Dropping the Atomic Bombs & the War in the Pacific
This is the fourth and final episode and lesson of my World War II unit that tells the amazing and harrowing story of the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that ended WWII. Teaching through the power of story, the video focuses on the day of the bombing of Hiroshima, the men aboard the Enola Gay and the civilians on the ground, and what convinced Truman it was the right decision. It also unpacks the larger context of the war in the Pacific including the Battle of Midway, Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa, as well as the planned invasion of Japan. Students learn what convinced President Truman to drop the atomic bombs and why he was criticized for doing and are left to make their own conclusions on the issue.
WHAT STUDENTS DO
This extension lesson actually had two different options. Both are based on four powerful primary sources that get students to think critically about if the bomb should have been dropped. The first option allows students to record insights and create original questions on each of the documents to be ready for a discussion- this one is more open and less scaffolded but works better for a Socratic seminar. The other option gives guided questions for students to answer and might be more appropriate for struggling students. You can use even use both and give struggling learners the guided question sheet because they will still be ready for a whole-class discussion or debate. Lastly, they both ask students to answer the question "Why did President Truman believe dropping the atomic bombs on Japan was the right decision?" and have to use evidence from the documents to support their answer. There are answer keys for everything!
Analyzing primary sources, listening and communicating, argumentative writing.