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Was the Use of the Atomic Bomb Justified? DBQ

65 min
  • Students will examine the arguments for and against the use of the atomic bomb on Japan in August of 1945.
  • Students will systematically analyze primary sources by annotating each document.
  • Students will write a DBQ essay that responds to a document-based question prompt.

This lesson has students practice the skills needed to write a timed DBQ essay; therefore, comprehension questions are not included for the documents as they have been for previous DBQs in this resource.

Ask students to consider the costs of war throughout U.S. history (e.g., American Revolution, War of 1812, Mexican-American War, Civil War). In what ways would the cost of ending World War II be different? Why? Lead a brief class discussion on student opinions, or have students discuss with a partner to set the scene for the DBQ prompt they will consider in this activity: Evaluate the use of the atomic bomb on Japan during World War II.

Distribute Handout A: Student Document Packet. Have students work individually to read and annotate each document in the context of the prompt.

After the 15-minute reading period, inform students they may begin writing their responses. Remind students to carefully consider the instructions for their response included on the last page of their document.

Collect student responses at the end of the 45-minute writing period. Assess student writing using the AP LEQ Rubric or with an individual class rubric.

Students may also self-grade or peer grade, as best fits your classroom.