The Berlin Wall Lesson Plan

  This lesson is designed to be facilitated in an eleventh grade World History class. However, it can also be taught in a German class or in an interdisciplinary World History/ German class. The activities and texts within this lesson are designed to give students a brief overview of the Berlin Wall from its construction in 1961 to its demise in 1989. Key vocabulary terms include: World War II, Germany, communist, Soviet, democracy, United States, Berlin, the Berlin Wall, German Democratic Republic, the Cold War, Ronald Reagan, and Mikhail Gorbachev.

Goals / Aims

1.) Students will gain a rudimentary knowledge of the Berlin Wall (i.e. they will understand what it was and why it was constructed.)

2.) Students will become apprentice historians by engaging in an inquiry process.


1.) Students will generate hypotheses to explain a text.

2.) Students will display comprehension and analysis skills during inquiry and hypothesis revision sections of the lesson.

3.) After viewing data, students will revise hypotheses and come to a conclusion.


SMART board, SMART Notebook software, Internet connection, personal computer, The Ghosts of Berlin, excerpt from Michael Thaxton�s thesis paper, hypotheses worksheet, transcript of Ronald Reagan�s Brandenburg Gate speech


Ladd, B. (1997). Ghosts of Berlin. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. pp. 18-20.


A. Introduction-

1. Focus students� attention to the SMARTBoard or other device playing the video.

2. Play a Youtube clip of the Berlin Wall coming down in 1989. It should be approximately 2 minutes long. Be sure to not make any comments or start discussing the clip before the students view it.

B. Development-

1.) After the clip is over, distribute sheets to students with place for them to write down notes for the upcoming task.

2.) Ask students to generate a hypothesis of what they just viewed. Prompt them with the following questions if necessary:

What is going on here?

Why were the people cheering?

3.) Type their suggested hypothesis into the numbered document in the SMARTBoard file for the lesson.

4.) After hypotheses have been given, show World Map and ask a student if he or she can locate Germany on the map.

5.) Once that is completed, show the map of Germany post World War II broken into sections, including Berlin split into sections. If students do not mention it, highlight that Berlin is surrounded by the Soviet-controlled portion of Germany.

C. Practice-

1.) Break the students into four even groups.

2.) Provide general overview of the four stations that the groups will explore to evaluate the hypotheses they generated.

Text Station #1 � Thesis Paper on Berlin Wall with key sections to read marked. Multiple copies available.

SMARTBoard Station � Have fill-in-the-blank activity up on screen for groups to complete. A �Key� with the correct answers will be sitting on the desk next to the SMARTBoard for students to check once they complete it.

Text Station #2 � �Ghosts of Berlin� book with passages of high interest marked with sticky notes.

YouTube Clip � Students listen to first few minutes of Ronald Reagan speech at Berlin Wall. Highlighted transcripts of the speech are also available for students to follow along.

3.) Explain to students they will take notes at each station that either confirm their hypotheses or prove it wrong.

4.) Tell students they will have approximately 5 minutes at each station. The teacher will give them a 1-minute warning when it is time to move to the next station.

5.) Instruct students to look over the generated list of hypotheses during any extra time they have and determine if they are supported or refuted by the new information learned.

6.) After the overview has been given, ask the students to move to their first station and begin exploring the contents.

D. Independent Practice-

1.) Students are to fill out their individual worksheet with research and thoughts gained at each station.

2.)Students should write down things that support a hypotheses and anything that refutes a hypotheses.

3.)They should do this for each hypotheses, discussing with their group members the implications of each new piece of information obtained throughout the process.

E. Accommodations (Differentiated Instruction)-

1.) For children with visual impairments, have large print copies of all text and the transcript for the Reagan speech section.

2.) If a student has difficulty with reading, encourage group to do choral reading rather than silent reading at the text stations.

3.) Any student with an aide or intervention specialist may have that assistant rotate through the stations with him or her.

F. Checking for understanding-

1.) Circulate the room and make sure each group is making progress at their station after each rotation.

2.) Ask questions to make sure they are engaged in the station such as:

What did you learn in this station that helps you with your hypotheses?

Does your group all agree on what you learned in this station?

What do you think it would have been like to be a student your age in East Berlin? West Berlin?

3.) Each station has approximately 5 minutes. Give a 1-minute warning before asking them to rotate. When it is time to rotate, get the attention of the class and give clear direction on where they are to rotate to next.

4.) Once rotated, begin to circulate to make sure the technology stations are functioning properly and then that all groups are engaged.

G. Closure-

1.) As the last station wraps up, ask all of the students to return to their original seats.

2.) Revisit the guiding questions and the student-generated hypotheses on the SMARTBoard page typed earlier.

3.) Use a marker to not hypotheses that were proven true during the stations. If necessary, cross out words or add new words to better clarify hypotheses.

4.) Collaboratively generate a single class hypothesis to explain what was going on in the original video and why the people were cheering.


We will be evaluating the students based primarily on their responses to questions at the end of the lesson. As we rework the hypotheses that the students created during the beginning of the class we will identify and expand upon the hypotheses with the information that the students learned. This type of informal assessment will ease fears of offering suggestions and will have to be carefully monitored by the teacher. The teacher may have to call on some students that do not typically respond in order to ensure that all students learned the material. During the lesson itself, the teacher will be walking around looking at the work the students are doing and pointing out and aiding in instances where the student is slightly off track in their work.

Teacher Reflection

Students were very receptive to the video. Many were in awe of the massive size and the celebration that ensued within the video.