and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different economic systems.

1.E4 Identify and evaluate the sources and consequences of social conflict.

3.A2 Connect regional or local developments to global ones.

4.A1 Identify and analyze the main ideas(s) and point(s) of view in sources.

4.A2 Situate an informational source in its appropriate contexts (contemporary, historical, cultural.)


21st Century Skill:  critical thinking, communication

Essential Understandings and Guiding Questions

Essential Understanding: The Superpowers sought to influence other countries politically and economically after WWII.

Guiding Questions: What were the causes and consequences of the Korean War? What were the causes and consequences of the Vietnam War?

            Do NOW - 

Students complete Learning Target Self Assessment.

Engage - 

Where in the World is…?


1. Say: The Cold War turned “hot” in Asia.  After WWII, Korea became a divided nation – the communist north with a Soviet supported government and the non-communist south supported by the U.S.  Much like Korea, the country of Vietnam was divided as well. The communist north and the non-communist south. But many Americans did not know where these countries were!  See if you can find them yourself.

Have students go to this website: Allow students to play the map game for 10 minutes.

Transition to New Learning – Say: Today you will look at the causes, military actions, and results of these two Cold War conflicts.  Think about how these wars are examples of the Cold War policy of containment.


Cold War Vocabulary


1. Have students open the windowpane document. 

Say: Notice the windowpane already has the vocabulary term written in it.  At the bottom of the page, you will see definitions and visuals.  As we go through each definition, follow this process:

Are there any terms or parts of the terms that you already know?  For example, in “demilitarized”, is there a word that you recognize? (military) What is the military? (armed forces)  Ask for student responses as you go through each word.

Look at the definitions.  Try and reduce the number of words in each definition to 6 words or less.  Allow students reduce terms. Have them type in the new definition in the appropriate space.

Look at the visuals.  Select the visual that you feel best represents each definition. Copy and paste the visual into the appropriate block on your windowpane.

Purposeful Note Taking


1. Say: Look at the maps of Korea and Vietnam on your content block. The lesson for today could be titled “When Worlds Collide.”  Even after the end of WWII, East Asia remained an area of tension. Both Soviet and U.S. troops occupied Japan’s former colony of Korea. Vietnamese leader, Ho Chi Minh, a communist, asked the United States to help him stop the French from regaining control of Vietnam. However, the U.S. didn’t trust Ho Chi Minh, because he was a communist, and decided to help the French.  The U.S. involvement in both the Korean War and the Vietnam War are results of Cold War tensions.

2. Have students go to page 3 of their vocabulary windowpane and find the brief summary of the Korean War. 

Say:  The first two paragraphs of this summary gives you the background and context of the war.  Read these first two paragraphs independently.  As you read, highlight or underline things that demonstrate Cold War tensions. (Possible Answers: U.S. occupied South Korea and Communist troops occupied North Korea, elections were only held in South Korea.)

Say: Now as I read aloud, let’s determine the causes and results of the Korean War.

Say: I will stop after each paragraph.  If there is a cause of the war, highlight the cause.  If there is a military action, highlight the event with a different color, and if there is a result or consequence of the war, underline the result. Remember that causes and results may be immediate or long-term, including casualties, current government and economic system, etc.

Read aloud one paragraph at a time. After each paragraph, use a randomized response protocol or Cold Call to call on students to share what they have annotated. 

Say: Write the causes, military actions, and results in the table on your organizer.

Possible Answers – Causes:  North Korea invades South Korea; UN authorizes military action

Possible Answers -  Military Actions: North Korea advances to Pusan, surprise attack at Inchon, Chinese enter the war,

Possible Answers – Results: North and South Korea remain independent nations; Korea divided at 38th parallel, UN troops will defend nations.

3. Brain Break! – Check For Understanding: The Befuddled Newspaper Editor

Have students open the Timeline graphic organizer (it is a power point slide) titled “Korean Chronology”.


Slide 1 is the organizer with dates and headlines.

Slide 2 contains summaries of events. 

Say: The editor of a newspaper has been given headlines and news stories about the Korean War.  Unfortunately, while the headlines are in the correct order, the news stories have been all mixed up.

Say: On slide 1, you will see a timeline with the “headlines” that describe events of the Korean War.  On slide 2 are explanations, or news stories, and they are all mixed up.  Your task is help the editor get the newspaper out on time by placing each news story with the correct headline.

Say; Go to slide 2 and copy a summary. Go back to slide 1 and paste it beside your best guess as to where it fits.

Monitor students as they complete the task.  Go over the answers. 

Say: As we go through the headlines and stories, we will add any additional information to your chart.

Transition to Guided Practice – Say: Much like Korea, U.S. involvement in Vietnam was a result of the Cold War containment policy guided by the belief that if one nation fell to communism, that all would fall.  Remember, China fell and North Korea is communist and now so is North Vietnam. Stopping the spread of communism was the main goal of U.S. policy.

Guided Practice - 

Purposeful Reading

Before class preparation: download and print the organizer titled Vietnam Graphic Organizer.



1. Have students open the reading titled “Vietnam.”  

Say: Follow along as I read this fictitious speech by Ho Chi Minh, communist leader of Vietnam.

“My country’s history is a proud one. My people have suffered from foreigners for over 1,000 years. The Chinese ruled us and we fought ten wars with them. The French invaded us and made us a French colony. Japan was our enemy and now the French are trying to return to rule us.  Tomorrow, others may invade. No matter. We are a stubborn people. We can wait – the longer we wait, the greater our enemies defeat!”

2. Place students in groups of 3 to 4. Select one person to be the Discussion Leader. Explain that this student will make sure that the discussion continues, that students are on task, and that everyone has an opportunity to speak.  Direct the Discussion Leader to the “Bounce Stems” on the content block to help them. Distribute the graphic organizer.

3. Say: Read this brief summary of the Vietnam War.  As you read, answer this question and fill in on your graphic organizer:

What surprised you about the Vietnam War?

Say: Be prepared to discuss the answers to this question in your group.  You will use the sentence starters and stems on the organizer to help you with the discussion.  Try and keep the discussion going for at least two minutes.  Your discussion leader will make sure everyone is on topic.

4. Have students go back to text

Say: Read the text again - How has your knowledge about Vietnam been confirmed, challenged, or changed?

Say: Annotate your text using the following:

Highlight the cause(s) of the Vietnam War.

Highlight the military actions using a different color.

Underline the consequences or results of the Vietnam War – including casualties and the current government and economic system. There may be other results as well.

Debrief – Say: Just as before, have a conversation in your group concerning how your thinking has been affected.  Use the conversation starters on your graphic organizer.

Say: Take your annotated text and write in the causes and results of the Vietnam War on three column chart on your graphic organizer.

Possible Answers – Causes:  Division of Vietnam into two countries, South Vietnamese government is unpopular, Viet Cong begin war, U.S. promises to support South Vietnam

Possible Answers – Military Actions:  French are defeated at Dien Bien Phu, U.S. ships attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin, U.S. bombs Cambodia, North Vietnam defeats South Vietnam

Possible Answers – Results: 46,000 Americans killed, U.S. left South Vietnam, Vietnam is one nation- communist, many Vietnamese fled the country after the war, etc.

 Transition to Independent Practice – Say: As you look at your three column charts – look for the similarities and differences in these two wars. 

Independent Practice - 

Applying New Knowledge


1. Say/Ask: In what ways were the causes and effects of the conflicts in Vietnam and Korea similar?  Create your own graphic organizer to show your ideas.  You may use either a:

  1. Venn Diagram
  2. Y-Chart

NOTE:  visuals of what these organizers look like are on the student content block.  However, they are also on this document that students can use if desired.  

2. Say: At the bottom of each graphic organizer, explain how the Korean War and the Vietnam War were examples of cold war policies.

Make sure you address the following in your answer:

  • What was the U.S. cold war policy?
  • Use at least 3 of the 4 new vocabulary words in your explanation.

3. Students will turn in their organizer as an assignment.

Closure - 

  1. Turn in graphic organizer and explanation you created as an assignment. 
  2. Revisit Learning Target Self Assessment.  

            Extension – 

                             Research and complete newsomatic worksheet by finding an article of your choosing on the website.

           Assessment mini- Project 

                             Champion of the Cold War Assignment. See attachment for directions.