Examining Crucial Events in Modern American History: Atomic Memories


District: Capital Region BOCES
School/District Representative: Steve Janover
SLO Project Name: Examining Crucial Events in Modern American History: Atomic Memories
Authored by: Steve Janover
E-mail: sjanover@gw.neric.org
Homepage address: www2.neric.org/capboces/slohp/atomic
Grade Level(s): 11
Subject Area(s): American History, English
Learning context:
    Actual Learning Standards Referenced:

NYS Common Core Learning Standards

Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects 6–12

9-10.WHST.6 - Production and Distribution of Writing

6. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology’s capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically.

11-12.WHST.6 - Production and Distribution of Writing

6. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products in response to ongoing feedback, including new arguments or information.

Writing Standards 6-12

11-12.W.6 = Production and Distribution of Writing

6. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products in response to ongoing feedback, including new arguments or information.

Reading Standards for Informational Text 6-12

11-12.RIT.7 - Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

7. Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.


NY State Learning Standards (Old)

Social Studies - Standard 1 - History of the United States and New York (Commencement)  Student will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of major ideas, eras, themes, developments, and turning points in the history of the United States and New York.

4. The skills of historical analysis include the ability to explain the significance of historical evidence; weigh the importance, reliability, and validity of evidence; understand the concept of multiple causation; understand the importance of changing and competing interpretations of different historical developments.

Social Studies - Standard 2 - World History (Commencement)
Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of major ideas, eras, themes, developments, and turning points in world history and examine the broad sweep of history from a variety of perspectives.

4. The skills of historical analysis include the ability to investigate differing and competing interpretations of the theories of history, hypothesize about why interpretations change over time, explain the importance of historical evidence, and understand the concepts of change and continuity over time. 

    Performance Indicators

(SS Standard 1)

* consider different historians' analyses of the same event or development in United States history to understand how different viewpoints and/or frames of reference influence historical interpretations.

* evaluate the validity and credibility of historical interpretations of important events or issues in New York State or United States history, revisiting these interpretations as new information is learned and other interpretations are developed.

(SS Standard 2)

* interpret and analyze documents and artifacts related to significant developments and events in world history.

* analyze different interpretations of important events, issues, or developments in world history by studying the social, political, and economic context in which they were developed; by testing the data source for reliability and validity, credibility, authority, authentication, and completeness; and by detecting bias, distortion of the facts, and propaganda by omission, suppression, or invention of facts.

English Language Arts - Standard 1 - Language for Information and Understanding (Commencement)  Students will read, write, listen and speak for information and understanding.

Speaking and Writing

2. Speaking and Writing to acquire and transmit information requires asking probing and clarifying questions, interpreting information in one's own words, applying information from one context to another, and presenting the information and interpretation clearly, concisely, and comprehensibly.

English Language Arts - Standard 3 - Language for Critical Analysis and Evaluation (Commencement)  Students will read, write, listen and speak for critical analysis and evaluation.

Speaking and Writing

2. Speaking and writing for critical analysis and evaluation requires presenting opinions and judgments on experiences, ideas, information, and issues clearly, logically, and persuasively with reference to specific criteria on which the opinion or judgment is based.

    Performance Indicators:

(ELA Standard 1 )

* write and present research reports, feature articles, and thesis/support papers on a variety of topics related to all school subjects.
* support interpretations and decisions about relative significance of information with explicit statement, evidence and appropriate argument.
* use standard English skillfully, applying established rules and conventions for presenting information and making use of a wide range of grammatical constructions and vocabulary to achieve an individual style that communicates effectively.

(ELA Standard 3)

* present orally and in writing well-developed analyses of issues, ideas, and texts, explaining the rationale for their positions and analyzing their positions from a variety of perspectives in such forms as formal speeches, debates, thesis/support papers, literary critiques, and issues analyses.
* use Standard English, a broad and precise vocabulary, and the conventions of formal oratory and debate.

Assessments:

1) Successful completion of five page research paper.
2) Completion of Site Evaluation Checklist for every website cited in research paper.
3) Take
online quiz.

Student Outcomes (Exemplars):

1) Student develops a coherent "point of view" in his/her research paper based on the material and information provided by cited websites.
2) Pupil uses outline info provided in "Site Evaluation Worksheet" to evaluate web materials for accuracy, authority, bias, currency, and validity.
3) Students will be knowledgeable about an important and controversial historical event.  
4) Students should be able to apply the procedures and methodology learned in this inquiry to other topics in history and in other subject areas.

Procedure:
    Specific inquiry/activity:

On August 6, 1945 and August 9, 1945 the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Over 50 years have elapsed since these events took place and today historians are still divided on whether it was necessary to use these weapons.  This web-based inquiry is designed for 11th year American History and English classes and utilizes select WWW sources.  The end assignment of the inquiry asks the student to write a five page research paper on whether it was necessary or unnecessary to use the atomic bomb on Japan in WW II.

The student must cite any web sources used and follow the rules for writing standard English.  Additionally, the student is required to answer a Site Evaluation Worksheet for every website cited in the research paper.  A minimum of five different web sites must be utilized and cited.  Students should be familiar with using a web browser, word processing software, citing Internet sources, and writing a research paper.

The inquiry is designed to be conducted over the course of eight 45 minute class periods.  Students have five days to write the research paper outside of class time.  

Period 1 - The teacher introduces the topic and surveys both sides of the issue using primary and secondary source materials.

Period 2 - Review of procedures for citing Internet sources and the format for writing a research paper.

Period 3 - Overview of evaluating web materials and instruction on utilizing the "Site Evaluation Worksheet" and survey of web resources on the topic.

Periods 4,5,6,7 -  Students perform web-inquiry in computer lab or library.  Besides taking notes on the various sites visited, students also need to fill-out "Site Evaluation Worksheets" during this time.  Additionally, students should answer a ten question online quiz.

After Period 7, students have a week to complete the research paper on their own time.

Period 8 - (Post inquiry discussion)  Summary of student findings and review of "Site Evaluation Worksheets."  Discussion on how the skills and techniques utilized in this activity can be applied to other topics and subject areas. 

Instructional Modifications: large typeface display for visually impaired students may be used.

Time Required: 6 hours

Resources (materials):
    Web sites utilized: 
           
A -Bomb WWW Museum 
            Atomic Archive
            Atomic Bomb Decision
            Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb  
            Enola Gay and the Atomic Bomb       
            Hiroshima and the Atomic Bomb
            Hiroshima: Was it Necessary
            Remembering Nagasaki
            Seattle Times Trinity Web
   
         The Manhattan Project
           
US Nuclear Weapons Cost Study

Reflections:

This inquiry can be adapted to many different topics in history and also reworked for other curricular areas.