Cuba: The Bay of Pigs - April 17, 1961

Teacher Name: Darryl Carr Grade Level(s): 9-12 Course: Social Studies

Anticipatory Lesson:


Type of classroom activity to be performed:
This lesson will be a cooperative learning activity using primary sources, principles and processes of governance systems in relation to change in structural organizations. It will explore the leadership roles of the executive office and decision-making.

This lesson will allow students to reconstruct the literal meaning of a historical passage. Identify the central question(s) the historical narrative addresses Identify issues and problems in the past. Marshal evidence of antecedent circumstances and contemporary factors contributing to problems and alternative courses of action. Evaluate alternative courses of action and formulate a position or course of action on an issue. The students will learn about Operation Pluto and take ownership of the mission, including its failure. Students should have background knowledge of the United States stance on the Cold War from pervious instruction this lesson should serve as an introduction to the Bay of Pigs Invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Required time frame: 3-4 regular class periods.

Lesson Objectives—the student will be able to demonstrate knowledge in reference:

• Identify the origins of the Bay of Pigs Invasion
• Students will evaluate the impact of the decision to invade Cuba on U.S.-Cuban
• relations, Presidential support and the presidential decision-making process
• Discuss what influenced President Kennedy’s decision to invade Cuba
• Analyze what actions were taken in the actual Bay of Pigs Invasion

Primary Materials:
history of Cuba
• Memo written by the CIA dated January 19, 1961, it outlines several reasons for the covert operation such as the fear that Castro will export communism to other Latin
American nations and that support for Castro within Cuban continue to strengthen.
This source can be retrieved at Its original holding location is U.S. Department of State, FOREIGN RELATIONS OF THE
UNITED STATES, 1961-1963, Volume X, Cuba, 1961-1962sidential support and the presidential decision- making process

• Students will receive an index card with either “CIA”, “President of the United States”, or “Presidential Advisor” on it. This will determine what group they are in.
• The CIA group will receive a “Top Secret” file folder with information about the plan to invade Kukamunga
• Students will need a writing utensil and paper for the activity and for taking notes from the lecture.
• Students will also receive Handout #1.
• We will also watch a clip from United Streaming which is incorporated in the PowerPoint presentation.

Secondary Sources:

Bay of Pigs Declassified: The Secret CIA Report on the Invasion of Cuba (National Security Archive Documents)

Technology Required:

  • Computer to assess assigned web links

Fully describe the activity or assignment in detail. What will both you and the students do?

Group Activity: 20-25 minutes – The teacher will pass out index cards to the class. Four cards say “CIA” and one card will say “CIA Director/Spokesperson Once all of the cards are passed out, the teacher will instruct the students with “CIA” on their index card, to go and wait in the hall way. Instruct them to read over the Top Secret File. They are to wait in the hallway for 5 minutes and discuss what they will tell the President about the Top Secret File. The rest of the class will discuss their roles that are on their index cards: Presidential Advisors. The new United States President will sit at the front of the room (Maybe the Teacher’s Desk). Teacher will ask the rest of the class questions while the “CIA” group is in the hallway:
You are Presidential Advisors. Your job is to advise the President on issues she/he is faced with on a daily basis. Remember you should keep in mind the decisions the President make should be for the good of the entire country.
1. Who gets the praise or blame when the U.S. government makes a good decision? A poor decision?

2. With what types of issues would Presidential Advisors assist the President?

After the CIA group has had their time to go over their presentation, they should return to the room and present to the President and the Presidential Advisors the contents in the “Top Secret” File. After the CIA group’s presentation, the Presidential Advisors should meet together and discuss the situation at hand. After 10 minutes of discussion, each Advisor should give the President their opinion of what they think would be the best option to take in this situation.

After each Advisor state their opinion, the class should go on as a regular class and give the President time to make a decision. Next, the President will come to the front of the room and announce their decision. The President should also state why and how they came up with that decision. Lastly, Poll the class. Do they agree or disagree with President? Why or why not?
What arguments received the greatest emphasis/weight in the decision-making process?


After the lesson, the student will turn a completed Venn diagram showing hypothetical and logical reasoning of their decision. Additionally, each student will provide short answer (3-5) paragraphs on one the following questions: Why did Cuba and the rise of Castro become a focus of U.S. foreign policy? Or, How does the Cuban situation fit into the context of Cold War foreign policy?

The class completion of the Venn diagram can measure the student’s level of understanding. The following rubric will be used to evaluate the short answer essay