Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Comparing the Articles of Confederation and the League of Nations
Catrina Pelton
Dual Credit American History
Time Frame:
5 days
Articles Of Confederation
United States Constitution
United Nations
League Of Nations

Grade Levels:

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:

The activity for this lesson will be discussion and group research. The assignment for this lesson will be an individual paper analyzing what they have learned throughout the process of the lesson.

  • Too many times students do not grasp the correlations between past and present events. They tend to view history as a series of separate events that do not have any impact on each other when, on the contrary, they have tremendous impact on other events in history.
  • This is the case with the League of Nations, its failure, and the development of the United Nations. The comparison can be made between the process leading up to the United Nations and the development of the Articles of Confederation, its failure, and the creation of the Constitution.
  • The goal is to get kids to think critically about the process of creating governmental agencies, the failure of ideas, and the ability to learn from past mistakes to create something larger and more effective in the long run.

District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met:

  • Show Me Standards: SS 2, 3, 5, 6, 7. Goal 1.1-8, Goal 2.3, 7. Goal 3.1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8. Goal 4.1, 6.
  • Course Level Expectations: 3a Q, 3a W, 3a X, 3b M, 7A, 7B, 7C

Kansas Standards

Benchmark 4: The student uses a working knowledge and understanding of individuals, groups, ideas, developments, and turning points of the World Since 1945.

4. (A) analyzes the impact of international organizations on global interaction (e.g., the United Nations; Organization of American States, NATO, non-governmental organizations such as the International Red Cross, European Union).

Benchmark 5: The student engages in historical thinking skills.

1. (A) analyzes a theme in world history to explain patterns of continuity and change over time.

2. (A) develops historical questions on a specific topic in world history and analyzes the evidence in primary source documents to speculate on the answers.

3. (A) uses primary and secondary sources about an event in world history to develop a credible interpretation of the event, forming conclusions about its meaning (e.g., use provided primary and secondary sources to interpret a historical-based conclusion).

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
  • Carol Berkin, A Brilliant Solution Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. October 2003.
  • Keith Doughtery, Collective Action under the Articles of Confederation. Cambridge University Press. March 2006.
  • Stewart Ross, The United Nations. Heinemann Library. August 2002.
  • Edward Carr, Twenty Years' of Crisis, 1919-1939. HarperCollins Publishers. April 1964.
  • Primary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:

    Technology Required:

    Internet Access

    Microsoft Word

    Full description of activity or assignment.
    • Day One:
      • At the time of the activity students will have had an opportunity to study the period of history surrounding the Articles of Confederation and Constitution as well as the League of Nations and the United Nations. During the class discussions I would have taken some time to make some very simple comparisons between the two, foreshadowing the activity.
      • As the students are ready to partake in the activity I would pose a question to them. The question would be: "Can we learn from past mistakes and make a better world for future generations?" After giving them some time to ponder the question and write down their answers, the class will share and discuss their answers. This will allow the students to be in the frame of mind to focus on the possibility of learning from failure.
      • I will briefly describe the activity and discuss and answer any questions that the students have on the documents we have studied.


    • Day Two and Three:
      • I will open the activity by reviewing the concepts that we have already talked about regarding the two time periods. "What do these have in common?" Begin thinking about this question and your answer. There will be a little discussion but mainly I want the students to start the brainstorming process.
      • I divide the students into two groups. The first group researches the Articles of Confederation, its failure and how that led to the development of the Constitution. The second group completes the same process with the League of Nations, its failure and the creation of the United Nations.
      • Each group is given primary documents of the Articles, the Constitution, the League Covenant, and the UN Charter. The groups must read the documents for their side and also find books and online resources that will aid them in answering some very important questions regarding their topics.


      • Questions to Answer:
        • Why did the initial organization document fail? How did it fail?
        • Could this have been fixed without resorting to completely redesigning the organization document?
        • What events in history contributed to the failure of the initial document organization?
        • Why was it decided that a new document organization was necessary?
        • How did the final document organization utilize themes from the previous one?
        • Why was this type of document organization possible at that point in time instead of previously?
        • Did we fix the mistakes that were made with the first document organization? How?
        • Once each group has researched and answered the following questions they will come together and discuss their answers as a whole entity.
        • As the discussion continues and each side presents their ideas, I will draw conclusions and ask about similarities between the two cases.
        • Once we have finished our discussions and brainstormed about our similarities I will ask the students to think about the final question- did we fix our mistakes?


      • Day Five:
        • The final assignment: As a closing assignment for the activity as well as an assessment tool for me I will have the students write a short paper. This paper will follow all of the rules for paper writing in my classroom and will be turned in electronically to the drop box.
        • The paper will focus on the comparisons that the class made between the process of the Articles of Confederation to the Constitution and the League of Nations to the United Nations. The paper must include their own analysis of the topic with supporting evidence found in the primary documents as well as secondary sources.




    Full explanation of the assessment method and/or scoring guide:
    • My assessment method for the majority of my dual credit classes is discussion and written papers. I believe that it is crucial that students are able to convey their thoughts and analysis in spoken and written form.
    • For this assignment the graded portion will be the final paper. The description of the paper is given above in the daily outline. The rubric for the assignment is attached. The rubric is not what I will probably use when I do this assignment but is something that anyone can modify for use in their classroom.
    • The main way that I am assessing this project is to really look at the depth of the analysis that is going into their writing and the correlations that they make and the ideas that they formulate as they study the topic. If they can see what I call the "Big Picture" and see the relationships between the two then the activity has been successful.