The Insurgency

Lesson Plan

"The Insurgency in Iraq: A Quandary for the United States"

Lesson Objectives:

Students will:

Materials Needed:

Time Needed:


Opening Activity:

Write the following statements on the board:

  1. The longer U.S. troops stay in Iraq, the more the insurgent attacks will continue.
  2. The more the insurgent attacks continue, the longer U.S. troops will have to stay in Iraq.

Divide the class into two large groups and assign one half of the class the first sentence and the other half the second sentence. Then divide each large group into discussion groups of three students. Have each group of three do the following:

Main Activity: Policy Debate

  1. Tell students they will be having a policy debate on the timing of an exit strategy for U.S. troops in Iraq.
  2. Have students choose one of the following statements for debate:

    • The U.S. military should end its occupation of Iraq at the earliest possible moment.
    • The U.S. military should stay in Iraq until the insurgency has been defeated and Iraq is able to govern itself.
  3. Divide the class into four large groups: advocates for leaving Iraq quickly, advocates against leaving Iraq quickly, and two groups of policymakers. The two advocate groups should be even in size, so if necessary, ask students to be in the policymaker group to balance the advocate groups' numbers.
  4. Distribute the "Advocate Planning Guide" to each advocate and the "Policymaker Planning Guide" to each policymaker.
  5. Distribute to all students the following three articles or assign the reading as homework:

  6. Instruct students to identify the sources of their information as they develop arguments to support their position during the debate. If necessary, students can go to other sources for more information as time allows.
  7. Students in both groups of advocates should complete their planning guides individually or with another student taking the same position. Policymakers should complete only Section 1 of their planning guides. They will complete the remainder after the debate.
  8. Once students have completed their planning guides, have them meet in their large groups to share and discuss the information they have collected. The two advocate groups should meet separately to determine their best arguments and review evidence to support their respective positions.
  9. The two policymaker groups should meet together and determine their best questions for Part 1 of the planning guide.
  10. After students have had a chance to discuss and review their ideas, form small debate groups composed of an advocate for each side of the question and two policymakers. In some groups you might have more than two policymakers. Spread the student groups around the classroom to reduce distractions.
  11. Explain the debate format below to all groups. (This is also found at the end of their planning guides.)

    • Part I

      • The Advocate For should begin by presenting and defending his or her position on the issue. (10 minutes)
      • During this time the Advocate Against should listen, but may not speak. He or she can write notes if necessary. The policymaker may ask questions at any time.
      • Then the Advocate Against explains and defends his or her position on the issue. (10 minutes -- same rules as above)
    • Part II

      • In the last 10 minutes, each advocate group may refute the arguments made by the other side, one point at a time. The policymakers should moderate this so that each advocate group takes a turn rebutting the other side's points. The policymaker can also ask questions during this time to either advocate.
      • Following the debate, the policymakers should complete their planning guides. (This can be done as a homework assignment.)
    • Part III

      • Policymakers announce their decisions.
      • Debrief the activity by asking the student debate groups the following questions:

        1. Which arguments by each side were the strongest? Which arguments were the weakest? Why?
        2. Which ones were best supported with evidence and most convincing?
        3. Which issues are at the center of the controversy? Which issues are in conflict?
        4. How can the groups achieve consensus on this issue? What would such a policy look like?

Conclude this activity by asking students to write a newspaper editorial or letter to the editor explaining their views on the best exit strategy for U.S. troops in Iraq. The editorial should take a position on the issue; provide reasons and specific supporting evidence; identify the points of the opposing position and state reasons to reject this position; and include a short closing that restates the initial position and summarizes the reasons for supporting it.

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