For teachers of Social Studies/History, the stories embedded in the primary source materials can provide links between U.S. History and World History and shed new light on the subjects that are already in the existing curricula: the impact of the Great Depression on the ideological tendencies of US citizens, totalitarian threats to democracy, the origins of World War II, debates about the ever-present tension in U.S. political culture between isolationism and interventionism, the impact of immigration, and the unexpected consequences that led to the Cold War. ALBA’s primary source materials are especially productive when taught in the context of the 1930s (rise of fascism), the 1940s (the origins of World War II), and the 1950s (Cold War, McCarthyism). ALBA’s lesson plans based on contrasting primary source documents provide a wonderful opportunity for Document-Based Questions (DBQs).  (See also: Why Teach the Spanish Civil War?)

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Teaching the Common Core with Primary Documents

teaching-common-core-primary-documentsALBA works with teachers in Social Studies, English Language Arts, and Spanish to design lesson plans based on compelling, accesible primary source documents -texts, images, audio- that will incite student interest while meeting common core state standards in reading, writing, speaking & listening and media skills.

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The US and the Spanish Civil War: A Primer for Teachers and Students

10-minute version

See also: Powerpoint Introduction to the Spanish Civil War (40 min.)

Lesson Plans (click on the title to see the whole plan)

Title 1. An American Soldier Reflects on Fascism and Slavery in a Letter From Spain
Subject U.S. history
Level(s) High school
Standards CCSS-ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.2 – CCSS-ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.1
Keywords African-Americans, rise of fascism, Nazism, origins of World War II, civil rights, antisemitism, genocide.
Title 2. F.D.R.’s Quarantine Speech and Media Reaction
Subject U.S. history
Level(s) High school
Standards CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12. – 2CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.3
Keywords Bill of Rights, freedom of the press, isolationism, origins of World War II, rise of fascism (in Germany, Italy, and Japan), Second Sino-Japanese War, commander-in-chief power and diplomatic power of the president.
Title 3. An American Soldier Writes Home From A Hospital in Spain
Subject U.S. history
Level(s) High School (standards below aligned with grade 11)
Standards CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.2 – CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.4 – CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.1 – CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.3 – CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.6 – CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.8
Keywords Isolationism, rise of fascism, rise of Nazism, rise of communism, post traumatic stress disorder, shell shock, civilian bombing, causes of World War II.
Title 4. Two Perspectives on the Spanish Civil War
Subject U.S. or European History
Level(s) 11 or 12 – Note: This lesson is oriented toward advanced learners, perhaps in an honors or Advanced Placement setting.
Standards CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.1
Keywords Rise of fascism, Nazism, communism, anarchy.
Title 5. Citizens’ Reactions to U.S. Foreign Policy Between the Wars
Subject U.S. History, European History
Level(s) High School
Standards CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.2 , CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.6 , CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.8
Keywords Isolationism, origins of World War II, rise of fascism, rise of communism, Great Depression, League of Nations, Briand-Kellogg Pact
Title 6. Identity and Commitment: Jewish Volunteers in the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War
Subject U.S. History, World History, European History, Civics, Government
Level(s) Grades 9-12
Standards CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.4, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.6, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.1, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.9
Keywords Fascism, Nazism, Hitler, Mussolini, Holocaust
Title 7. For Whom the Bell Tolls: Can Isolationism Be Dangerous?
Subject World History
Level(s) 9
Standards CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.1  —  CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.9  —  LAFS.910.RI.4.10SS.912.W.7.7  —  SS.912.W.9.5  —  HE.912.C.1
Keywords Intervention/non-intervention, fascism, communism, epidemic/pandemic, isolationism, Neutrality Acts,Abraham Lincoln Brigade, American Medical Bureau, Doctors Without Borders, World Health Organization (WHO), Ebola hemorrhagic fever, quarantine, Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
Title 8. African Americans in the Lincoln Brigade
Subject U.S. History
Level(s) 9-12
Standards CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.4, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.6, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.9 , CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.10, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.7, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.9
Keywords Racism, prejudice, lynching, civil rights, fascism, Nazism, Communism, civil war, isolationism, invasion of Ethiopia
Title 9. Spanish Civil War Posters: Art and Propaganda in Republican Spain
Subject World History, 20th Century History, Civics, Art History
Level(s) 9-12
Standards CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.2, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.2, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.7
Keywords Propaganda, origins of World War II, rise of fascism, rise of communism, authoritarianism, republic
Title 10. Pictorial Narratives From Children In War – Analyzing the Effect of War on Children
Subject U.S. History, European History, World History
Level(s) 9-12
Standards CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.7
Keywords Rise of fascism, civil war, refugees, targeting civilians in war
Title 11. Lincoln Brigade Veterans Battle Political Discrimination During World War II – An Analysis of Personal Letters
Subject U.S. History
Level(s) 9-10 (based on Common Core standards applied to this lesson)
Standards CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.4, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.6, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.8
Keywords Discrimination, fascism, communism, Comintern, republic, Red Scare, subversive activity, internment camps
Title 12. Isolationism to Interventionism: Examining U.S. Policy Toward Spain Using Primary and Secondary Documents
Subject U.S. History or more specifically Post-World War II U.S. History
Level(s) 9-12
Standards CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.4 , CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.1 , CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.9
Keywords Fascism, Communism, Isolationism, Neutrality, Interventionism, Internationalism, World War II, Cold War
Title 13. Abraham Lincoln Brigade volunteers, anti-Communism and Civil Rights during the McCarthy era
Subject U.S. History, European and Global History, Law, Civics, Government
Level(s) 10-12
Standards CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.2 , CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.6 , CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.8
Keywords McCarthy Era, The McCarran Act, Testimony, Subversive Activities Control Board (SACB), Testimony, Red Scare, First Amendment, anti-Communism, Civil Rights, subversive, ideology.(For an optional second unit, or additional lesson on Brown v. Board of Ed , use key terms: Supreme Court, Majority opinion, unanimous, First Amendment, Plessy v. Ferguson, Precedent, Separate but Equal, Separation of Powers, Brown v. Board of Education)
Title 14. Using Complex Texts to Analyze Anti-War Responses to U.S. Intervention in Vietnam
Subject U.S. History
Level(s) 9-12
Standards CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.1 or  CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.1CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.6 or  CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.6
Keywords Vietnam War, Communism, Fascism, Cold War, Isolationism, Interventionism, Civil Rights, Great Society
Title 15. Children’s Drawings of War
Subject English/Language Arts/Social Studies
Grade(s) 9-12
Standards CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.9CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.7
Keywords Fascism, Nazism, Guernica, Geneva Convention
Title 16. Changes to the Geneva Convention of 1929
Subject International History/Social Studies
Grade(s) 9-12
Standards CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.1CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.4CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.2
Keywords International Committee of the Red Cross, Geneva Conventions, human rights
Title 17. The Nuremberg War Crimes Trial
Subject International History/Social Studies
Grade(s) 9-12
Standards CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.1CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.6CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.1CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.9
Keywords Nuremberg tribunal, crimes against humanity, genocide, United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Title 18. Bombing Civilians
Subject International History/Social Studies
Grade(s) 9-12
Standards CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.2CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.7CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.9
Keywords Geneva Convention, Nazism, Nuremberg War Crimes Trial, Hague Convention, International Committee of the Red Cross, Human Rights, Holocaust