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Lesson Plan: Updates on Russia's invasion of Ukraine with key historical context between the two nations

March 3, 2022


This lesson provides:

  • the latest developments in Ukraine (we will update it as we have new information)
  • a 30-min video by Real Life Lore via Curiosity Stream which provides historical context into the relationship between Ukraine and Russia as well as Russia’s interest in natural gas belonging to Ukraine
  • two timelines of events including one timeline by Reuters and one by history teacher Kathryn Greene
  • links to Britannica’s biographies on key players
  • additional resources

Start by watching Russian forces advance as fighting intensifies in Ukraine (7 mins, March 2, 2022) and answer these general fact-based questions:

  • Who are some of the individuals or groups of people mentioned in the news summary?
  • What developments are covered?
  • Where does the story take place?
  • When did the events covered take place?
  • Why did the event(s) take place?
  • How do you think the NewsHour’s producers decided who to interview for this story?

Media literacy: Who else do you think should have been interviewed in the story?

If time allows, watch Russian forces bombard targets across Ukraine as official warns ‘worst is yet to come’ (8 mins, March 3, 2022)

Previous stories:

Spilling into streets and city squares, Russian citizens protest the war in Ukraine (10 mins, March 2, 2022). The first 4-mins focuses on Russian citizens protesting Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine. NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff then speaks with Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder of the Silverado Policy Accelerator, a Washington-based think tank, to discuss analysis of the attack.

Five Facts

As of March 3, 2022:

The United Nations overwhelmingly voted to denounce the Russian invasion of Ukraine Wednesday as the week-long war grinds on in the north, east, and south of Ukraine.

The UN also reported that more than 800,000 Ukrainians have fled for surrounding nations.

Meanwhile, Russia said 500 of its troops have been killed, though the numbers are thought to be higher.

Russian citizens by the thousands are protesting the war in Ukraine at great personal risk to themselves as the Putin government cracks down on all kinds of dissent.

And after Vladimir Putin raised Russia’s nuclear alert level on Sunday, the U.S. said Wednesday that it would cancel the test of a nuclear-capable ballistic missile, in the interest of not raising tensions further.

Focus Questions

Here are three resources that provide some background as to why Vladimir Putin’s government decided to invade a sovereign nation.

Video providing background as to why Russia decided to invade Ukraine

Why Russia is invading Ukraine?

Always check your sources! This video is by Real Life Lore via Curiosity Stream. While it is nearly impossible for sources to not have any tilt one or the other, this video is a good example of a source that is aiming to give just the facts and evidence and let you decide what you think. After watching the video, do you think the video did a good job at laying out the facts without leaning too much toward a certain side? Why might a country invade another sovereign nation for natural resources, including natural gas? How could you find out more about this argument?

Biographies on major players in the assault on Ukraine:

Volodymyr Zelensky, president of Ukraine

Vladimir Putin, president of Russia 

Joe Biden, president of the United States

U.N. Security Council 

European Union 

Know your sources! In addition to reading Britannica’s About section on their website, written by individuals who work at the website, check out their Wikipedia page and other places online to find out more about a source.

Did knowing some background of some of the key players help you better understand the attack currently going on against Ukraine? Who else should we provide biographies for?

Timeline of Ukraine and Russia:

Starting in 1991 through Feb. 28, 2022 

This lesson plan by teacher Kathryn Greene gives even greater historical context for Ukraine and includes a timeline going back to medieval times.

Here’s Ms. Green’s latest lesson on Ukraine which uses NewsHour sources among many others.

Know your sources! Why do you think we chose to highlight the timeline by Reuters, a long-established news service similar to the Associated Press (AP)? How can you find out more about this organization? Why do you think Ms. Greene used so many different sources for just one lesson plan?

Final focus question: How does knowing some historical context help you better understand the current situation in Ukraine and why Russia invaded this sovereign country? What did you learn that you didn’t know before? What questions do you have? How could you start to figure out the answers to them?

For More

PBS NewsHour daily news lesson (March 2, 2022): Ukrainian parents living amid war discuss the struggle to keep their families safe

PBS NewsHour daily news lesson (Feb. 28, 2022): How Europe is responding to a flood of Ukrainian refugees

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