Framing Question: Does a U.S. President have an obligation to comply with an Senate subpoena?
Note- This module is organized around four basic steps essential to an inquiry. Please tailor these steps to the needs of your students.
Step 1: Frame the inquiry.
1. Students should restate the inquiry question in their own words, establishing exactly what it is asking. Students might work with a neighbor to predict what possible perspectives might be available on the question.
2. An essential component to discussion of this topic is the historical context. Ideally, this lesson would follow discussion of the end of World War II (including Yalta and Potsdam), the changing relationship between the UDSA and the Soviet Union, and the impact of McCarthyism during the Cold War. Regardless of where the lesson falls in the scope and sequence of the course, it is important that students understand the larger context. In addition to the framing question, students should generate a list of questions that they need to know regarding Cold War politics, American loyalty, and McCarthyism in order to proceed. These questions should include background knowledge they anticipate needing or related questions that they find interesting. Students will use these questions to help guide how they examine the sources and what additional resources they might request.
Examples of questions for this lesson might include:
*Why was Truman committed to containment?
*Why did Truman find it necessary to establish the Loyalty Program?
*Why was Truman uneasy about the Loyalty Program?
*How did the public react to the Loyalty Program?
*How did foreign policy developments between 1945 and 1950 shape Cold War fears at home?
*In what ways does the Loyalty Program reflect the Cold War fears at home?
*How did the Loyalty Program impact government workers?
*How is the Loyalty Program, which was practiced in the Executive Branch of the federal government, relate to the rise of Senator Joseph McCarthy in the Legislative Branch?
*Who were Harry Dexter White, Mrs. Beatley, and Whitaker Chambers?
*What is the legacy of the Employee Loyalty Program?
*How might the Loyalty Program relate to current issues?
3. Discuss the above questions as possible historical context points. Students should keep in mind the overall tenor of the Cold War as they examine the documents and the essential question. Perhaps have students create a short time-line of some of the foreign policy developments from 1945-1950 so they can place the documents in context of those other issues.
4. The background essay focuses primarily on the Loyalty Program and McCarthyism as it relates to the larger context. Teachers may wish to present this essay (and other sources if desired) to give students context for the inquiry. Consider the following strategies to make this effective:
a. The students or teacher might read the essay aloud, establishing the main point of the reading.
b. The teacher may choose to lecture the material in the background essay or assign it to be read individually.
c. Revisit the question. How does this information change or expand our understanding of what the question is asking? How does it affect our initial understanding?
d. Student should re-read the essay individually, looking for information that might provide answers or clues to their original questions. Students might be asked to record their questions and answers in a class notebook.
e. Other activities might involve:
i. Opening up the document by researching topics that are new or confusing.
ii. Using context to infer meaning of new words/phrases
iii. Compare the essay to other sources (textbook, articles) on the same topic.
f. Create a graphic organizer that might help organize evidence collected from the sources. Students may wish to add information from the essay to the foreign policy time line.
Step 2: Go to the sources.
Note- each source should be looked at separately for information that will help reveal perspectives on the question. Consider the following steps with each source, understanding that students will need less assistance as they repeat the process.
1. All sources have a story. They were produced by a person at a time and place in history. The instructor should model how to analyze these circumstances in order to predict their influence on the content of the source. These include:
a. Examining the creator, predicting what this person might create based on who they are.
b. Considering the intended audience of the source, predicting how the content might be influenced its format and purpose.
c. Brainstorm the context of the source, paying particular attention to the events, attitudes, and forces at work at that time and place.
2. Use all of this information to predict the reliability and utility of the source. History students should recognize that all sources are worth investigating even if they represent a viewpoint not recognized by themselves or other sources.
3. Students should view sources like a detective looks at a crime scene. Each source should add information towards the questions established in step 1. To support student success consider the following steps:
a. Students look over the source to get a general idea of the content.
b. Determine whether or not predictions were accurate.
c. Ask questions, researching or working with other students to clarify confusion.
d. Examine the format of the source. If necessary, model the kinds of questions to ask or details to pay attention to that are specific to that format.
e. Categorize the source based on its perspective. Which possible answer does this source support?
f. Answer and elaborate on the discussion questions provided for each source.
Step 3: Review the evidence.
Note- By reviewing sources, students should have gathered many ideas that are relevant to the question. This step allows learners to look at this evidence and decide what it actually reveals. What is the best interpretation based on the evidence?
1. Go back to Step 1 and review the possible interpretations of the answer predicted by the class. How many of those panned out? What additional interpretations were exposed through the rest of the learning?
2. In groups of four to eight, students should use evidence collected to identify multiple or competing interpretations to the question. Each student or pair of students should analyze one of the four attached documents.
3. Direct students to answer the guide questions which accompany each of the documents. They should elaborate on the answers and include key details from the documents.
4. Small group discussion of the evidence:
a. After students have categorized the documents, facilitate small-group discussions of their categorization. Students should discuss why they categorized a document as they did on their graphic organizers, using specific details from the documents to support their categorization.
b. Following discussion of categorization, students may begin to grapple with the essential question in their groups. What does the evidence show in terms of a response to the framing question?
5. Socratic Seminar: Pose the framing question as a class discussion prompt. As a facilitator, teacher may wish to remind students of importance of context to this discussion. Remind students that the transition from World War II to Cold War was so quick that Truman and his advisors were acting quickly on many decisions. Also discuss the political rivalries of the Democrats vs. the Republicans at the time and the animosity Truman held for his republican rivals. How does that shape student opinion on the framing question?
Step 4: Answer the prompt.
Note- By communicating an answer to the framing question students are accomplishing several thinking tasks at once. The teacher does not have to assess everything a student does but should be aware of the importance to model and/or provide quality examples so that this format doesn’t get in the way of students sharing what they have learned from the documents. If you have been working specific types of writing or speaking, consider working this step around those goals.