Colin Powell, a New Adlai Stevenson?

The Cuban Missile Crisis

Lesson Plan Using OnLine Resources


Students will compare and contrast two historically significant presentations given to the United Nations, one by Adlai Stevenson in 1962 and one by Colin Powell in 2003. Students will view the evidence brought forth by the two important figures in the U.S. government and explore the impact each presentation had on U.S. security and the decision whether to go to war.


Students will:


Websites students could explore for their primary source research

In the Classroom

Day 1

The Hook: Tell students that Colin Powell was compared to Adlai Stevenson when he gave his speech to the UN on February 5, 2003. Distribute the sound analysis worksheets (two for each student) and play for students the speeches given by each by clicking on the following links: (Stevenson) and (Powell)

Invite students to make initial comparisons between the speeches, encouraging them to cite evidence from the speeches as they do so.

Groupwork: Divide students into groups of three or four and distribute the student handout to each student. Instruct student groups to fill out the chart based on their readings of the speeches' text. You may want to have a brief discussion about what might constitute a strength or weakness of a speech. Ask students to present their findings to the class, following the rubric.

Day 2

Groupwork: Instruct groups of students to complete one of the options described on their handout.

Presentations: Invite students to present their findings and their option projects to the whole class, if appropriate and time permits.

Class Discussion and Closure: Lead a discussion with students about their findings. Were the two speeches similar? In what ways? In what ways were they different? Given what we know about the events following each speech, evaluate the speeches. Which speech was more effective? Why? In one case the adversary and the U.S. we are able to negotiate a resolution; in the other the U.S. went to war. Did the speeches cause these different outcomes? Did they impact the outcome? Remind students that the purpose of the lesson is not to compare the two men but rather to explore their speeches and the effects of their presentations.

Extra Challenge: "Then and Now"

Ask students to write an essay addressing the following question: How do the lessons learned from previous wars affect American support for war, and how does this support (or lack thereof) play a role in decision making today? Explore previous wars, for example Vietnam or the first Persian Gulf War. What were the most important lessons learned? Explore the effects of those lessons on the decision to go to war with Iraq in 2003.


See assignment rubric


This lesson plan can work in conjunction with the Choices unit The Cuban Missile Crisis: Considering its Place in Cold War History. Teachers may wish to assign this lesson after completing the unit. You may also find Crisis with Iraq (pre-Iraq War) and the Teaching with the News newer resources on Iraq, both found from Supplemental Resources on Iraq, useful for background information for students.

Teachers may choose to do only Day One of this lesson plan (including a class discussion at the end) for younger students or if time restraints exist.

This lesson was developed by:

Doug Craig—Windham High School, Willimantic, Connecticut

Bill Deardoff—Burke High School, Omaha, Nebraska

Heather Quagliaro—Metropolitan Learning Center, Bloomfield, Connecticut

Alice Roberts—Millard Central Montessori Middle School, Omaha, Nebraska