Lesson Plan: US Government: Foreign Policy

Overview: The lesson provides the student with a historical overview of American foreign policy as well as an introduction to concepts related to foreign relations as it is carried out today. Students will use on-line resources to gain an understanding of the major foreign policy trends from the past and within current events.

Objectives: The students will

I. outline the goals of American foreign policy.

II. identify some or all of the key events that have shaped foreign policy during the history of our nation.

III. list and describe the major foreign policy players within and outside of American government including the United Nations.

Warm Up Activity (Anticipatory Set): True or False Diagnostic Quiz

A) Have students form partner pairs for a diagnostic quiz. Be sure they understand that the quiz will not count as a grade.

B) Offer an incentive for the students to do well, i.e., computer time, a candy treat, or any other thing that is permissible within reason by that they find important.

C) Have students answer the following true-false questions on their own papers. Each pair of students can have one paper for responses.

1) Only the president has the power to declare war.
2) The conflict in Northern Ireland is between Muslims and Jews.
3) The United States always sells more than it buys from other countries.
4) The United Nations owes the United States billions of dollars since the US is the leader of most UN projects.
5) One of the most serious threats to the United States is Great Britain.
6) The person who carries out the President's wishes in the area of foreign policy is the Secretary of Defense.
7) There are no more communist nations in the world today.
8)  The current President of the Soviet Union is Mikhail Gorbachev.
9) One of the closest allies of the United States since the end of World War II has been the People's Republic of China.
10) The United States is willing to protect the nation of Israel against its Arab neighbors because of the large oil reserves that Israel owns.

D) Review answers to the quiz and allow students to correct their own papers by taking notes. Have students correct the statement as they review the responses so that it becomes a true statement.

Main Activity (Instructional Input): Gaining A Background in American Foreign Policy

A)  Distribute terms to students on a worksheet. Divide the class into five groups. Assign each group about three to five terms to define from the list below that has hyperlinks. The terms that are not hyperlinks can be completed using traditional media such as textbooks, encyclopedias, CD-ROMs, periodicals and newspapers. Have each group use the Internet to define the terms assigned to them. Students should keep a record of their definitions on their own papers.

B) When students have defined all the terms, have the students place their terms on overhead transparencies. (This will require the teacher to clean the transparencies between classes). Review them orally by discussing the meaning and importance of each term. Use the Internet's resources to display audio and visual resources of the concepts being discussed. Allow students to copy the definitions supplied by their peers. Then collect or review students' work for a grade.

C) Alternative: In the computer lab, have students word-process the terms on computer. Students should copy terms down into their notes from computer as they rotate from station to station. Continue until all terms have been copied into students' notes.


Student Worksheet: Foreign Policy Vocabulary 

History of American Foreign Policy

1) Isolationism Under Washington: http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/H/1994/ch4_p9.htm
2) The War of 1812

A) Causes: http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/H/1994/ch4_p11.htm
B) Outcome/Results: http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/H/1994/ch4_p11.htm

3) The Spanish American War:  http://lcweb.loc.gov/rr/hispanic/1898/trask.html
4) The Monroe Doctrine: http://www.northpark.edu/acad/history/WebChron/USA/MonDoc.html
5) The Roosevelt Corollary: http://web-cr02.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/amex/presidents/nf/featured/tr/lafecoro.html
6) Dollar Diplomacy: http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/taft2.htm
7) Neutrality: http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/H/1994/ch9_p1.htm
8) The League of Nations: http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/H/1994/ch9_p3.htm
9) Wilson's "Fourteen Points" : http://www.northpark.edu/acad/history/WebChron/USA/14Points.html
10)The Axis Powers of World War II: http://www.grolier.com/wwii/wwii_2.html
11) Communism: http://www.forks.wednet.edu/middle/communismvocab.html
12) Proletariat: http://www.forks.wednet.edu/middle/communismvocab.html
13) Vlademir Ilich Lenin: http://csf.colorado.edu/psn/marx/Other/Lenin/
14) The Cold War: http://home.cdsnet.net/~howard/ and Check Out CNN's Special: The Cold War at http://cnn.com/SPECIALS/cold.war/
15) Containment: http://nunic.nu.edu/~dcunning/gs/HIS320/unit3/module3/containment.html
16) The Truman Doctrine: http://www.english.upenn.edu/~afilreis/50s/truman-doctrine.html
17) The Berlin Airlift: http://www.usafe.af.mil/berlin/berlin.htm
18) Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-tung) : http://members.tripod.com/gangsta_x/history/mao.html
19) Balance of Power
20) The Cuban Missile Crisis  : http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/nsa/cuba_mis_cri/cuba_mis_cri.html
From North Hagerstown High: http://www.fred.net/nhhs/html3/missile.htm

Spaces in the address above are actually underscores. They look like this: _ ).

21) Korean War (1950-1953) : http://www.koreanwar.org/
22) The Vietnam War: http://www.bev.net/computer/htmlhelp/vietnam.html
23) Central Intelligence Agency : http://www.odci.gov/cia/ciahome.html
Camp David Accords: http://www.state.gov/www/about_state/history/time12.html
24) SALT I: http://www.acda.gov/treaties/salt1.htm
25) SALT II: http://magic.hofstra.edu/~cgordon1/saltii.htm
26) Glasnost: http://www.starrfield.com/web/Glasnost.html
27) Perestroika: http://www.russia.net/history/gorbachev.html)
28)The Iran-Contra Affair: http://library.thinkquest.org/17749/liran-contras.html
29) Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI): http://cda.mrs.umn.edu/~vollbrcm/index7.html
30) Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF): http://www.nawcwpns.navy.mil/~treaty/txINF.html
31) Operation Just Cause: http://www.ojc.org/
32) Israel : http://cnn.com/SPECIALS/1998/israel/timeline/
33) Apartheid: http://www.rainbow-revolution.com/pages/resources/backgrounder/apartheid/apartbgrd.html
34) Tiananmen Square Massacre: http://www.christusrex.org/www1/sdc/tiananmen.html and http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/gate/index.html

Check in the textbook or other resources to define these terms:

35) The Good Neighbor Policy
36) Less developed Countries (LDCs) also called Third World Nations
37) Limited war
38) Chiang Kai-shek
39) Satellite Nations
40) Detente
41) Deterrence
42) ICBMs
43) MIRVs
44) Proliferation
45) Arms Control

General Terminology

1) Military powers of the President: http://majoritywhip.house.gov/constitution/View/Article2/a2s2c1.htm
2) The Secretary of State: http://secretary.state.gov/index.html
3) Department of State: http://www.state.gov/
4) National Security Council: http://www.whitehouse.gov/WH/EOP/NSC/html/nschome2.html
5)  Department of Defense: http://www.defenselink.mil/
6) Joint Chiefs of Staff: http://www.dtic.mil/jcs/
7) United States Information Agency : http://www.usia.gov/
8) Arms Control and Disarmament Agency: http:www.acda.gov
9) Agency for International Development: http://www.info.usaid.gov/
10) North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO): http://www.nato.int/welcome/home.htm
11) ANZUS: http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa067es.html
12) Organization of American States (OAS): http://www.oas.org/
13) Marshall Plan: http://www.state.gov/www/regions/eur/marshall.html and
14) Peace Corps: http://www.peacecorps.gov/
15) General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT): http://www.itd.org/12eng_guide/ABRIEFHI.HTM
16) Organization of Oil Exporting Countries: http://www.opec.org/About.htm
17) United Nations: http://www.un.org/
18) General Assembly: http://www.un.org/ga/gabgk.htm
19) Security Council: http://www.un.org/Overview/Organs/sc.html
20) International Court of Justice: http://www.icj-cij.org/icj002.htm
21) Economic And Social Council: http://www.un.org/Overview/Organs/ecosoc.html
22) Trusteeship Council: http://www.un.org/Overview/Organs/tc.html
23) Secretariat: http://www.un.org/Overview/Organs/secretariat.html
24) Secretary General: http://www.un.org/Overview/SG/index.html
25) UNICEF: http://www.unicef.org/
26) World Health Organization: http://www.who.ch/
27) Food and Agriculture Organization: http://www.fao.org/
28) UNESCO: http://www.unesco.org/
29) The World Bank: http://www.worldbank.org/

Check in the textbook or other resources to define these terms:

30) Foreign policy 
31) Foreign relations
32) Treaty-making powers of the President
33) Peace Treaties
34) Alliance Treaties
35) Commercial (Trade) Treaties
36) Executive Agreement
37) Ambassadors
38) Diplomatic recognition
39) Ministers
40) Consuls
41) Diplomatic corps
42) Couriers
43) Protective Tariffs
44) Exports
45) Imports
46) Balance of Trade
47) Personal Diplomacy
48) Summit
49) Shuttle Diplomacy


Examples (Modeling): Time Line of US Foreign Policy

  1. Have students use the State Department's Time Line of Diplomatic History at http://www.state.gov/www/about_state/history/timeline.html to develop a time line of major US foreign policy events based on the definitions developed from the activity above.
  2. Create a transparency that contains the  major periods of American foreign policy. Students should copy down or have copies of the overhead.
  3. Create a second transparency containing ten to fifteen (or more if time allows) of the major events in the history of US foreign policy. Cut the transparency into a number strips with each strip containing one event. Distribute the strips to the groups at random.
  4. Have students use their notes and text to determine which events took place in the correct chronological order. As students come up to the overhead to place their strips in the correct order, ask them to verbalize the cause-and-effect relationship between the events and trends in foreign policy.

Guided Practice: Review Worksheets on American Foreign policy of the 20th century

A) Distribute review worksheets that contain fill in the blank questions on American Foreign Policy of the 20th Century

B) Have students complete these worksheets. The worksheets used in this activity are based on the National Geographic Series filmstrip series entitled American Foreign Policy.

American Foreign Policy from 1921 to 1945. (Separate sheet)

American Foreign Policy from 1945 to the Present (Separate sheet)


Homework (Independent Practice): Foreign Policy Today

A) Have the students locate a story dealing with foreign policy in the news through newspaper articles, news summaries, or the Internet. One class period can be devoted to using the newspaper or watching a TV news broadcast to begin this activity in class if needed.

B) Have the students write a description of the article using the following template:

1) Describe the historical background of the foreign policy in the article. What is the history of the policy?
2) Describe the issue at hand. List two or more sides of the issue by stating the different approaches the US could take in dealing with the issue.
3) What position does the US government take today on the issue? Do you agree with the policy?

C) Have students present their articles and issues orally in front of the class during the next class period.

D) Assign and oral presentation grade as well as a written product grade for the assignment.

Wrap-Up Activity (Closure): Map on Foreign Policy

A) Display a world map on the wall or overhead.

B) For each of the major foreign policy issues mentioned in any of the above activities, indicate the location of the nations involved in the issues facing American policy makers.

C) Locations can be indicated with a correctly placed number. Details about policies dealing with that locality can be placed on a separate sheet of paper, on a transparency, or a wall map.

D) Use the map to review concepts or quiz students on foreign policy issues taking place today or in the past.

Evaluation: The lesson will be evaluated by:

I. the accuracy of student's written responses;

II. student's scores on future tests and quizzes.

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