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Lesson Plans on famous individuals and moments in history
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg: The First Civilians Executed for Espionage in the United States
This lesson will explore the case of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were executed for espionage in 1953. Students will learn about the historical context of the Cold War, the charges against the Rosenbergs, and the controversy surrounding their trial and execution. By the end of the lesson, students will be able to analyze primary sources, evaluate historical arguments, and make connections between past events and contemporary issues.
- Know the historical context of the Cold War and the Red Scare
- Understand the charges against Julius and Ethel Rosenberg
- Analyze primary sources related to the Rosenberg case
- Evaluate historical arguments about the guilt or innocence of the Rosenbergs
- Make connections between past events and contemporary issues related to national security and civil liberties
This lesson will use a combination of lecture, discussion, and primary source analysis. Students will read and analyze primary sources related to the Rosenberg case, including court transcripts, FBI reports, and contemporary news articles. They will also engage in small group discussions and a class debate about the guilt or innocence of the Rosenbergs. The lesson will conclude with a reflection activity in which students will write a letter to the editor of a newspaper, expressing their opinion about the Rosenberg case and its relevance to contemporary issues.
- Primary sources related to the Rosenberg case (court transcripts, FBI reports, news articles)
- Whiteboard and markers
- Handouts for small group discussions and debate
- Writing prompts for reflection activity
- Introduction to the historical context of the Cold War and the Red Scare (lecture and discussion)
- Reading and analysis of primary sources related to the Rosenberg case (small group activity)
- Class debate about the guilt or innocence of the Rosenbergs (whole class activity)
- Reflection activity: Writing a letter to the editor about the Rosenberg case and its relevance to contemporary issues (individual activity)
This lesson plan is compliant with the Common Core State Standards for History/Social Studies (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.1-10) and the National Council for the Social Studies C3 Framework for Social Studies State Standards.