Teacher's Guide: Hints for the Active Learning Questions
Before beginning this activity, you may want to have students bring crossword puzzles to class so you can discuss as a class how to create them, how to write clues, and so on. Explain to students that the clues should be challenging but not obscure.
Alternatively, you might want to divide the class into three groups -- one for 1948, one for 1961, and one for 1989 -- and have each group give a multimedia presentation to the class on what life in the United States was like in its assigned year.
Explain to students that the question of whether the Soviet Union was more of an aggressive power or a defensive one was one of the main issues that Western analysts debated during the Cold War. Ask students why this question was so important.
The present-day countries include: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. Point out to students that certain countries have disappeared since the end of the Cold War (such as Czechoslovakia), while other countries have gained their independence (such as Ukraine).
Students may want to choose one of the countries included in the newspaper samples, such as Israel or India. Basic historical background on individual countries can be found at the CIA's World Factbook. (Given that the Berlin crisis took place just three years after the end of World War II, students may also want to consult histories of that conflict to see how it affected their chosen country.) To get students started, you might select one country as an example and discuss how the Berlin crisis might have looked to its citizens. For example, might a country in Latin America, which has experienced U.S. intervention, be tempted to regard Truman's Berlin policy as another example of U.S. imperialism?
One way to introduce this activity would be to ask students to bring in recent newspaper stories about U.S. involvement in Iraq -- stories of military action as well as of U.S. efforts to promote rebuilding and reconciliation in the country -- and ask students whether these two kinds of activities appear consistent with one another.
To give students a brief idea of how Truman spoke and thought, you may want to read them excerpts from Truman's published writings, such as his autobiography or his letters to his wife Bess.
It might be helpful to review with students the basic facts and chronology of the U.S. invasion of Iraq before beginning this activity. (The BBC, for example, has a timeline of events in Iraq both before and after the U.S. invasion.) You may also want to have students bring recent news stories concerning Iraq to class to support their viewpoints on the war.