The 13 Days of the Cuban Missile Crisis can be difficult to teach. In real life, the crisis ended without many casualties, so the happy ending that occurred disguises the near catastrophe that almost happened. Engaging students in the drama of it all and showing how close we really were to invading Cuba and initiating World War III becomes tricky.
I talk about teaching this product in this video
, but to address this difficulty, this lesson supposes that President Kennedy chose to take the advice of his generals by attacking Cuba on a (fictional) 14th day of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the results of which are devastating. An introductory PowerPoint will inform us that all life on Earth ended abruptly after a full-out nuclear exchange between the US and USSR occurred.
The shattered remains of humanity (your students) will meet in an underground bunker to weigh their options. As the last survivors of the human race, they have decided to demand justice for the massive loss of human life by putting President Kennedy on trial for gross incompetence. To have a fair trial though, they need to closely review the last 13 Days of the (real) Cuban Missile Crisis to see if Kennedy made a sensible decision in attacking Cuba.
To learn about the real 13 Days of the Cuban Missile Crisis, this lesson comes with a DBQ packet. The primary sources included in it are arranged chronologically and review the events of each of the 13 Days. Those sources include copies of letters between heads of the US, Soviet, and Cuban governments, recorded minutes from National Security Council (NSC) meetings, and, as we’ll see during Day 1 of the crisis, transcriptions from audio tapes that President Kennedy secretly recorded in the White House.
The product includes
• An introduction essay contextualizing the DBQ packet (250 words)
• An abridged, chronological, day-by-day account of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Each day’s text averages about 300 words and is a primary source.
• A list of the characters appearing in the DBQ along with their job titles and responsibilities.
• A worksheet (and answer key) for questions aligning to the 13 days
• A (public domain) video of President Kennedy announcing the presence of Missile in Cuba on Day 7
• A PowerPoint for you to introduce the simulation to the class, describe the trial, and a rubric.
Want to teach the Cuban Missile Crisis, but not as a simulation? Check out another lesson I've designed that will teach your students about the 13 Days
Questions? Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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