NCSS Lesson 8
Title: Atomic Bomb Debate
Lesson Author: Curtis Brown, Brandon Sexton, Erin Weiss
Key Words: Atomic Bomb, World War II, Unconditional Surrender,
Grade Level: 11
Time Allotted: 45 minutes
Rationale/ Purpose (so what?)
Nature and scope of topic. Why is this significant to the mission of educating future citizens?
Understand the role that the atomic bomb played in World War II, it’s
lasting impact in society, how it brought unconditional surrender, and
analyze Truman’s decision to do so (pros, cons).
Background/Context: How does this lesson fit into a unit of study? Looking
backwards, looking forwards
Towards the end of World War II, after discussing the brutal nature of Island Hopping in
the Pacific Campaign and after V-E Day, the lesson discusses the end of World War II
and how it came about. Looking forward, it impacts the future due to the Cold War
tensions with nuclear bombs and growing concern over countries attaining the bomb.
Key Concept(s) Atomic bomb – a bomb whose explosiveness force comes
from a chain reaction based on nuclear fission in U-235 or plutonium.
unconditional surrender – surrender without conditions, in which no guarantees
are given to the surrendering party except for those provided by international
Manhattan Project – the codename for a project conducted during World War II
to develop the first atomic bombs, led by the United States.
Island Hopping – a strategy used by the Allies in World War II where they
traveled from island to island to reach their ultimate destination, Japan.
Total war – a war limitless in scope in which a belligerent engages in the
mobilization of all available resources, in order to render beyond use their rival’s
capacity for resistance.
Potsdam Declaration – a statement issued by the Allies for the unconditional
surrender of Japan.
NCSS Lesson 8
*As written in the Virginia SOL ―Curriculum Framework‖ for the grade level
NCSS Theme (s) with indicators: Science, Technology, and Society:
enable learners to identify, describe, and examine both current and historical examples of the
interaction and interdependence of science, technology, and society in a variety of cultural
settings, provide opportunities for learners to make judgements about how science and
technology have transformed the physical world and human society, help learners to identify and
interpret various perspectives about human societies and the physical world using scientific
knowledge, technologies, and ethical standards from diverse world cultures.
SOL* : VUS.11b: The student will demonstrate knowledge of World War II by b) describing and
locating the major battles and turning points of the war in North Africa, Europe, and the Pacific,
Stalingrad, the Normandy landing (D-Day), and Truman’s decision to use the atomic bomb to
force the surrender of Japan.
Essential Knowledge Essential Skills
(minimum for SOL Resource Guide) (minimum for SOL Resource Guide)
Use of the atomic bomb: Facing the prospect of Formulate historical questions and defend
horrendous American and Japanese casualties if findings, based on inquiry and interpretation.
American forces were to invade Japan itself, (VUS.1c)
President Harry Truman ordered the use of Interpret events from different historical
atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of perspectives.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki to force the Japanese
to surrender. Tens of thousands of people were
killed in both cities. Shortly after the bombs
were used, the Japanese leaders surrendered,
avoiding the need for American forces to
Guiding Question(s): MUST BE SHARED WITH STUDENTS AT BEGINNING OF EACH
LESSON- Visible in lesson procedure and materials.
What major factors contributed to Truman’s decision? What alternatives did
Truman have? What were the immediate and after effects, on people and
The day’s big question: Did Truman make the right decision in dropping
the atomic bomb, knowing that civilian life was at stake?
NCSS Lesson 8
Lesson Objective(s): clearly emerges from big question and rationale and standards
and will align with your assessment in Procedure and Process
Obj. 1 SWBAT understand and analyze both the Pros and Cons to the bomb
decision, while acknowledging political and economic factors.
Obj. 2 SWBAT to apply their knowledge of both sides to take a side in a
debate, regardless of opinion.
Assessment Tool(s) to be used- Everything above- goes to what you want them
to know/understand do- So what assessments are you going to use to help you manage and
monitor that they have got it-informal and formal—make one over-riding assessment connect to
Assessment 1. Informal assessment: Just Do It – write a few thoughts on
atomic bombs and power.
Assessment 2. Active and informed participation in the debate.
Assessment 3: Closing activity on what is your opinion and did it change.
NCSS Lesson 8
Materials: Historical Additional
Source(s): List here and include copies Materials/Resources: List here and
in materials section below include copies in materials section- textbooks
etc page numbers, websites etc
images, notes on opposing sides. Copies of historical sources, video,
NCSS Lesson 8
1) JUST DO IT! The “Hook”: A high-interest activity that introduces new content with
connections to students’ prior knowledge. Between 1-5 minutes. You could also introduce the
days guiding question- could help with assessment of student needs the hook
Prior knowledge of atomic bomb. What is your opinion on the use of atomic bombs?
Should every country have the right to an atomic bomb?
2) Instructional sequence:
Processing Activity and Procedure – Check for Evidence of
include directions, question frames, Understanding
assignment details, to be given to students -Either Formal or Informal e.g.
(these should all be made into explicit assessments- question frames,
materials (e.g. see material A) Do you have quiz, choice activities, discussion
opportunities for direct/guided instruction and with frame and your THAT’s A
above. independent practice/engagement when WRAP.
appropriate and time estimates (Checks Essential Knowledge
and Skills should be in line with
assessment tools above)
Imagine you’re a president and overall
Just do it. paragraph to be turned in
opinion on atomic bombs.
Transition: Have students open lecture notes while I open powerpoint.
Objective Informal – notes.
Lecture with notes on both sides.
Transition: Move onto our debate, set up room and divide sides.
Student debate where students defend one Informal – participation
assigned side of the argument. points.
3) Closure- THAT’S A WRAP that goes to opening question- and also in part to assessment
tools –at least one key assessment tool. (Do you need a rubric)
On the same page of just do it, ―What is your actual opinion of the US
dropping the bomb? Did it change at all with the debate?‖
Modifications/Accommodations for Diverse Learners:
Include reference and acknowledgement of IEP plans for specific students- that is easy.
Additionally, highlight how you have designed materials/sequences that pay attention to pre-
NCSS Lesson 8
assessment evidence to address readiness, interest, and learning preference needs, including
attention to student groupings, use of time and materials, variance in whole class and small
group instruction, varied task complexity. Can you delineate key instructional strategies and
scaffolds that are effective for responding to student needs? Do you provide rubrics to explain
what good work looks like? Do you provide room for direct instruction/guided instruction
(including read alouds and think alouds), independent practice. (Use Cruz and Thornton, and
Tomlinson and McTighe).
Modify lesson for specific IEP’s. For example, for a student that needs materials printed,
print the powerpoint and notes for him/her.
Allow more time for students if they need to finish the ―That’s A Wrap‖ by taking it
During the Just Do It, walk around the classroom and see what students have down
about atomic bombs. If there is very little, focus on basic atomic bomb beginnings and
capability. If there is a good amount, focus on major issues and decisions of Truman.
In making the debate groups, make a heterogeneous mix of students including attention
to IEP or ELL students and student with high grades, so students can help each other
and have an even mix for debate.
Rubric for the debate so students know how active to be during the debate
Provide questions that will be covered in debate so students have adequate time to
Provide notes to help students process thoughts during debate.
For students who may not be comfortable with speaking, take the Just Do It and That’s
A Wrap writing assignment into consideration.
NCSS Lesson 8
Materials (one resource per page- so it becomes a teacher or student handout, or overhead
directions or ppt presentation. Include photocopies if need be. Can you provide elements of
choices in materials or enrichment or support/anchor materials for different students?.
a. Powerpoint for lecture
b. Notes for lecture
c. Handouts for student lecture notes
d. Questions for debate
e. Rubric for debate
f. Scorecard for debate