To understand how events in the 1920s and 1930s led to the outbreak of the Second World War.
2 and 1/2 class periods
In this activity, students pretend it is September 1941 and they are Franklin D. Roosevelt. World War II has been raging in Europe for two years. The United States has not yet entered the war, choosing instead to remain neutral.
The many German victories particularly worry Americans, who wonder what might happen if all of Europe is conquered. Some people fear that Germany might then attack the United States.
Each student (pretending to be President Franklin D. Roosevelt) has just concluded an emergency meeting with Cabinet members, and has decided to make a major radio address to the nation. Class members will write a 4-part speech based on information on a timeline that summarizes important world events between 1919 and 1941.
The speech criteria are as follows:
(1) A description of steps taken to keep peace in the world following World War I.
(2) Reasons why World War II began.
(3) A description of the present war situation after two years of fighting.
(4) The student's decision whether or not the United States should enter the war at this time (September 1941), including reasons for their decision.
Help the class get started. Give class members the rest of the period to work on their speeches. I ask my students to complete the introductory paragraph and part 1 by the next class period.
Students can then continue with parts 2-4 of their speeches on the second day. The assignment should be finished by Day 3. At that time, you can ask one or two volunteers to read their speeches to the class.
Complete Teacher Instructions are included, along with a 20-question follow up quiz to measure student progress. The quiz can also be given as a homework assignment.