PLAN:THE HAITIAN POLITICAL CRISIS: WHAT ROLE SHOULD THE U.S. PLAY IN FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS?
By Lisa Prososki, an independent educational consultant and former middle school and high school social studies, English, reading and technology teacher.
Subjects: Social Studies, Government, World Cultures
Estimated Time: Three 50-minute class periods plus additional time for extension activities
Access to photocopies or online versions of the PBS program "Journey to the
Planet Earth." Country Profiles found at:
Once all students arrive in their groups, explain the rules of the game:
Facilitate the game using the guidelines above. When all teams are finished/time
has been called, collect all papers. Have a short class discussion using the questions
from the game. Read each question aloud and ask for volunteers to answer it. Have
students provide as much information as they can for each question. Following
the discussion, ask each team to discuss how many questions they believe they
3. Explain that throughout the next few days students will be learning more about the conflict in Haiti and the role of the United States in this situation. In addition, they will be examining the political issues surrounding U.S. involvement in Haiti and other countries throughout the world. Finally, they will be discussing the role of the United States as a world "watchdog" of sorts and whether or not they support this type of U.S. involvement in other countries.
students to Haiti by giving them a brief overview of the country. The
Web site for the program "Journey to the Planet Earth" includes
Country Profiles and describes Haiti. This can be found by going to
Introduce students to the more direct and specific causes for Aristide's removal
from office by sharing the NewsHour Extra story entitled "Civil Unrest Spreads
Through Island Nation of Haiti." Access the story at
6. Now introduce students to the role of the United States in the Haitian political turmoil. The article "U.S. Mulls Sending Marines to Haiti" available at http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/Haiti_02-27-04.html describes some of the reasons for U.S. involvement in the situation with quotes from Secretary of State Colin Powell as well as President Bush. This article also brings up the point that the United States is already involved in several similar situations, specifically, but not limited to, Iraq and Afghanistan. Next, share the article "President of Haiti Resigns; U.S. Troops Enter Caribbean Nation" available at http://www.pbs.org/newshour/extra/features/Jan_june04/Haiti_3-01.html to illustrate U.S. reaction to the Aristide resignation and outline the planned scope of U.S. involvement in the reorganization of the Haitian government.
7. Use the articles as a springboard for discussion about the role of the United States as a world "watchdog." Many students pose questions such as "Why is the United States always involved in solving the problems of other countries?" or "We have enough problems in our own country, why do we have to be involved in what is happening with the leadership and lives of people living outside of the United States?" when talking about this issue. Lead a classroom discussion about the role of the United States in world politics using questions like:
8. As you facilitate the discussion, many students will have diverse opinions about the role of the United States as a world "watchdog" and "protector." Encourage students to give specific examples to support their opinions throughout this discussion. The more specific information that is generated, the more students will be prepared to complete the research steps needed to present their final ideas. Encourage students to debate their points of view with one another throughout the discussion. Be sure to mediate the discussion, correct inaccuracies, and pose additional questions as the discussion warrants.
9. Once the
class discussion is complete, each student will need to choose a point
of view that he/she supports and write a one page essay about the role
of the United States in the development, reorganization, and maintenance
of foreign governments. Students will need to use reasons, facts, and
examples to illustrate their point of view.
1. Have your
students write a letter that can be sent to a government official. Some
to suggest might be Colin Powell, President Bush, presidential candidate
John Kerry, their local congressional representative, etc. Students should
clearly articulate their point of view. Some questions that might guide
students as they prepare their letters could include:
Once all students have completed their letters, they should get back into the small groups formed in Step 1 and share what they have written. If time permits, allow students to discuss varying points of view in their small groups. Letters should then be mailed or e-mailed to the addressee so students can experience involvement in sharing their political opinions with key decision makers in government.
Take a historical look at U.S. involvement in world politics. Work as a class
to determine key countries where U.S. involvement has resulted in the shaping
or creation of a new government. Create a timeline chronicling America's role
in the formation of these governments. Assign each student to a specific event
Examine current political cartoons related to U.S. involvement in Haiti. Have
students identify the message of each cartoon. Using their own opinions about
the U.S. involvement in Haiti and other countries (Iraq, Afghanistan), have students
work individually or in pairs to create their own political cartoon, complete
4. Invite a local politician or international affairs professor to speak with students about the role of the United States in world politics. Have students prepare questions in advance and ask them when the guest visits the classroom. In addition, encourage students to express why they support or are concerned about U.S. foreign relations. If the guest is a politician, encourage students to make sure he or she explains on a more in-depth level the reasons for U.S. foreign policy.
Author Lisa Prososki is an independent educational consultant who taught middle school and high school social studies, English, reading and technology courses for 12 years. Prososki has worked with PBS TeacherSource and has authored and edited many lesson plans and materials for various PBS programs over the past nine years. In addition to conducting workshops for teachers at various state and national meetings, Prososki works as an editor, creates a wide range of educational and training materials for corporate clients, and has authored one book.
To find out more about opportunities to contribute to this site, contact Leah Clapman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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