Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum


Why Am I Here?...Truman's Decision To Drop The Atomic Bomb
Author:
Tim Gallagher
Course:
US History
Time Frame:
2-3 days
Subjects:
Atomic Bomb
,
World War II

Grade Levels:
10, 11, 12

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:

This lesson will allow students to reflect in relation to how events in history have a direct impact on their existence.  I will be the subject of exploration.  (My dad was a Marine during WWII.  He was island hopping toward a possible Japanese invasion.  Had there been an invasion...would I be here today???)  Through cooperative learning and interaction...students will examine how our past can have a real impact on our existence.    This lesson will incorporate technology (the use of the internet) and various primary and secondary sources.  And, this lesson will challenge students with an individual assignment that will allow each student to evaluate...Why Am I Here???...and...how might current events impact me directly in the future???

Rationale:

I am utilizing this lesson to challenge students to go beyond just reading about history.  I would like to see students investigating history to see how it has a direct bearing on their lives.  Additionally, I would like to provide students with a real life example so that they can continue to see the importance of history...on our lives.

District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met:


-Iowa Common Core:  SS.09-12.H.01 and MISIC Code:  SS.09-12.02.02

                        - Identify and analyze characteristics, causes, and consequences of an event,                               issue or problem.

            -Iowa Common Core:  SS.09-12.H.01 and MISIC Code:  SS.09-12.02.03

                        -Analyze and evaluate the historical backgrounds which have led to

                        the present day civilizations.

            -Iowa Common Core:  SS.09-12.H.01 and MISIC Code:  SS.09-12.02.04

                        -Systematically employ critical inquiry to analyze and interpret the past.

            -Iowa Common Core:  SS.09-12.H.02 and MISIC Code:  SS.09-12.02.02

                        -Identify and analyze characteristics, causes and consequences of an event,

                        issue or problem. Explain the major historical events that occurred during

                        a time period.

            -Iowa Common Core:  SS.09-12.H.02 and MISIC Code:  SS.09-12.02.03

                        -Analyze and evaluate the historical backgrounds which have led to the

                        present day civilizations. Analyze patterns historians utilize.

            -Iowa Common Core:  SS.09-12.H.02 and MISIC Code:  SS.09-12.02.04

                        -Systematically employ critical inquiry to analyze and interpret the past.

                        Analyze the ways in which a society deals with the introduction or influence

                        of another society's culture.

            -Iowa Common Core:  SS.09-12.H.04 and MISIC Code:  SS.09-12.02.03

                        -Analyze and evaluate the historical backgrounds which have led to the

                        present day civilizations.  Analyze the actions of individuals and groups in

                        the development of historical events.  Identify significant individuals who have

                        affected historical development in positive or negative ways.

            -Iowa Common Core:  SS.09-12.H.08 and MISIC Code:  SS.09-12.02.05

                        -Analyze and explain how historical backgrounds have led to the present

                        developments of various systems of government.

            *MISIC=Mid Iowa School Improvement Consortium

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:

-Textbook:  The Americans (Unit on World War II will be examined prior to and following              this lesson).

            -Video Clips from the internet...in relation to the dropping of the atomic bomb...found

            by students (We have a one on one computer program at our school...I like for students

            to search for and investigate sites relating to what we are examining).

            -Notes from the 7-14-2015 presentation of Richard Franks at the 12th Annual Truman

            Library Teachers Conference.  (These notes were collected by Tim Gallagher...an

            attendee at the conference.

            -The book Downfall by Richard Frank.  Parts of chapters 16-18 will be shared

            (depending of student discussion and questions)

            -Newspaper clips of the dropping of the Atomic Bomb displayed at the Truman Museum

            (News pictures that have been blown up so that they can be visually examined)

            -A picture (that can be blown up to be visually examined) of the timeline involved with

            regard to the dropping of the Atomic Bomb.  This picture was taken at the Truman

            Museum.

Primary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:

-CSPAN Video of Richard Frank discussing his book Downfall...Filmed 7-14-2015

            -Pictures found in the Truman Museum relating to the dropping of the Atomic Bomb.

            -Pictures of artifacts in the Truman Museum relating to the dropping of the Atomic Bomb.

            -Pictures of letters in the Truman Museum relating to the dropping of the Atomic Bomb.

           -Website for the Truman institute...Teacher Resource Links- Atomic Bomb (The Decision

            to Drop the Bomb page).  These are all notes and letters.

                        -Henry Stimson to Harry S. Truman, April 24, 1945

                        -Diary Entries, June 1, 1945

                        -Petition to the President of the United States, July 17, 1945

                        -Henry Stimson to Harry S. Truman, with handwritten Truman reply on reverse,

                        July 30, 1945

                        -Draft of statement on the dropping of the bomb, July 30, 1945

                        -Henry Stimson to Harry S. Truman with attached draft press release, July 31,

                        1945

                        -Press release by the White House, August 6, 1945

                        -Translation of leaflet dropped on the Japanese, August 6, 1945

                        -Telegram, Richard Russell to Harry S. Truman, August 7, 1945

                        -Correspondence between Harry S. Truman and Samuel Cavert, August 11, 1945

Full description of activity or assignment.

-Day One:       My students and I will read about the decision of the U.S. to drop the                                              atomic bomb.  We will discuss various resources that will be made                                                 available.  We will then evaluate the significance of this decision...and...

                                    look at consequences and impact.

 

                                    Following the review of several secondary reading resources...

                                   I will have students utilize primary sources in groups of 3.   I will have                                              students examine these resources and evaluate how the decision was                                            made to drop the atomic bomb (We have a 1 to 1 computer school...so                                            each student will have access to the sites and documents).  I will have                                            each group discuss the merits of the decision.  Following this, I will have                                        each group share their insights in relation to why the decision was made                                         to drop the bomb with the whole class.

 

                                    In groups, I will then have students create a position in

                                    relation what they would have done and why.

 

                                    We will then again share and process group responses and debate the                                           merit of the group decisions.

 

            -Day Two:       Reflecting upon the title of this lesson...Why Am I Here??? (I will tie in day                                     one's lesson to the realities of me)

                                    I will then have students discuss how decisions of the past have a

                                    real impact on our lives.

 

                                    We will then log on to the NET to Examine "current events".  The                                                    focus...How will what is going on today potentially directly impact your                                           lives.  As a springboard to our NET investigations, I will have students

                                    read about current topics that are being highlighted by the press.

 

                                    I will have students complete an essay describing an event

                                    taking place presently...and...I will have them evaluate how it may impact                                      their lives in the near and long term future.  I will also ask them to create

                                    two questions for which they would like the answer.

 

            -Day Three:     I will have students share their topics and essays and discuss the impact                                        that history (or events in history) might have in our lives in the future.  I

                                   will allow student questions and interaction following each presentation.

                                    This time will allow for students to generate further learning and further

                                    questions to investigate.

 

                                    I will then, wrap up this lesson by coming back to the decision by

                                    President Truman years ago.  Here I Am!  :-). (Share Oppenheimer quote)

 

                                    I will follow this up with an evaluation of this lesson/activity.   A focus of

                                    this evaluation will center upon student understanding in relation to how

                                    decisions in history can directly impact our lives today.

Full explanation of the assessment method and/or scoring guide:

This lesson is part of a larger unit on WWII...I will use this lesson to assist with the

             transition to the impact of decisions made during the Cold War.

            -I will utilize an essay...as described on day two above.

            -I will incorporate elements of this lesson into a future test.  Essay questions will be

            used to allow students to share with me what they have learned and how they intend

            to apply this knowledge.

            -Objective evaluation...I will observe students as they grasp the focus of this lesson                       during groups and investigation sessions...are they getting it?  Based on listening to and               watching students I will be able to evaluate the learning taking place.

            -Additionally, student evaluation feedback will give me insights about the effectiveness of

            this activity...and the learning that has taken place.