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Public Opinion Word Cloud
Objective: By viewing the re-mastered video presentation of President Roosevelt’s December 8, 1941 address to the Joint Session of Congress students will discover what happened at Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7, 1941 and will begin to empathize with people who lived through the shock of the attack.
Grade Level: 6-12
- How did the “Day of Infamy” change US and World History?
- What impact do dramatic historic events have on us emotionally?
Historic Significance: Prior to the Japanese attack on December 7, 1941 there was a great deal of public debate about what to do regarding the growing tensions and acts of aggression in Europe and the Pacific. After the attack America’s shock quickly galvanized into support of the President’s call to war.
Materials: Re-mastered video presentation of President Roosevelt’s December 8, 1941 address to the Joint Session of Congress and documentary sources drawn from the Roosevelt Library and Museum’s website, the Library’s archives, and other internet websites, books and magazines. For a copy of the film, please send your mailing address to Jeffrey.Urbin@nara.gov.
- Share with your students the re-mastered video presentation of President Roosevelt’s December 8, 1941 address to the Joint Session of Congress.
- You may choose to allow them to research, gather, and analyze information about public opinion and American attitudes prior to the attack at Pearl Harbor.
- Ask students to create a “word cloud” of no less than 10 words that expresses how they think people in the United States might have felt after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
- As a class compare the clouds and determine the extent of duplication and overlap. What words seem to be consistent across the clouds? Have the students work in groups of 4-5 to track the frequency of the words in their various clouds.
- Why is it important for the president to have the public’s support in the face of national emergencies?
- What were American attitudes towards the rising tensions in Europe and the Pacific prior to the Japanese attack?
- What were American attitudes towards the rising tensions in Europe and the Pacific after the Japanese attack?
Concluding Activity: Have the students turn their word clouds into colorful posters then scan or photograph them and create a slide show to be played in class or in the school library.
One Step beyond: Ask your students to conduct interviews with several people who lived through the surprise attack on the United States on September 11th, 2001 and then produce a word cloud that expresses the emotions that came through in the interviews. How do the word clouds surrounding the events on December 7, 1941 compare to the word clouds surrounding the events on September 11, 2001?