9-12 U.S. History Arkansas


This inquiry leads students through an investigation of Containment. By investigating the compelling question “Was Containment a Success?” students evaluate the need for and policies of containment. The formative performance tasks build on knowledge and skills through the course of the inquiry and help students make judgments on the policies of containment. Students create an evidence-based argument about the relative success or failure of containment.


Compelling Question:

Was Containment a Success?

Staging the Question: View a picture of falling dominoes and discuss why this became a metaphor for U.S. Cold War policies.

Supporting Question What policies did the United States put into place to limit or contain post WWII ideas or theories?

Formative Task Create a list of policies the U.S. employed to combat geo-political threats after WWII.

Sources Source A: Department of State: Description of the Truman Doctrine
Source B: Department of State: Description of the Marshall Plan
Source C: GWU: Kennan “Long Telegram


Supporting Question What post WWII ideas or theories threatened the United States?

Formative Task Create an annotated map that shows where political problems were most pronounced and explain the threat these areas posed to the U.S.

Sources Source A: Mapping History: Cold War Map
Source B: Department of State: Description of the Berlin Airlift
Source C: Media Rich Learning: Cold War Part 1 – From World War to Cold War


Supporting Question To what extent were United States containment policies effective?

Formative Task Write a claim and counterclaim about the extent to which the U.S. containment policies were successful.

Sources Source A: UNH: Contemporary editorial about the effectiveness of the Marshall Plan
Source B: National Archives: Description of the Korean Conflict
Source C: Department of State: Description of NSC-68

Summative Performance Task

Argument: Was Containment a Success? Construct an argument (e.g., detailed outline, poster, essay) that discusses the compelling question using specific claims and relevant evidence from historical sources while acknowledging competing views.
Extension: Participate in a classroom forum on whether containment as a response to communism in the 1950s-60s is seen as a success today.

Taking Informed Action

Understand: Investigate a current threat caused by differing ideas/theories focusing on one or more groups of people who are trying to make a change economically or politically in U.S. policy.
Assess: Examine the extent to which the current threat is successful and state one’s personal perspective on the justification of the threat.
Act: Write an editorial for the school or local newspaper on a current “threat or issue arising from different ideas/theories”. In this editorial, students can discuss their positions on the efforts of those engaged in these “threats” and the extent to which those efforts are currently successful.