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Political History of 20th Century Europe

Produced by Rick Garcia, Granada Hills High School, 1997

  1. This unit is meant to be an introduction to either a Twentieth Century European History class or the beginning of that part of a World History class that deals with twentieth century Europe.
  2. With their knowledge of U.S. History, the students will be able to see that the major events of Europe in this century went hand in hand with the major events of the United States. In other words, the path of America was part of a Global path. We are not alone.
  3. The map assignments are also meant to be an exercise in Cause and Effect. The students are to be able to see how the major events like World War I or the end of the Cold War left its aftermath on the political borders of Europe. The other factors such as the rise of fascism, the failure of communism, and the lethal ethnic/religious rivalries will be filled in with greater detail during the course of the semester.
  4. I deliberately went from maps that represent thousands of miles to a short story that involves the short ride of a bus to give the feel of a satellite video shot: from birds eye view [the maps] to a close up snapshot of one tiny point of that area [the short story].

Maps of Europe--Objectives:

  1. Students will identify the major changes in the political borders of Europe throughout the 20th Century.
  2. Students will understand the causes for those changes and the ramifications of those changes.
  3. Students are to receive an introductory overview of the social and political history twentieth century Europe by doing this map assignment.
  4. Students will develop a sense of cooperative learning [as cooperative learning will be used in the class throughout the year].
  5. Students are to become familiar with using the index, maps, boldface subsection titles, and the table of contents of the textbook.

Day One:

  1. Students will be placed into groups of four. But as this will be the first Group Activity of the semester, the teacher will model how students are to quitely assemble their desks and themselves for this and all future group activities.
  2. Once in their groups, four maps and a list of countries will be given to each group. There will be a map for each of the following years: 1914, 1934, 1954, and 1994. [Attached is an example of one of those maps.]
  3. Students are to neatly print the names of the various European countries [see attached list of European countries] within the appropriate borders of each map. All 4 maps are due at the end of the period from each group.

Day Two:

  1. Reassemble the students in their groups of four.
  2. Return the maps from the previous day to the appropriate group as well as crayons and/or colored markers.
  3. [a]Students are to color in the various countries and bodies of water. However, the following countries MUST use certain colors on all maps they are in: Russia/USSR [Red], France [Pink], Germany/West Germany [Black], Switzerland [Yellow], Spain [Purple].
    [b]All Communist countries are to be outlined in RED [no matter what color was used to color in that country].
  4. All maps are to be done and turned in by the end of the period.
  5. When a group is finished with all 4 maps, the group is to write a DEBRIEFING STATEMENT. The Debriefing Statement is to include 4 developments they noticed when making the maps of the 4 eras.
  6. All maps and the Debriefing Statement are due at the end of the period. They are to be stapled together with the names of each student in the group on all maps and the Debriefing Statement.

Day Three:

  1. Reassemble into groups and pass back maps/Debriefing Statements.
  2. Conduct informal Q & A with the class regarding their Debriefing Statements to get them refocused on the previous day's work.
  3. Pass out worksheets [see attached copy of worksheet] to every student.
  4. Students are to collaborate with their 'group-mates' to answer the questions on the Worksheet. They are to use their maps and textbooks to answer the questions.
  5. The teacher is to model the answering of one of the questions by showing students how the index, table of contents, and BOLDFACE subsection titles can be used to track down an answer.
  6. The assignment is due at the end of the period. Each student is to turn in his own worksheet.

Communism: In Theory/In Practice--Objectives:

  1. Students will know the basic tenets of communist theory.
  2. Students will be able to identify key terms of communist theory.
  3. Students will understand the use of literature/art to criticize a government and/or a society, as well as using literature/art to provide a grassroots feel for the life of the common person in that society.

Day Four:

  1. Students are to start their 'Terms' notebook. Throughout the semester, students will be writing down key terms and their definition from the chalkboard as a kind of warm up exercise. These definitions will not be dictionary definitions but the teacher's simplified explanations of a word or phrase. Today's terms will be the following: Karl Marx, Proletariat, Bourgeoise, Class Struggle [haves and have nots], Exploitation, Utopia, and the Communist Manifesto. [example of term definition: Proletariat--the working class; people who do hard work in factories as non-skilled or semi-skilled labores for low pay.]
  2. At the end of the Warm Up, the teacher is to lead the class in a discussion about what they do/acquire to help them feel 'happy,' content or fulfilled; and what they hope to do/acquire/accomplish in the future to lead a 'happy' or fulfilling life.
  3. At the end of the discussion, each student is to receive a photocopy of a textbook's summary of the main ideas behind Communism [See attached copy]. We will read this together, discussing key points along the way, and contrasting Marx's ideas with the student's ideas about 'happiness' and what makes for a fulfilling life.
  4. Pass out "Theory of Communism" worksheet to each student [see attached]. They are to use their new terms and the handout the class read in class to answer the questions. To be finished for Homework.

Day Five:

  1. Correct "Theory of Communism" homework assignment at the beginning of class. This will serve as a review and warm-up session.
  2. After correcting the homework, have students open up their textbook to the current map of Europe. Have them find the country of Romania. Have them say what kind of society Romania probably had based on their map exercises.
  3. They should be able to remember or guess that it became a communist country after World War II due to the Soviet Union. And they should also know, or guess, that by 1994 it became a 'free' country after the fall of communism in Russia. Inform the students that we will be reading a very short story by a Romanian writer to get a feel for what life was like in a communist country.
  4. Pass out copies of the Romanian short story, "A Common Path," by Gabriela Adamesteanu to each student. [I didn't feel a need to attach a copy of it as it was in our ISOP notebook of reading material].
  5. This story will be read out loud in class, stopping here and there to discuss or point out symbolism, irony, etc. At the conclusion of this story, teacher will lead a class discussion on how life for this woman and her family in Communist Romania compares with what Marx said a communist society would be like.
  6. Pass out work sheet [see attached] for students to do. The questions are meant to show the contradiction between the ideal communist society and what the people were stuck with in Romania. They are to finish it for homework.

Center for European and Eurasian Studies