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Printable Page I'm Watching You 24/7 by Mirla N. Morrison
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students
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TIME ALLOTMENT: Four 45-minute class periods (not including homework)

The post-Renaissance world saw the nation-state mature and confront the issue of how to control the lives of its citizens. Two models of political organization, democratic and authoritarian, gradually developed. During the twentieth century, as some nations granted individuals and groups more and more rights, ideology and modern technology enabled authoritarian governments to gain ever more control, until community interest dominated the individual and totalitarianism was born. Although Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union have passed into history and there are cracks in the total control of the People's Republic of China, North Korea still retains all of the characteristics of totalitarianism. Still technically at war with the United Nations Forces, it poses a threat to the world at large with its developing nuclear program. At the same time it continues to threaten its perceived enemies. Very few foreigners have been able to visit and record life in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (the official name of North Korea), and the nation remains largely unknown to outsiders.

This lesson will begin with an introductory activity that draws on students' prior knowledge to discuss, "How does a society create social and political order?" After brainstorming the characteristics of totalitarianism, the class will be divided into groups to locate historical examples and create a Document Based Question to share with their classmates. Students will next examine excerpts from the WIDE ANGLE film "A State of Mind" (2003) to see how the characteristics of totalitarian societies still operate today in North Korea. As a culminating activity, students will analyze editorials on North Korea's nuclear program from newspapers around the world, formulate their own opinions, and write a Letter to the Editor of their local newspaper.

SUBJECT MATTER: Global History and Geography/World History


Students will be able to:
  • Utilize prior knowledge to compare and contrast various political systems throughout the world in terms of their ideologies, structures, functions, decision-making processes, citizenship roles, and political cultures;

  • Locate, categorize, and synthesize examples from multiple sources;

  • Analyze images and print documents to draw conclusions;

  • Create an original Document Based Essay Question;

  • Incorporate documents and outside information into an essay;

  • Analyze important events and developments in world history through the eyes and practices of those who were there;

  • Study an international dispute from multiple perspectives;

  • Present an informed viewpoint on a controversial issue in a Letter to the Editor.

New York State Learning Standards for Social Studies
Standards available online at http://www.emsc.nysed.gov/ciai/socst/pub/sslearn.pdf.

    Standard 2. World History (commencement)
    Performance Indicators:

      1. Students:

      • Analyze changing and competing interpretations of issues, events, and developments throughout world history.

      • Analyze evidence critically and demonstrate an understanding of how circumstances of time and place influence perspective.

    Standard 5. Civics, Citizenship, and Government (commencement)
    Performance Indicators:

      1. Students:

      • Compare various political systems with that of the United States in terms of ideology, structure, function, institutions, decision-making processes, citizenship roles, and political culture.

New York State Regents Global History and Geography Curriculum Tie-Ins
Curriculum available online at http://www.emsc.nysed.gov/ciai/socst/pub/sscore2.pdf

    Unit Six: A Half Century of Crisis and Achievement (l900-l945)

      B. Revolution and Change in Russia
        6. Stalin and the rise of a modern totalitarian state

      D. World War II: causes and impact
        2. The Nazi and Japanese states

    Unit Seven: The 20th Century Since l945

      A. Cold War Balance of Power
        6. Korean War

      D. Chinese Communist revolution
        3. Communism under Mao Zedong

    Unit Eight: Global Connections and Interactions

      D. Science and Technology
        8. Nuclear proliferation

Advanced Placement World History Curriculum Tie-Ins
Course Description available online at:
(Requires the Adobe Acrobat Reader)

    Major Developments:

      2. The World Wars, the Holocaust, the Cold War, nuclear weaponry, international organizations, and their impact on the global framework (globalization of diplomacy and conflict; global balance of power; reduction of European influence; the League of Nations, the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Nations, etc.)

      5. New forces of revolution and other sources of political innovation

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WIDE ANGLE, "A State of Mind" (2003) (selected clips)

One Party
Photo of Photo if poster of North Korean chief of state, Kim Jong Il.
Mass Games
Photo of North Korean children in the Mass Games.
All for One
Photo of a political poster in North Korea.
Arduous March
Photo of a grocery in North Korea.
Photo of farmers and workers in North Korea.

Web Sites:

For the Introductory Activity:

For the Culminating Activity:


For the class:

Per group of five students:

For each pair of students:

For each student:


Prior to teaching this lesson, you will need to:

Bookmark the Web sites used in the lesson on each computer in your classroom, or upload all links to an online bookmarking utility such as www.portaportal.com.

Preview all of the video clips and Web sites used in the lesson to make certain that they are appropriate for your students, currently available, and accessible from your classroom.

Download the video clips used in this lesson onto your hard drive, or prepare to stream the clips from your classroom. RealPlayer is needed to view the video clips. If your classroom computer does not have it, download RealPlayer for free at www.real.com.

Prepare an overhead transparency from the student organizer entitled "How Does a Society Create Social and Political Order?"

Post an enlarged "Characteristics of a Totalitarian Society" web diagram on the wall or board.

Make enough copies for the class of the student organizers:

  • "How Does a Society Create Social and Political Order?"
  • "Planning Pages for Group-Created Document Based Question on the Characteristics of Totalitarianism"
  • "Viewpoints on Nuclear North Korea"
Review the answers for "How Does a Society Create Social and Political Order?" and "Viewpoints on Nuclear North Korea" found in the Organizers for Students section of this lesson plan.

When using media, provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, a specific task to complete and/or information to identify during or after viewing of video segments, Web sites, or other multimedia elements.

Post the FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION questions included in the Introductory Activity on the wall, or write them on the board, or have them ready to project.

For additional background material on North Korea the teacher should consult the Web site for WIDE ANGLE: "A State of Mind," available online at http://www.pbs.org/wnet/wideangle/shows/northkorea/index.html.

If background on teaching with and creating Document Based Questions is needed, review the New York State Education Department's online resource, at http://www.emsc.nysed.gov/ciai/socst/dbq/ssindex.html.

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