What do Cubans want for their future?
Second edition. December 2020.
PREVIEW THIS UNIT. The preview includes the table of contents, a student reading excerpt, and one lesson plan. PREVIEW ALL UNITS. Additional unit descriptions for the Current Issues Series that summarize the historical context, student readings, and skill development are available on this MIRO BOARD.

Throughout its history, Cuba has often captured the attention of the world. In recent years, Cuba has embarked upon a series of reforms that are gradually but fundamentally changing the country. The announcement in 2015 to normalize Cuba-U.S. relations also signifies a historic shift. Outsiders have highly diverging views about Cuba and its history, particularly since the 1959 Revolution. Cubans also have very different opinions about their country’s history and future. History, Revolution, and Reform: New Directions for Cuba helps students step into the shoes of ordinary Cubans and consider Cuba’s future. The unit is divided into three parts. Each part includes:

  • Student readings
  • Accompanying study guides, graphic organizers, and key terms
  • Lessons aligned with the readings that develop analytical skills (including at least one that focuses on building geographic literacy) and can be completed in one or more periods
  • Videos that feature leading experts

This unit also includes an Options Role Play as the key lesson and additional synthesis lessons that allow students to synthesize new knowledge for assessment. You do not need to use the entire unit; feel free to select what suits your classroom needs.

“All of the Choices curriculum is great. I especially like the Cuba unit because of its scope of history and even-handedness in exploring differing perspectives.” – Colin, HS History and Humanities Teacher, WA

Part I: Colonization and Independence

Part I focuses on the influence of Spanish colonialism on Cuba and Cuba’s struggles for independence. There are two lessons aligned with Part I: 1) José Martí and His Legacy, and 2) The Dance of the Millions.

Part II: The Cuban Revolution

Part II surveys the changes the 1959 Revolution brought to Cuba. There is one lesson aligned with Part II: Operation Carlota.

Part III: The Special Period and Cuba Today

Part III focuses on the Special Period and Cuba today. There is one lesson aligned with Part III: The Special Period: Cultural Expressions.


José Martí and His Legacy

Using a variety of primary sources as well as a timeline and map, students assess the contested legacy of José Martí among Cubans.

The Dance of the Millions

Students analyze economic data from Cuba's "dance of the millions" in 1920 and compare the prices of Cuban sugar to those of commodities in Germany that same year.

Operation Carlota

Using a variety of Cuban, U.S., Russian, South African, Angolan, and European sources, students assess competing perspectives of Cuba's foreign policy in Angola.

The Special Period: Cultural Expressions

Using numerous sources from the 1990s, including literature, hip-hop lyrics, jokes, and art, students explore the relationship between politics and popular culture and gain a deeper understanding of what life was like for Cubans during the Special Period.

The Options Role Play

The Options Role Play is the key lesson in the unit. Working collaboratively, students take on the roles of Cuban citizens and explore three different options for Cuba's future in a role-play activity.

Cuban American Experiences

Synthesis Lesson: Using excerpts of Cuban American memoirs, students present perspectives representing a wide array of Cuban American experiences and points of view.

Assessment Using Documents: Fidel Castro’s Legacy

Synthesis Lesson: Students synthesize information from primary and secondary sources and provide a written analysis of Fidel Castro’s legacy.

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