Lesson Plan

Conflict! The Eisenhower Years Lesson One

Soldiers boxing at Camp Colt, U.S. Army Tank Training Center, Gettysburg, 1918

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Grade Level:
High School: Ninth Grade through Twelfth Grade
Social Studies
Lesson Duration:
60 Minutes
Common Core Standards:
11-12.SL.1, 11-12.SL.1.a, 11-12.SL.1.b, 11-12.SL.1.c, 11-12.SL.1.d
State Standards:
Pennsylvania State Social Studies Standards 8.3.12: Identify and evaluate the political and cultural contributions of
individuals and groups to United States history from 1890 to Present, including Dwight Eisenhower.
Thinking Skills:
Understanding: Understand the main idea of material heard, viewed, or read. Interpret or summarize the ideas in own words. Applying: Apply an abstract idea in a concrete situation to solve a problem or relate it to a prior experience. Analyzing: Break down a concept or idea into parts and show the relationships among the parts. Evaluating: Make informed judgements about the value of ideas or materials. Use standards and criteria to support opinions and views.


*What does conflict mean for individuals,communities, and nations?
*How can we put into practice one of the methods of conflict resolution - mediation?


As a soldier and as a President, Dwight D. Eisenhower played a seminal role in many of the conflicts of the Twentieth Century. This teaching package introduces students to this great American, but also challenges students to use their study of Eisenhower to explore how conflicts are caused -and how they can be solved.

This teaching package has been designed to appeal to all types of learners-visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. It fosters critical thinking skills as students read, write, analyze and draw conclusions. They also participate actively through role playing. The teaching package includes five lessons.

These lessons offer teachers a way to integrate the study of this American president with the 11th grade American history curriculum and prepares students for an optional visit to the Eisenhower Farm. The lessons are designed to meet education standards of the Pennsylvania State Department of Education.

Former President Jimmy Carter, who has helped resolve many international conflicts, says, “On the most basic level, conflict occurs when interests differ.” This is true for individuals – in families, classrooms, or on the job. It is also true among nations. In this lesson, students learn about conflict. They discuss five basic kinds of conflict. They role play an example of interpersonal conflict, then gain experience – again through role play – in one method of solving conflicts, mediation. 


*Make one copy of the following for each student: A copy of Handout #1, “Mediation", Handout #2 “Acting as a Mediator,” and the assessment "Debrief - Mediation and Conflict Resolution" 

*Optional: An overhead transparency of Handout #2 and an overhead projector


Use as the first resource during the mediation exercise.

Download Handout 1 - Mediation Procedure

Use as more detailed directions during the mediation exercise.

Download Handout 2 - Acting as Mediator

Lesson Hook/Preview

1. What does it mean if two of your good friends are having a conflict? What would you do in that situation?

2. Write the word “conflict” on the board. Ask students to define it. Say to students, “There are many types of conflicts in the world today. Let’s think of all the different types of conflict we can.” List the following types of conflict across the top of the board: 

International Conflict National Conflict Community Conflict Government-Sponsored Conflict Interpersonal Conflict

 Ask students to define each type of conflict. Also ask them to think of specific examples of each type of conflict occurring in the world now. Examples might include: 

International Conflict


National Conflict


Community Conflict


Government-Sponsored Conflict


Interpersonal Conflict


Conflict between nations - wars and terrorism conflict within a  nation - civil war, mass rioting Conflict wtihin a community on a large scale - gang warfare, LA riots State-sponsored forms of violence - Holocaust,  Conflict between two or more peple - mugging, rape, murder, assault


1. Say, “Many of the things that cause conflicts between nations or groups of people also cause conflict between individuals.” The following role play will help students understand some of the causes of conflict: Jason and Antonio used to be close friends. But this year, Antonio is doing well in school, while Jason has seemed to lose interest. While Antonio generally is prepared for class, Jason talks back to teachers and falls behind. Jason also has a new group of friends – a crowd Antonio doesn’t like. Jason says mean things about Antonio behind his back and harasses him in the gym and in the halls. Today, Jason said, “You think you’re smart. Fight me and prove it.” Antonio thinks fighting is wrong, and he also knows that it could get him suspended from school and grounded at home. On the other hand, he worries that if he doesn’t stand up to Jason, he’ll become an easy target. In the hall, Jason and his girlfriend Elena meet Antonio and his girlfriend Sara. Role play their conversation. 

2. Ask four students to volunteer to play the roles of Jason, Antonio, Elena, and Sara. (If any of these names corresponds to the name of a student in your class, choose another name). Make it clear to all students that no actor is playing himself or herself. Say, “They are acting.” 

3. Tell the audience to watch and listen closely. After the role play, they’re going to have to talk about what they saw. Also remind them once again that the students aren’t playing themselves. 

Helping Students Role Play:

  • Make sure the four actors understand the basic story line, what each character wants, and why.
  • Encourage the actors. Be positive. Involve the audience. Have them say, “Action” to begin the scene. Have them clap when the actors are finished.
  • If an actor doesn’t know what to say next, encourage her to ask for suggestions from the audience.
Give the Students These Tips:
  • Speak loudly.
  • Face the class.
  • Don’t turn your back.
  • Try not to move in a way that will make other actors turn their backs.
  • Listen to each other. Don’t talk if someone else is.
  • Speak slowly.
  • Think of what someone you know might do or say. Make it realistic.

4. Have students act out the argument among the four teens. Afterwards, ask these questions:

  • Conflicts have both immediate causes and root causes (things that have occurred in the past). What is the immediate cause of Jason and Antonio’s conflict from Jason’s point of view?What are some of the root causes?
  • What is the immediate cause of the conflict from Antonio’s point of view? What are some of the root causes?

5. Conflicts can be resolved in many ways. One way to resolve conflicts peacefully is through mediation. A student mediator gets the people who are in conflict to talk about the problem and see if they can come up with a solution. Ask for a volunteer to be the mediator.

6. Pass out Handout #1 "Mediation". (You may also wish to make an overhead of this handout.) Lead a discussion with students to make sure they understand each of the steps involved in mediation.

Talking points for the teacher are listed below:

  • Step 1 Set the Ground Rules - The mediator explains that each person will have a chance to talk and tell their side of the story.
  • Step 2 Define the Problem - Ask each person to tell what happened. Then the mediator should restate and summarize the story. Finally, the mediator should ask, “How did that make you feel?” and restate what the person says.
  • Step 3 Find Solutions - The mediator should identify the issues to be solved. Then the mediator may ask each person, “Can you think of any solution to this problem?” Or, the mediator can ask both parties to brainstorm for 2 minutes. Remind students that when they are brainstorming, they should throw out any idea that occurs to them. Say, “Brainstorming is not the time when we criticize other people’s ideas – we’re trying to come up with as many answers as possible. Later, we’ll do some evaluating.” Once the list is developed, the mediator asks, “Which of these solutions could you agree with?”
  • Step 4 Final Agreement - The mediator restates the final solution. Tell students this solution should be a 4WH solution: it should say Who, What, When, Where and How. The mediator should ask each person what he or she can do to keep the problem from happening again. Then the mediator should congratulate both sides on reaching a solution.

7. Now have the students and the mediator role play a mediation to this conflict. Give the students Handout #2: Acting as a Mediator. Discuss the steps that mediators should follow when trying to find a resolution to a conflict.

8. Say, “Finding an agreement to conflict is not easy. Many of the same things that cause conflict between people also cause conflict between nations. Next lesson, we are going to read a selection by former President Jimmy Carter about the history of war. Then we are going to discuss his analysis of the causes of war. You will see many similarities between the causes of conflict that we have just identified and the causes of conflict that former President Carter identifies in this essay. To get ready for next class, let's think about how mediation can be used in different types of conflict". 

9. Hand out assessment materials. 


Conflicta serious disagreement or argument, typically a protracted one.

Mediationintervention in a conflict in order to resolve it; arbitration.

Government-Sponsored - Action encouraged by the government and often backed with government money or support 

Interpersonal - Relating to relationships or communication between people.

Assessment Materials

Debrief - Mediation and Conflict Resolution

Ask students to go back to their brainstormed list from the beginning of class and apply what they've learned about mediation to different types of conflict.

Debrief - Mediation and Conflict Resolution

Download Assessment

Supports for Struggling Learners

*Two rounds of mediation - one with excelling learners who can set the example and the second with all learners participating who have now observed once. 

*Highlighted copies of mediation directions

*Images or newspaper articles to prompt examples of conflict during the hook or preview 

Enrichment Activities

*Choose one of the examples of conflict that we brainstormed at the beginning of class. Adapt the mediation procedure and steps to address the challenges of that specific conflict. How should the wording or steps be changed? 

Additional Resources

Eisenhower National Historic Site: https://www.nps.gov/eise/index.htm

Related Lessons or Education Materials

Check out the other lessons:

Lesson 2: Causes of International Conflict

Lesson 3: Eisenhower and his Times

Lesson 4: Conflicts Eisenhower Faced

Lesson 5: How Would Eisenhower Have Handled It?

Site Visit: A Visit by World Leader

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Last updated: July 24, 2015