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Grade Range:

Circle of Knowledge
Lesson Plan
Social Studies
This is a multi-day lesson that gives students background knowledge
on the origin of the Cuban embargo and asks them to evaluate the
impact that the embargo has had on the Cuban economy.
100-150+ Minutes (2-3 class periods)
Kristin Evans

Instructional Unit Content

Content Area Standard
SS6E1 The student will analyze different economic systems.
c. Compare and contrast the basic types of economic systems found in Canada, Cuba,
and Brazil.
SS6E2 The student will give examples of how voluntary trade benefits buyers and sellers in
Latin America and the Caribbean and Canada.
b. Compare and contrast different types of trade barriers such as tariffs, quotas, and
TAG Standard
Higher Order and Critical Thinking Skills
7. The student examines an issue from more than one point of view.
8. The student separates ones own point of view from that of others.
10. The student distinguishes between assumptions, inferences, and conclusions.
11. The student draws conclusions based upon relevant information while
discarding irrelevant information.
Advanced Communication Skills
1. The student uses written, spoken, and technological media to convey new learning or
challenge existing ideas.
2. The student produces written and/or oral work that is complex, purposeful, and
organized, includes relevant supporting examples and manipulation of language.
3. The student creates products and/or presentations that synthesize information from
diverse sources and communicate expertise to a variety of authentic audiences.


The lesson is designed to give students solid background on the origins of the Cuban
embargo, specifically the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Students also explore the
impact of the long-standing embargo on the Cuban economy.

Enduring Understanding(s)
At the end of this lesson the student will understand that the U.S. embargo imposed on Cuba
has its origin in the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis, its continuation represents the
United States ideological and political opposition to the Cuban government, and that the
embargo has harmed the Cuban people.
Essential Question(s)
Why is conflict likely when two countries that are ideologically opposed face off against one
another in a high-stakes political environment?
Concept(s) to Maintain

Evidence of Learning
What students should know:
a. Cuba and the Soviet Union became political allies in 1960, following the Cuban
Revolution when Fidel Castro led the Communists to power.
b. The Cuban Revolution overthrew a dictator that was supported by the United States,
and tension between Cuba and the U.S. continued to rise as the Soviets strengthened
their relationship with Castro.
c. The Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 was a high point in the tensions between the U.S.
and Soviet Union.
What students should be able to understand:
a. The Cuban Revolution pitted the ideals of communism (Soviet Union) and
capitalism/democracy (United States) against one another that started an ideological
battle that still exists today in the form of the embargo.
What students should be able to do:
a. Responds to questions with supporting information that reflects in-depth knowledge
of a topic.
b. Examines an issue from more than one point of view.
c. Separates ones own point of view from that of others.

Suggested Vocabulary

Phase 1: Sparking the Discussion (Hook)

Students will answer the warm-up question in their Think Pad: What happens when two
friends start to fight? After approximately 4-5 minutes, students will share their answers in table
groups. Students will highlight or circle any words, terms, or phrases that they have in common
with others in their group. Ask for volunteers to share their answers.

Phase 2: Acquiring Content Needed to Participate in Discussion


Pose the essential question: Why is conflict likely when two countries that are
ideologically opposed face off against one another in a high-stakes political

Activate prior knowledge by having students create sentences in their Think Pad using at least
three words from the Word Splashstudents have previously studied the Cold War in the
European history unit. (Handout 1)
4. Students will read from specific selections of the article On the Brink: From the Bay of Pigs to
the Cuban Missile Crisis (Handout 2), the website, and The
New York Times article Why sanctions in Cuba must remain in place from 2013 (Handout 3)
for further investigation and background knowledge as to the origins of the embargo and its
impact on Cuba. The website in particular makes arguments on both sides as to whether the
embargo is warranted, and students will use these opinion pieces to form their own opinions.
**Remediation: Teacher at this point should rotate throughout the classroom and be ready to reteach, summarize, or further review the materials that students are reading in response to level of
5. Students will summarize their understanding of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the origins of the
embargo with their Student Notes Organizer (Handout 4). **Differentiation: Students can also
use magazine articles from the Think Differently Extension Board to include in their notetaking as well (includes a discussion of the political ideology of Nikita Khrushchev)

Phase 3: Kindling the Discussion


Students will use their notes and the Questioning Cube (Handout 5) to answer and have small
group discussions.


Students will receive a political cartoon on the Cuban embargo at their tables (Handout
6) that they will interpret using the political cartoon analysis guide (Handout 7).


In whole group, students will participate in a discussion driven by the following

questions: How does economic principle drive political decision-making? Why is
conflict likely when two superpowers clash ideologically?
Phase 4: Synthesis Activity
Students will write their own op-ed pieces for a newspaper in which they must take a
stance on the topic: Does the U.S. have a legitimate reason for continuing the trade
embargo with Cuba? Teacher should be looking for at least a 3-paragraph structure
where students outline: 1) the basic reasons why the embargo was imposed; 2) the
impact the embargo has had on Cuba; and 3) whether or not the embargo should
continue. **Extension: Students who are finished early can respond to the Think
Differently Extension Board activity on Khrushchev and Kennedythere are speeches
from both leaders about the resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis and questions that they
answer about the intentions of both leaders and their role in avoiding nuclear war.

Summarizing Activity

3-2-1 Exit Ticket

Anchor Text(s):
On the Brink: From the Bay of Pigs to the Cuban Missile Crisis

Handout 1:
Handout 2:
Handout 3:
Handout 4:

Word Splash
On the Brink: From the Bay of Pigs to the Cuban Missile Crisis
Keep the Embargo, O

Student Notes Organizer


Handout 5: Questioning Cubes

Handout 6: Cuban Embargo Political Cartoon
Handout 7: Political Cartoon Analysis Guide
Handout 8: 3-2-1 Exit Ticket