Churchill and America Lesson Plans

Churchill and America

NEH Summer Institute at Ashland University

Sunday, July 23 to Saturday, August 5, 2006

John M. Ashbrook Center for Public AffairsThe Churchill CenterThe National Endowment for the HumanitiesNEH We the People

In summer 2006, 28 teachers attended the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute “Churchill and America” co-sponsored by The Churchill Centre, Washington, D.C. and the Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs in Ashland, Ohio. During the two-week program teachers from across the country developed plans for bringing Winston Churchill into their classrooms.

These lessons are the personal responses of teachers who attended the Institute. Teachers designed the lessons for their own classrooms, often adding to curricula they already use. Decisions on using these lessons remain the responsibility of individual teachers.

Course and Level reflect the audience teachers had in mind when planning their lessons. Material may be adapted for other courses and grades.

  • The Path to World War II
    • The “Wooing” of America: Winston Churchill and the Strengthening of Anglo-American Relations, 1938-1941
      by Robert B. Patrick, Northrop, MN
      Course: U.S. History/AP European History
      Level: Grades 11 or 12
      Synopsis: By studying three speeches of Winston Churchill, students will analyze Churchill’s attempt to persuade the Americans of the threat posed by Hitler and his Nazi regime and the need for the Americans to abandon their isolationist policy.
    • From Isolationism to Interventionism: America’s Entry into World War II
      by Mark Baker, Zanesville, OH
      Course: U.S. or World History
      Level: Grades 9-12
      Synopsis: This lesson plan examines American isolationism and the shift from isolationism to intervention to help the British before Pearl Harbor.
    • U.S. Foreign Policy Before Pearl Harbor
      by Nancy Collins, Scarsdale, NY
      Course: U.S. or World History
      Level: Grades 6-8
      Synopsis: The purpose of this lesson is to allow students to examine primary documents that include newsreels, radio broadcasts, drafted speeches, and political cartoons in order to analyze the American decision to stay out of the war until December of 1941. The lesson is broken into an analysis of ten documents. (Associated Worksheets)
  • World War II
    • Churchill’s Wartime Speeches: 1940-41
      by Jannette R. Milligan, Worthington, OH
      Course: Any history course covering World War II
      Level: Grades 9-12
      Synopsis: The lesson will provide students the opportunity to learn about the time period from May 10, 1940 to June 21, 1941, to read several of Winston Churchill’s speeches from this time period, to discuss the context of these speeches, and to analyze their importance in contributing to the formation of a national British consensus to continue to fight the Germans.
    • Major Issues and Figures of World War II
      by Nicole R. Pauly, Kenmore, NY
      Course: U. S. History
      Level: Middle School
      Synopsis: This lesson would be taught in the first three days of the unit on World War II. The historical issues that will be discussed are the major leaders of the World War II era, appeasement, and the Lend Lease Act. The activities developed in this lesson plan are to be used with either average children or special education children in a resource room setting. (Additional Resources)
    • Franklin & Winston: And So To War
      by John Baran, Charlottesville, VA
      Course: U. S. History
      Level: Grades 10-12
      Synopsis: This lesson is intended to compare and contrast the justifications that led to British (1939) and American (1941) involvement in World War II. It can be used as a stand alone lesson or as a supplement to a lesson outlining the origins of World War II, and is designed to fit into an overall unit on the study of World War II. Students will be asked to read two famous speeches and answer questions, discuss the speeches, work collaboratively in groups answering open-ended questions about the justifications of war, and write a response to a prompt. (Associated Worksheets)
    • Churchill and Dresden
      by Jim Goodspeed, Middleton, MI
      Course: U. S. or World History
      Level: Grades 9-12
      Synopsis: This lesson examines the bombing of Dresden in February 1945 and Winston Churchill’s position on the bombing of this east German city. How was this bombing viewed by Churchill in 1945? Why was the bombing of this city so controversial? This activity includes: personal study, small group work and primary source material in the form of pictures, political cartoons, and a Churchill telegram.
    • Yalta and the Post-War World
      by Pete Schlieker, Big Pine, CA
      Course: World History
      Level: Grade 10
      Synopsis: How and why was Europe divided after World War II? The Yalta Conference brought Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin together to decide the fate of Europe after Germany’s surrender. Students will compare and contrast the perspectives of the three war leaders.
    • World War II Meetings of FDR and Churchill
      by Robert Stout, Houston, TX
      Course: U.S. or World History
      Level: High School Special Education
      Synopsis: President Franklin Roosevelt of the United States and Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Great Britain met numerous times during World War II. Some of these meetings included Joseph Stalin of Russia. During this lesson, we will be looking at selected meetings, examining the agenda of each leader and analyzing the results.
  • Post-World War II
    • Churchill and Nuclear War
      by Randall Strunk, Champaign, IL
      Course: U.S. or World History
      Level: Grades 9-12
      Synopsis: Students explore the difficulties of cold war diplomacy with the advent of nuclear weapons. Students understand the benefits and perils of nuclear armament through several progressive speeches by Winston Churchill. They experience cold war diplomacy in a classroom game. Assessment is accomplished through the use of an essay question.
    • “The Sinews of Peace” and the Cold War
      by Amanda S. Rowcliffe, Knoxville, TN
      Course: U.S. or World History
      Level: Grades 9-12
      Synopsis: This lesson plan is a study of Winston Churchill’s “Sinews of Peace” speech (also known as “The Iron Curtain Speech”) and its influence in terms of ideas and language on later speeches given during the Cold War. It is focused on an analysis of primary sources that reflect the language and ideas of the Cold War and would give students an opportunity to discuss their thoughts on the events and the language in the documents. It is designed to develop critical thinking skills, group discussion, and written expression. (PowerPoint Presentation, Student Packet)
  • Churchill, Leadership, and Statesmanship
    • Statesmanship and Democracy: A Culminating Activity in American History, 1877-2001
      by Sara Whitis, Ashland, OH
      Course: U.S. History
      Level: Grades 9-12
      Synopsis: This lesson plan will focus on the impact of statesmanship and democracy in American history. Through brainstorming and discussion, students will gain an understanding of the virtues of democracy while also recognizing the significance of statesmen on this system of government. By examining primary sources, students will compare common themes of democracy as well as the affects of mass culture on today’s leaders. Particular attention will be paid to Winston Churchill throughout this lesson.
    • “Give Us the Tools”
      by Willie A. Brown Jr, Birmingham, AL
      Course: Social Studies
      Level: Grades 5-12
      Synopsis: This lesson will analyze and synthesize the cause and effects of Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s 9 February 1941 broadcast speech, “Give Us The Tools” had on United States President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s decision to provide armaments to Great Britain during America’s policy of neutrality concerning matters of foreign war.
    • Analysis of the Leadership Styles of Hitler and Churchill
      by Rich Policz, Ashland, OH
      Course: Social Studies
      Level: Grades 5-12
      Synopsis: Looking at the events in Hitler’s Germany and Churchill’s Great Britain during World War II, what can we observe about their respective leadership styles? Are they both effective leaders? Should leadership be something that one ought to strive towards?
    • Greatness: Understanding the Concept in History
      by Harold Bragg, Coloma, MI
      Course: U.S History and World History
      Level: Grades 9-12
      Synopsis: The debate among students of history is whether greatness is determined by events, individuals or both. The thesis of these four lesson plans is that it is the individual who is the unequivocal deciding factor. Churchill, Washington, Lincoln, FDR, and King, Jr. are used as examples.
    • Winston S. Churchill Extended Document Based Question
      by Scott Miller, Snohomish, WA
      Course: European History
      Level: Grades 10-12
      Synopsis: This lesson discusses the elements of Churchill’s personality and temperament that allowed him to move good citizens to noble actions and lead Great Britain to victory over Nazi Germany during WWII.
    • The Power of Words
      by Bruce Aaron Thompson, Jefferson, OH
      Course: U.S. History, Government, or English
      Level: Grades 9-12
      Synopsis: This lesson examines several crucial political events of the 20th century, specifically three movements which shaped the course of history: Vladimir Lenin and Bolshevism-Communism, Adolf Hitler and Nazism, and Winston S. Churchill and Great Britain’s war aims and policies. Each movement was shaped by its leader’s words and his powers of persuasion with results of significant historical importance.
  • Churchill’s Ideas
    • Winston Churchill and Government
      by Erik Iverson, Black Hawk, SD
      Course: U.S. History or Government
      Level: Grades 11-12
      Synopsis: The purpose of this lesson is for students to begin to discover the meaning of the word “democracy” by using compilations of writings and quotations for Sir Winston Churchill. Students will engage in a Socratic Seminar; a structured, student-centered discussion format. The protocol maximizes student participation, requires students to read, think and listen critically, and facilitates the clear and convincing development and articulation of ideas. The Seminar places the burdens, responsibilities, and rewards of intellectual inquiry squarely on the shoulders of the students.
    • Winston Churchill and Technology
      by Christopher M. Schwarz, Skokie, IL
      Course: AP U.S History and AP European History
      Level: Grades 11-12
      Synopsis: The purpose of this lesson is to investigate and to discuss Churchill’s views on technological change in his lifetime and to ponder whether he felt technology is beneficial for humankind or a serious threat to our existence. This is a discussion-based lesson using a series of questions about Churchill’s article “Mankind is Confronted by One Supreme Task.”
    • Compare and Contrast: Churchill v. Garraty
      by Jeff Gordon, Sioux Falls, SD
      Course: U.S History
      Level: Grades 9-12
      Synopsis: The writings of Winston S. Churchill will be compared and contrasted with the textbook writing of Dr. John Garraty. The focus will be on the differing interpretations of events relative to the Civil War. Reading, cooperative learning, discussion and writing will all serve as parts of the lesson.
    • Aldous Huxley and Winston Churchill: Thinking About the 1930s
      by Ken Krummenacker, Huntington, NY
      Course: English
      Level: Grades 11-12
      Synopsis: Students will compare and contrast Churchill’s ideas in one or both of his essays, “Fifty Years Hence,” and “Mass Effects in Modern Life,” with the themes of Aldous Huxley’s classic dystopian novel Brave New World. Students will examine the 1930s fear that modernization, industrialization and technology were challenging the notion of individualism and the threat that totalitarian governments could conceivably manipulate the minds and even the biological nature of their enslaved citizens.
    • Centralizing Power: The Use of Military Force versus the Use of the Courts
      by Paul D. Saboe, Hendersonville, TN
      Course: European or World History
      Level: Grades 9-12
      Synopsis: The lesson focuses on the reigns of William the Conqueror and his great grandson, Henry II, and their respective efforts to centralize and strengthen the power of the English monarchy. The lesson involves a preparatory homework assignment, a general discussion, a selected reading from Sir Winston Churchill, a discussion of the reading, and a formal capstone activity in the form of a discussion, debate, or in-class writing.
    • American Imperialism: 1880-1914 and Winston Churchill
      by Ron Weisbrod, Cincinnati, OH
      Course: U.S. History
      Level: Grades 11-12
      Synopsis: As students have studied American History concepts such as individual rights vs. group safety, liberty vs. order, liberalism, progressive history and American exceptionalism will have been discussed. Building on these concepts, the unit on imperialism (and Progressivism) leads to an overarching question, “Are empire and democracy compatible?” or “Is a democracy elevated or degraded by having an empire?”
    • Great Speeches: Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King
      by Steve Rodriguez, Chula Vista, CA
      Course: English
      Level: Grade 8
      Synopsis: This lesson plan involves students studying three excerpts of Winston Churchill’s speeches delivered in 1940, and comparing to/contrasting them with President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” Speech.