North and South Korea
World Issues
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Lesson Plans

Lesson Plans

North Korea's recent withdrawal from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty has alarmed nations all over the globe. In this special News In-Depth, your students will learn why the move was significant and how the U.S. and other countries are responding. Students will also get valuable background information on the treaty itself, North and South Korea, and the nature of nuclear weapons.

Nuclear proliferation can be a complicated—and frightening—topic to tackle in the classroom. That's why the stories in this online report are designed to address students' concerns and provide age-appropriate context. You can further help your class digest the complex news by discussing the issue in class and making sure students understand what they have read. The reproducible activities and lesson plans below will help get you started.

Lesson 1: Nuke Numbers

Materials: PDF reproducible Nuke Numbers

Curriculum Connections: math, current events

Objective: Students will identify the nations that have produced nuclear weapons and understand the difference between two types of nuclear arms (strategic and tactical).

Getting Ready: Together, read the online story titled "Who Has Nukes?" Spotlight the main ideas of this story. These include: (1) that only a handful of nations possess nuclear weapons; and (2) that most nations have agreed to fight the further growth of nuclear arms for fear that these weapons might get into dangerous hands.

Have students locate the United States, Russia, China, France, United Kingdom, India, Israel, and Pakistan on a map. Highlight these nations with pushpins or stickers.

What to Do:

  1. Distribute the reproducible and read the descriptions of strategic versus tactical weapons. Which do students think are a greater concern to the global community?
  2. Have students calculate the total number of nuclear arms each nation on the chart possesses. Point out the difficulty in knowing precisely how many each nation has.
  3. Have students tackle the questions beneath the chart and check their answers.
  4. Follow up with a discussion of the data. Do any of the figures on the chart surprise students? You may find that students are surprised by the great number of nuclear weapons built by the United States and Russia. Explain that the two nations were involved in a decades-long arms race called the Cold War. Invite students to interview their parents and grandparents about facts and feelings they remember from the Cold War, and to present their findings to the class.
[Answers to PDF: Chart data: China 370; France 350; India 60; Israel 200; Pakistan 48; Russia 10,000; United Kingdom 185; United States 10,656. Questions: 1. U.S.; 2. 535; 3. Strategic, 6,636 more; 4. Two, Pakistan and India; 5. 32; 6. 2/5, or 40 percent.]

Lesson 2: Get the Whole Scoop!

Materials: PDF reproducible Get the Whole Scoop

Curriculum Connections: language arts/reading comprehension, fact and opinion, cause and effect, current events

Objective: Students will gain a deeper understanding of the controversy surrounding North Korea by identifying causes and effects and separating fact from opinion in related news stories.

Getting Ready: Introduce or review the concepts of cause/effect and fact/opinion. An effect is an event that happens. A cause explains why the event happened. A fact is a statement that can be proven true. An opinion is a statement that reflects how someone thinks or feels. Explain that the ability to recognize causes and effects and the ability to separate facts from opinions are keys to understanding what we read, especially current events.

What to Do:

  1. Distribute the reproducible and review the directions together. To make sure students understand what they are about to do, provide some examples of each concept, then have students generate their own examples: Cause/effect:
    My alarm never went off (cause), so I was late to school (effect). Fact/opinion:
    FACT: It is winter.
    OPINION: Spring is more fun than winter.
  2. Have students complete both sections of the reading-comprehension exercise. Check answers using the key below.
Extension Activity: Help students identify words and phrases that signal causes, effects, facts, and opinions. For example, sentences that describe cause-and-effect relationships often contain words like since, because, thus, and so. Readers can often recognize opinion statements because they tend to use words like best, worst, should, should not, think, and believe.

Answers to PDF:
1. Cause: North Korea…treaty; Effect: Nations…alarmed.
2. Cause: Knowledge…get; Effect: only a handful...years.
3. Cause: North Korea…weapons; Effect: it...threat.
4. U.S. ally…North Korea; Effect: it…North Korea.
5. Cause: It…Communism; Effect: North Korea…South Korea.
6. Cause: India…treaty; Effect: they…nations.
7. F; 8. O; 9. O; 10. F; 11. F; 12. O.