When Texas Saw Red: The Cold War Experience
Social Studies, Grades 6 - 8
Through the analysis of primary source archival footage from TAMI’s online exhibit, “When Texas Saw Red,” students will demonstrate an understanding of the Cold War period that spanned nearly half a century. Students will explore the politics of the atomic bomb and the policy of containment, propagated paranoia related to the spread of communism, the nuclear arms race and détente, as well as the fall of the Berlin Wall and decline of the USSR. The Cold War period remains relevant today; its social, economic, and political impact on the United States and, more locally on Texas, requires critical examination and reflection.
Teachers will take students on a “guided tour” of “When Texas Saw Red,” where students will analyze various primary sources to better understand the events and themes of the Cold War.
The following lesson assumes students are aware of the post-WWII period and the struggle between the new super powers for world domination.
Students should be familiar with the use of the atomic bomb, the countries that used and possessed it, and why it was such a terrifying and devastating weapon.
Students should be familiar with the Cold War era, noting the differences between communism and democracy, the basic political differences between the U.S. and USSR in the mid-to-late twentieth century, and the fear surrounding nuclear arms escalation worldwide.
Students should be aware of the importance of safety drills and routines at school and in general.
Assess students’ prior knowledge by asking them what they know about 20th century wars and weapons, such as the atomic bomb in WWII and the Cold War.
Talk about what the “Cold War” era generally with your class; discuss the impact of the U.S. dropping the atomic bomb on Japan to end WWII and the weapon’s impact on the world thereafter.
To highlight key Cold War terms, students will use the provided Cold War Vocabulary Worksheet to define Cold War terms (see Worksheets). Have students reference their textbooks or other approved sources to define terms individually or in a group. Use the provided Cold War Teacher’s Guide to assist students (see Worksheets).
Once students have completed their vocabulary lists, ask for volunteers to define a few terms aloud. Check students’ understanding, clarify definitions, and give examples to enrich their understanding. (Suggestion: draw a timeline on the board with key dates and terms. Then call upon students to define Cold War vocabulary.)
Tell your students that they will be visiting an online exhibit today. Take them on a “guided tour” of “When Texas Saw Red” using a variety of visual and audiovisual primary sources to teach them about this era.
Tell them they should be writing down their observations and reflections for a class discussion. Make sure students have paper and a pencil for note taking during the guided tour.
Begin the “When Texas Saw Red” exhibit, https://www.whentexassawred.com/
Describe each section of the exhibit to your class. Show the following films and pause occasionally to ask them to respond to the guided questions below. Make sure students are critically viewing and understanding these films in their reflective writing responses. Encourage students to relate films to their vocabulary lists.
Video – Duck and Cover
beginning through 5:09
This video was part of a government effort to teach civil defense in schools. Discuss with your students why the video was made, what were the main concerns about the atomic bomb that the filmmakers show, and how was it different than other safety threats. What do the film makers not talk about?
Video – The Port Arthur Story
beginning through 5:01
Discuss the differences between communism and democracy. After watching the video, have your students explain what they think is going on at this time in Port Arthur, Texas, and the United States. Discuss why the people in the interviews wanted to label the picketers as ‘communists.’ Explain the Red Scare.
Video – The Protected School
Talk with your students about what it would be like to go to school underground. Discuss why the school was built and why the city of Laredo would have invested so much in building it instead of a conventional school. What does the building of this school say about the build-up of nuclear arms at the time? Were people thinking this was going to be a long-term or short-term struggle?
Video – The Congressman Charles Wilson Collection – Eyewitness News and Answers
Talk about the Cold War spreading to Asia and the Middle East. Discuss why Congressman Wilson focuses so much on Russia in this video instead of fighters in the Middle East. Explain the struggle for world dominance and the ‘domino effect.’ Ask students to think about current issues in the Middle East and how they relate to this era.
Video – President Ronald Reagan’s Speech at the Berlin Wall, June 12, 1987
Discuss with your students the history of the city of Berlin in the Cold War (the creation of the wall, the division in the city, the Berlin Airlift and the Marshall Plan). After watching the speech, does Reagan see the Cold War as being over? What does he feel will be the end of the Cold War? Discuss.
Write a descriptive letter to a friend
Instruct students to write a personal letter to a friend describing facets of the Cold War based upon a variety of primary sources viewed and discussed in class. Make sure they use at least five key Cold War terms from their vocabulary lists in their descriptive letters. Have them think about what it was like to live during this time by describing their life at home and school in the Cold War.
Ask students to select, research, and address three out of the five questions listed below (responses should be half-page to 1 page in length for each question).
- Who was responsible for starting the Cold War? Support your answers.
- Address the validity of this statement: The Cold War never turned “hot.” Do you agree or disagree with this statement?
- How did the Cold War challenge American values, either at home or abroad? What were some of the consequences of McCarthyism domestically during the mid-to-late twentieth century?
- How did the Cold War contribute to the current unrest in the Middle East, particularly in Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan?
- Is the Cold War still going on today? Explain and think about current events to support your answer, including recent events in Turkey and Ukraine.
- What is the significance of the recent push to normalize relations between the U.S. and Cuba, and why was the relationship strained for more than fifty years?
- Brennan, Mary. Wives, Mothers, and the Red Menace: Conservative Women and the Crusade against Communism. University Press of Colorado, 2008.
- Carleton, Don. Red Scare: Right-Wing Hysteria, Fifties Fanaticism, and Their Legacy in Texas. Austin: Texas Monthly Press, 1985.
- Crile, George. Charlie Wilson's War. New York: Grove Press, 2003.
- Gaddis, John Lewis. The Cold War: a New History. New York: Penguin Press, 2005.
- May, Elaine Tyler. Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era. New York: Basic Books, 2008.
- Tindall, George Brown and David E. Shi. America: A Narrative History, Ninth Edition, New York: Norton, 2012.
- https://www.whentexassawred.com/: Texas Archive of the Moving Image "When Texas Saw Red"
- http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/bomb/: PBS American Experience"Race for the Superbomb"
- http://www.coldwar.org/: The Cold War Museum
- http://www.trumanlibrary.org: Harry S. Truman Library and Museum
Grade 6, Social Studies
1B – Analyze the historical background of various contemporary societies to evaluate relationships between past conflicts and current conditions
2B – Evaluate the social, political, economic, and cultural contributions of individuals and groups from various societies, past and present
9A – Compare ways in which various societies organize the production and distribution of goods and services
9B – Compare and contrast free enterprise, socialist, and communist economies in various contemporary societies, including the benefits of the U.S. free enterprise system
9D – Examine the record of collective, non-free market economic systems in contemporary world societies
11A – Identify and describe examples of limited and unlimited governments such as constitutional (limited) and totalitarian (unlimited)
12B – Compare ways in which various societies such as China, Germany, India, and Russia organize government and how they function
13C – Compare the role of citizens in the United States with the role of citizens from various contemporary societies with representative and non-representative governments
15E – Analyze the similarities and differences among various world societies
15F – Identify and explain examples of conflict and cooperation between and among cultures
21A – Differentiate between, locate, and use valid primary and secondary sources such as computer software; interviews; biographies; oral, print, and visual material; and artifacts to acquire information about various world cultures
21D – Identify different points of view about an issue or current topic
22A – Use social studies terminology correctly
22B – Incorporate main and supporting ideas in verbal and written communication based on research
22C – Express ideas orally based on research and experiences
22D – Create written and visual material such as journal entries, reports, graphic organizers, outlines, and bibliographies based on research
22E – Use standard grammar, spelling, sentence structure, and punctuation
Grade 7, Social Studies
7E – Analyze the political, economic, and social impact of major events, including World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II, on the history of Texas
7F – Analyze the political, economic, and social impact of major events in the latter half of the 20th and early 21st centuries such as major conflicts, the emergence of a two-party system, political and economic controversies, immigration, and migration
13C – Analyze the impact of significant industries in Texas such as oil and gas, aerospace, medical, and computer technologies on local, national, and international markets
17B – Describe the importance of free speech and press in a democratic society
17C – Express and defend a point of view on an issue of historical or contemporary interest in Texas
18A – Identify the leadership qualities of elected and appointed leaders of Texas, past and present, including Texans who have been president of the United States
21A – Differentiate between, locate, and use valid primary and secondary sources such as computer software, databases, media and news services, biographies, interviews, and artifacts to acquire information about Texas
21B – Analyze information by sequencing, categorizing, identifying cause-and-effect relationships, comparing, contrasting, finding the main idea, summarizing, making generalizations and predictions, and drawing inferences and conclusions
21C – Organize and interpret information from outlines, reports, databases, and visuals, including graphs, charts, timelines, and maps
21D – Identify points of view from the historical context surrounding an event and the frame of reference that influenced the participants
21E – Support a point of view on a social studies issue or event
22A – Use social studies terminology correctly
22B – Use standard grammar, spelling, sentence structure, punctuation, and proper citation of sources
22C – Transfer information from one medium to another, including written to visual and statistical to written or visual, using computer software as appropriate
22D – Create written, oral, and visual presentations of social studies information
Grade 8, Social Studies
19F – Explain how the rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizens reflect our national identity
29A – Differentiate between, locate, and use valid primary and secondary sources such as computer software, databases, media and news services, biographies, interviews, and artifacts to acquire information about the United States
29B – Analyze information by sequencing, categorizing, identifying cause-and-effect relationships, comparing, contrasting, finding the main idea, summarizing, making generalizations and predictions, and drawing inferences and conclusions
29C – Organize and interpret information from outlines, reports, databases, and visuals, including graphs, charts, timelines, and maps
29E – Support a point of view on a social studies issue or event
30A – Use social studies terminology correctly
30B – Use standard grammar, spelling, sentence structure, punctuation, and proper citation of sources
30C – Transfer information from one medium to another, including written to visual and statistical to written or visual, using computer software as appropriate
30D – Create written, oral, and visual presentations of social studies information
Cold War Vocabulary Worksheet (Grades 6–8)
Cold War Vocabulary Teacher's Guide