Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Geographic Context for War
Sherry Schirmer
US History
Time Frame:
30 minutes total in-class time and 60 minutes out-of-class lab time
US History Since 1945

Grade Levels:

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:
  • Given a map of Korea, student teams will label the map showing location of mountains, average high and low temperatures, names of neighboring countries, population centers, and location of cities.
  • For each label, individual students will be prepared to explain verbally, the significance of each geographic feature to the conduct of war in Korea.

  • I need an introductory activity to intro a sub-unit on the Korean war.
  • I will use this activity as an “anticipatory set” to spark curiosity in a topic, to give students confidence in their ability to master a subject, and to tap students’ interest in war as a topic.

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

Identify and characterize major periods in United States and World history using relevant historical context; [including political, economic, social, religious, and cultural institutions].




2. Continuity and change in the history of Missouri, the United States and the world 

5. The major elements of geographical study and analysis (such as location, place, movement, regions) and their relationships to changes in society and environment

 6. Relationships of the individual and groups to institutions and cultural traditions


 7. The use of tools of social science inquiry (such as surveys, statistics, maps, documents)




Benchmark 3: The student uses a working knowledge and understanding of individuals, groups, ideas, developments, and turning points in the era of the Cold War (1945-1990).  

3. (A) evaluates the foreign policies of Truman and Eisenhower during the Cold War (e.g., establishment of the United Nations, containment, NATO, Truman Doctrine, Berlin Blockade, Korean War, Iron Curtain, U-2 incident).  

Benchmark 4: The student uses a working knowledge and understanding of individuals, groups, ideas, developments, and turning points in contemporary United States history (since 1990).

1. (K) Examines the relationship of the United States to the rest of the world in the post Cold War era (e.g., domestic and international terrorism, United States as the single superpower, United States involvement in the Middle East conflict, spread and resistance to United States popular culture).

Benchmark 5: The student engages in historical thinking skills.  

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

2. (A) develops historical questions on a specific topic in United States 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 U.S. history to develop a credible interpretation of the event, evaluating on its meaning (e.g., uses provided primary

Benchmark 1: Geographic Tools and Location: The student uses maps, graphic representations, tools, and technologies to locate, use, and present information about people, places, and environments.

1. (A)Interprets maps and other graphic representations to analyze United States and world issues (e.g., urban vs. urban areas, development vs. conservation, land use in the world vs. local community, nuclear waste disposal, relocation of refugees).

Benchmark 4: Human Systems: The student understands how economic, political, cultural, and social processes interact to shape patterns of human populations, interdependence, cooperation, and conflict.

4. (A) analyzes the purpose and characteristics of settlements (e.g., village vs. town vs. city, cities in development vs. developed countries, rise of megalopolis edge cities and metropolitan corridors, regional characteristics of cities, impact of transportation technology, increasing number of ethnic enclaves).

5.(K) gives examples of how cultural cooperation and conflict are involved in shaping the distribution of and connections between cultural, political, and economic spaces on Earth (e.g., cultural: Hindu vs. Muslims in India; political: International Court of Justice and Hong Kong; economic: World Trade Organization).

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
  • Books and articles available in the Hooley-Bundschu Library of Avila University [to be identified by students]
  • Internet resources

Primary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
  • Reproducible map of Korea from the activity book, Learning About Korea.

Full description of activity or assignment.

Teacher will

  • Write up instructions to students.
  • Make map and instructions available on-line via Angel system.
  • Schedule the activity on the course syllabus.
  • Distribute maps and instructions to students
  • Conduct –in-class discussion of significance of geography to war strategy.
  • Score maps and contributions to discussion.

Students will

  • Divide responsibility for geographical features among team members
  • Locate relevant information in secondary sources.
  • Make notes in prep for discussion over impact on war strategy of each target feature.
  • Label maps.
  • Contribute to discussion of significance.
  • Hand in maps by team.

Full explanation of the assessment method and/or scoring guide:
  • Score maps for accuracy and completeness.
  • Score contributions to discussion, giving students one point each for any contribution to discussion and 2 points for each “substantive” contribution.  Students scoring 3 points or better may apply their discussion points to the next unit exam.