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Cartooning the Collapse of the Soviet Union

Grade Level: 10th grade, American History

Historical Thinking
Content Statements:
Historians develop theses and use evidence to support or refute positions.
Historians analyze cause, effect, sequence, and correlation in historical events, including multiple causation and long- and short-term causal relations.

Topic: Cold War

Content Statement:
The collapse of communist governments in Eastern Europe and the U.S.S.R. brought an end to the
Cold War

NSS-USH.9-12.10 Era 10: Contemporary United States (1968- Present)
• Understands recent developments in foreign and domestic politics
• Understands economic, social, and cultural developments in contemporary United

Estimate duration of lesson: 1 class period

Learning objectives:
• The students will understand the events and issues leading to the collapse of the
Soviet Union
• The students will be able to use a collection of primary sources to analyze a historic
event and reach a conclusion.
ue: August 15, 2011

Complete summary of the lesson:
Students will examine political cartoons from 1979- 1990 and analyze the events and issues
leading up to the collapse of the USSR.

Provide a pre-assessment/diagnostic and a scoring guideline:
Display the 1979 cartoon “See No…Hear No… Speak No…” and use the Cartoon Analysis
worksheet to discuss the cartoon as a class to establish the state of the USSR in 1979.
Students should understand the limits of citizen rights for Soviet citizens and the
relationship between the USSR and Western countries.

Describe the instructional steps to implement the lesson
1. Lead students in discussion and analysis of the 1979 cartoon “See No… Hear No… Speak
2. Create groups of 3 students and give each group 1 cartoon. Each group should have a
cartoon from a different year- ranging from 1980- 1990.
3. Groups analyze their cartoon using the Cartoon Analysis worksheet. They should
understand the message and issues facing the USSR in their cartoon.
4. Create new groups of students containing 1 member from each of the previous groups.
New groups should contain a member who has seen each cartoon.
5. Students present the message/issues of their cartoon to their group in the sequential
order of the cartoons examined.
6. As a group, students create a list of issues or problems that led to the collapse of the
7. Groups share their lists of causes and problems with the whole class to create a class
8. Provide a post-assessment and its scoring guideline
Students write an essay answering the following:
Using evidence from the political cartoons, describe the causes for the collapse of the Soviet
See rubric for scoring guideline
9. List materials needed by teachers:
A variety of cartoons from 1979- 1990 related to the USSR
Overhead protector or projector & screen to display images
Cartoon Analysis worksheet
ue: August 15, 2011
*optional- large post it papers or butcher paper for groups to combine thoughts (Step 6 in
instructions). You could also just have the students read their answers and write them on
the board or computer.
10. List any materials needed by students:
Pen or Pencil
11. Extension activities:
Students can find cartoons following the collapse of the USSR and see the changes and
issues facing the new country.
Students can research and compare and contrast the problems that Russia faced after the
collapse to the state of Russia today.
Students could research leaders depicted in the cartoons and their role in the breakup of
the USSR.
Students can find and analyze political cartoons related to Russia today.
12. List of cartoons and other primary sources.