Economies in Transition
Lesson Plan: Economic Module
Four to five 90 minute class periods and a DBQ
1) Class set of the primary sources:
Document 1- Overall Gross Domestic Product per capita in selected countries, 1980-1989
Document 2- Infant Mortality Rates in selected countries
Document 3- Fertility and Abortion Rates in Czechoslovakia
Document 4-“Is Poland Lost?”
Document 5- Czechoslovakia Macroeconomic Indicators
Document 6-“Radio Free Europe”
Document 7- Trabant photo
Document 8- Yugoslavia GNP by region
[note: to access these materials, go to the primary source link to the left or primary sources]
2) Students will need to read any World History and European History textbook which contains a solid section on the Eastern and Western Europe during and after the Cold War.
The Eastern European countries that will be used in this lesson as case studies will be Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Yugoslavia.
The Western European countries that will be used in this lesson as case studies will be Greece, Portugal and Western Germany.
By the end of the lesson, students will be able to:
1. Identify the factors affecting a country’s infant mortality rate and a country’s life expectancy rate
2. Analyze how a country’s political and economic systems (communist, capitalistic or a combination/mixture) can affect a country’s GNP and infant mortality rates
3. Compare and contrast the differing infant mortality rates and GNPs between Western and Eastern European economies between 1970 up until the fall of communism
4. Predict how the fall of communism may affect GNP and infant mortality rates in both Eastern European countries, Western European countries and the USA
In the students’ World or European History survey textbook prior to the start of the lesson, students will read the chapter or chapters which contain the basic political and economic background history of Eastern and Western European countries during the Cold War with a special emphasis on the 1970’s to the late 1980’s.
Day One: Economic and Political Surveys of Eastern Bloc Countries
1) Share the photo of the Trabant with class without the car’s explanation which accompanies the source. Ask the students what they think of the car. Would this be their idea of their ideal car? Would they be okay with it if it was given to them at a very cheap price? What are their expectations for their first car? Would this be it? Where and when do they think this car was made? Then share with the students the background information given in the source. Show a couple of BMW models from West Germany at this time. Ask the same questions.
2) Ask the students the following questions as an overview for the next 3-4 block periods. Assign each group one of the introductory questions. Tie these questions into the class discussion of the Trabant car.
What did the countries on both sides of the political fence promise to offer to their citizens? (Day One)
How did the East promote they would deliver the lifestyle of communism? How did the West project it would offer a better way of life for its citizens? (Day One)
What would be the factors, records, statistics would you would want to analyze to see how well the competing political and economic systems were actually doing? (Day Two)
What type of sources would you want to look at? When looking at official government documents from both the Eastern bloc and Western countries what would you be careful to analyze? Why? (Day Two)
What factors do you think will be the most important in leading to the differences between economic and political stability in the East and the West? (Day Three)
Will all the Eastern bloc countries’ statistics be the same? Why or why not? What could lead to these differences in growth patterns? (Day Three)
How about the Western countries? What could possibly account for the differing rates of economic growth in the West? (Day Three)
3) From the information in their textbooks students will complete a comparison chart between Eastern and Western European countries based on political, economic, and social differences. The countries to be analyzed for this activity will be Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Yugoslavia, Portugal, West Germany and Greece. Student groups will be matched as an expert group for both one Eastern and one Western European nation. The following pairings are suggested.
Group 1 Hungary (Radio Free Europe)
Group 2 Czechoslovakia (Czech Macroeconomic Indicators)
Group 3 Poland. (“Is Poland Lost?”)
Group 4 Yugoslavia. (Yugoslavia GNP by region)
Group 1 Portugal
Group 2 West Germany
Group 3 Greece.
Group 4 West Germany.
4) After the students have shared their chart information on the differences between the East and the West, each group will be assigned to read the next work day the primary source article which corresponds to their country. Each Eastern European country will have two groups researching and analyzing documents pertaining to that particular country.
Day Two: Research and Data Collection
1) Reinforce the two guiding questions which will be the focus of Day Two:
What would be the factors, records, statistics would you would want to analyze to see how well the competing political and economic systems were actually doing?
What type of sources would you want to look at? When looking at official government documents from both the Eastern bloc and Western countries what would you be careful to analyze? Why?
2) All of the student groups will analyze Document #2 Infant Mortality Rates. Students will be asked what factors will contribute to a lower infant mortality rate and student will be asked to compose a list of those factors. Next as a class students will analyze the data in the chart, and each group will pay close attention to their selected Eastern European country.
3) After analyzing the differences between the Eastern and Western infant mortality rates, students will then analyze the Document #1-Overall GDP in selected countries. Students will use APPARTS for their analysis, and the students will analyze data for their paired Eastern and Western European countries. A definition of how GNP differs from GDP will be explained before students start working. Students will be asked how any political and economic data from their textbooks may explain the information in the chart.
As this activity will take place at the end of the year, students will be quite familiar with analyzing documents. They will be using APPARTS.
A-Author: Who created the source? What do you know about the author? What is the author’s point of view?
P-Place and Time: Where and when was the source produced? How might this affect the meaning of the source?
P-Prior Knowledge: Beyond information about the author and the context of its creation, what do you know that would help you further understand the primary source? For example, do you recognize any symbols and recall what they represent?
A-Audience: For whom was the source created and how might this affect the reliability of the source?
R-Reason: Why was the source produced at the time it was produced?
T-The Main Idea: What point is the source trying to convey?
S-Significance: Why is this source important? What inferences can you draw from this document? Ask yourself, “So what?” in relation to the question asked.
4) Students will then read in class and APPARTS the document which comes from country of expertise. Students will also be asked how the source would add to their analysis of their country’s GNP and/or infant mortality/life expectancy rates. [note: see above list, Day Two, for Eastern Country's respective document]
Day Three: Comparisons Between the East and the West
1) Review the focus questions with the students for this day’s lessons.
What factors do you think will be the most important in leading to the differences between economic and political stability in the East and the West?
Will all the Eastern bloc countries’ statistics be the same? Why or why not? What could lead to these differences in growth patterns?
How about the Western countries? What could possibly account for the differing rates of economic growth in the West?
2) Students will share their data from the articles read the previous day. Each group will report how the article and data may explain their Eastern European country’s economic growth, infant mortality/life expectancy rates and GNP. Then students will share any insights about their Western country’s same data and compare.
3) Students will be asked to research at the school’s library two more sources that might contribute to understanding the infant mortality rate, life expectancy and/or GDP of their Eastern European country and their Western European country. They will be asked to make fifteen copies of each resource. Students may want to find documents about the infant mortality rates for Greece, West Germany and Portugal; these statistics are not found in Document #2.
1) Students will distribute a copy of their new sources to each group. Students will be asked to APPART three to four new documents.
2) As a group, the students will use 6-7 sources to create a DBQ question about the economic growth rates of the Eastern European countries. They will have the eight sources used during the lesson and four new sources from their classmates to choose from for the assignment. Students will be asked to compose the question, create an acceptable thesis and explain groupings the documents could be placed.
3) As closure for the lesson unit, the class will predict which Eastern and Western European countries will be the most successful economically and politically after the fall of communism. Students will also be asked to predict how these countries will compare to the United States.
Tesoro High School
Santa Margarita, California