Ending WWII: Japan vs. U.S.

In this lesson, students construct a debate based on evidence from primary and secondary source documents.
Students will be tasked to debate for the PRO or CON side, using sources provided. Students will either defend or argue against the following statement:

Was the U.S. justified in dropping the atomic bombs on Japan?

See complete details and instruction in the link below!
This Sway!

Ending WWII: Japan vs. U.S.
By Nicole Matier
Go to this Sway


“My Japan” Edpuzzle

This activity is designed for a high-school class learning about World War II.
This lesson should be used when teaching about U.S. involvement with Japan during the war.
Ideally, I would do this with my students before teaching them about the dropping of the atomic bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I feel it is a good demonstration of propaganda to explain why the U.S. decided to take such drastic measures to end the war.

This activity was created on Edpuzzle. It involves students watching a video from Youtube and answering questions along the way. Questions are timestamped in to the video, and the video atomically stops to allow students to answer the question. The video then continues when students submit their question.

The video “My Japan (1945)” is a propaganda film made by the U.S. to portray Japan in a terrifying light.

Throughout the film, I ask the following questions:
1. How is Japan portrayed so far in this film?
2. What does the narrator refer to as “the heart” of Japan?
3. What are some of the comparisons made between the people of Japan and the people of the U.S.?
4. In making these comparisons, how are the people of Japan being portrayed? How are the people of the U.S. being portrayed?
5. How is Japan being portrayed later in the film?
6. What do you think was the purpose of this film? Why?
7. After seeing the very end of this film, did your mind change on what the purpose of this film was?
Do you think this film was successful in achieving its purpose?

Link to activity on Edpuzzle

I really enjoyed creating this activity. It was easy for me, as the teacher, to create. The Edpuzzle platform was very simple to use.
I like this method for this activity because I think it will keep students engaged, as it is interactive. Usually when films are shown in class, teachers may have students take notes or answer a worksheet with questions to make sure the student is following along. However, with Edpuzzle, students can go their own speed and can’t “miss” questions. Since in Edpuzzle the video stops for them, students have the time to really think about their. They can also re-watch parts if they need to.
It can be a great activity to do in class, with students wearing headphones, or would even make a great homework assignment, too.

Metrocosm & Immigration

Here’s Everyone Who’s Immigrated to the U.S. Since 1820

This interactive map shows immigration movement into the US from the rest of the world between the years 1820-2013. It also shows the amount of people entering the US, along with the top 3 countries immigrating at that time. The map runs automatically on a loop, as it goes through the timeline.

I can imagine using this in a history class when discussing the wave of European immigration towards America during the early 1900’s. It provides a great visual for students to be able to see moving parts from other countries to America overtime, and when in history immigration was high and low. This map, particularly, demonstrates nicely the influx of immigrants during the early 1900’s.

To make this a more interactive activity, student could access this map and answer a selection of questions, such as “What were the top three countries immigrating to America during the year 1890?” or “During what years was immigration from Ireland the highest?”. Building on these questions, students could always be asked “Why do you think this was?”, and allow them to think more critically about what is happening in history during this time.

My only complaint about this map is it cannot be paused. Meaning, the timeline just runs on its own and cannot be stopped (at least I could not figure out how to pause it).  It does move rather fast, and students may have a tough time answering questions and looking at the map at the same time. However, the cursor on the timeline can be dragged and moved to where in time you want to see, though it will not pause here, but rather play from where you drag it.

Yet, overall, I think this is a great dynamic visual to help students understand what it means to be a “melting pot” of cultures.

Hot Seat Discussion Technique

Discussion strategy used: “Hot Seat” (found here)

This assignment was used at the end of our Renaissance unit in 8th grade history.

Students were given a list of names of influential individuals during the Renaissance, whom we have discussed in class. Such individuals included Martin Luther, Michelangelo, Lorenzo de Medici, etc. Students were to pick an individual to do more research on and present themselves as this person to the class. They were to introduce themselves and explain how they were influential during the Renaissance. While the rest of class listened, they were directed to take notes on points they think are important, and write down questions that may pop in their heads, something they would like to know more about, to ask after the speaker is done with their introduction.

I was surprised to see how receptive students were to this activity. Most of them seemed to have fun acting like their character while they presented, and students who were listening were enthused to ask questions. I believe it did help that this was for a participation grade, and my class was small with a group of tight-knit students who are very comfortable with one another. The activity did get students talking and discussing Renaissance topics.

This would be an activity I do in the future with the same students, but also with other classes as well. I like to think that the more I did this with students, they would become more comfortable and used to the concept. It is not something I would do every unit, but perhaps a few times during the year, in one variation or another. Variations would depend on the content for that lesson. For example, this Hot Seat can also be adapted to be an “On Trial” activity, in which one person is on trial and the rest of class are the jury asking questions. I can see this taking many forms and look forward to exploring other ways to use this in my future classes.