Lesson Plan

Hollywood During the Cold War

Discover the connection between Hollywood and the "red scare."
Michelle N.
Classroom teacher
Lebanon Senior High School
Lebanon, PA
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My Grades 10, 11, 12
My Subjects English Language Arts, Arts
EdTech Mentor

Students will be able to...

  • Demonstrate correct knowledge and usage of vocabulary
  • Demonstrate understanding of the basic political / historical events of the early cold war years
  • Explain Hollywood's involvement in the Red Scare and predict how this will affect films of the 1950s
  • Draw conclusions (compare & contrast) from information about the Salem Witch Trials and the HUAC
English Language Arts
using supporting evidence
Social Studies
historical figures
Grades 10 - 12
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook

Free, Paid

Material Introduction via Vocabulary

  • Vocabulary Posts (8) -- Each post must include the following:
    • A working definition of the term
    • An original sentence using the term in context
    • A photo or symbol that can depict the vocabulary term
  • Images
    • Hollywood Ten (1)
    • Movie Posters (3) depicting 1950s Cold-War films

Terms [Manifesto, HUAC, Blacklist, Infiltrate, Subversive, Denounce, Hot bed, Communism]


2 Direct Instruction

Students will work in collaborative pairs to explore the events of the 1950s.

  • History Explorer
    • Students will use a graphic organizer to identify key ideas from the Cold War exhibit
  • History.com
    • Students will use a graphic organizer to identify 4-5 key ideas from featured articles
      • 1950s
      • HUAC
      • Red Scare
      • Hollywood 10
      • Salem Witch Trials

3 Guided Practice

Guided collaborative activity.

  • Students will join the class BaiBoard 
    • Each student will contribute one fact from each resource (cold war article)
      • Students should understand that it is okay to repost ideas
    •  Any concept that is posted multiple times should be stacked (like a bar graph) -- this will allow quick feedback as to what students believed to be the most important ideas.
    • Students should provide oral commentary as requested by instructor
  • Instructor should clarify ideas, give examples or work to fill gaps of knowledge
  • Instructor should make notes available to students via Schoology or other web-based platform

* BaiBoard can be substituted for SmartNotebook or similar software for whole-class instruction

4 Independent Practice

Free, Paid

Individual Work / Summative Assessment

Students will create an infographic of key ideas (notes) learned about the cold war and Hollywood's involvement

  • PictoChart.com
    •  Facts (4 to 5) from each topic
      • 1950s
      • Red Scare
      • HUAC
      • Hollywood Ten
    • Images (5-10)
      • Movie Posters
      • Iconic Images 
    • Salem Witch Trial Compare & Contrast
  •  Provide rubric & Include students in creating grading criteria

Students should publish their infographic to Schoology (or other web-platform) or email to instructor

5 Wrap-Up

Extension writing activity.

  • Students will create a Wordle from an extended-learning response
    • Collins Writing Type 3
      • Prompt: Predict how the people, events and climate of Cold War America will influence the types of films being made by Hollywood in the 1950s.
    • FCAs (Focused Correction Areas)
      • Provides at least two (2) predictions regarding the types of films Hollywood will produce.
      • Cites at least four (4) pieces of evidence to support the predictions.
      • Is at least 10 sentences in length.
  • Students should upload a .pdf or image to Schoology or other web-based platform