Lesson Plan: ¿Bienvenidos a Cuba?

Written By: Elizabeth Berreth
Grade Level: 9-12

Time Allotment

1 50 minute class period plus outside class time to complete culminating activity


Students will interact with Pear Deck and PBS Learning Media to learn about the lifting of the U.S. embargo on Cuba and how it will affect Cubans and Americans. Students will demonstrate their understanding of the variety of perspectives involved via creation of a speaking avatar.


Subject Matter


Learning Objectives

  1. Students will experience Cuba through video.
  2. Students will be able to discuss the evolving relationship between the U.S. and Cuba.
  3. Students will identify positive and negative aspects of American tourism in Cuba.
    1. Media Components - Video/Web

      PBS News Hour, June 15, 2015: “Shift In U.S. Policy Opens Cuba To American Tourists”

      Web sites/multimedia tools:
      • Pear DeckPear Deck is a web-based interactive presentation tool that allows teachers to present material and students to view the presentation and provide responses using their own devices.
      • PBS Learning MediaPBS Learning Media is a free online service that houses videos, images, documents, audio files, lesson plans and more for educators. It also allows educators to create and store multi-media, interactive lessons for students.


      The teacher will need a device (laptop, iPad, etc.), projector and aux cord for sound. Students will need individual devices and internet access. If students will be watching the video on their own devices, they should also have headphones.

      Teacher Preparation

      1. Create your introduction to the lesson using a slideshow in Pear Deck
      2. Create a PBS Learning Media account and search for the video by PBS News Hour, from June 15, 2015: “Shift In U.S. Policy Opens Cuba To American Tourists”. Click on the heart icon to add this video to your collection of favorites on the PBS Learning Media site.
      3. If you wish to create an interactive lesson for students, locate the “Dashboard” on PBS Learning Media and select “Tools”, then “Lesson Builder”. View the tutorial to help you create your lesson. Here is the student view of the lesson that I created: PBS Learning Media Lesson Builder
      4. Create a speaking avatar at Voki to introduce the culminating activity.
      5. Bookmark peardeck.com and pbslearning.org
      6. Make sure that all students have a device that is connected to the internet.

      Introductory Activities

      In my Pear Deck slideshow, I show students a picture of modern-day Cuba with vintage cars and run-down colonial buildings. Students will be logged into the Pear Deck session on their devices and will be prompted to guess what year it is in the picture and where the picture was taken. Then, they will see a map of the Caribbean, including Florida, Mexico and other Caribbean islands. Students will be asked to guess how many miles Cuba is from the United States. On the next slide, students will see the same map and will be asked to tell which countries on the map they themselves or people they know have visited. Students will then theorize why Cuba is so near to the United States yet so very few people they know have traveled there. They will then be sent directly to PBS Learning Media via their Pear Deck session.

      Learning Activities

      1. Log into Pear Deck, PBS Learning Media and voki.com
      2. Begin presenting the Pear Deck session and ask students to follow the instructions on the screen to log in.
      3. Lead students through the introductory activity and facilitate any discussion that emerges.
      4. Assist students with technological difficulties and answer questions while wandering the room, monitoring student progress.
      5. Allow students to continue on to PBS Learning as prompted by the Pear Deck slide show but make it clear that they should stop and wait for the class after completing the pre-viewing questions. The previewing questions ask students to define terms that will be used in the video: socialism, embargo and infrastructure.
      6. Discuss the pre-viewing questions to be sure that students have a clear understanding of the terminology.
      7. Have students preview the questions that they will be answering after the video. The questions include:
        1. Why have Americans been unable to visit Cuba?
        1. How was the Cuban economy affected by the fall of the Soviet Union?
        1. How would you describe attitudes toward Americans in Cuba?
        1. How will an increase in American tourism affect Cuba?
        1. Why might Cuba be cautious about more American tourism?
      8. Keep the lights on and project the video for the entire class rather than having students watch on their individual devices to avoid the distraction of sound coming from multiple devices. Ask students to progress through the lesson, answering the questions as they go.
      9. Allow students to review the video on their own devices as needed to answer the questions. Headphones are very helpful for this step.
      10. Introduce the culminating activity with your own voki avatar. Assist students as they create their vokis.

      Culminating Activity

      Students will create a speaking avatar using Voki .They will be randomly assigned a role from some of these possible options.
      1. A Cuban teenager
      2. A 40 year old Cuban bed and breakfast owner
      3. An American teenager
      4. An 80 year old American
      5. An 80 year old Cuban
      Students’ task will be to explain, from the perspective of the role they have been assigned, how they feel about the opening of Cuba for American tourists. They should explain their position and support it with reasons. 6. A 35 year old Cuban-American Students’ task will be to explain, from the perspective of the role they have been assigned, how they feel about the opening of Cuba for American tourists. They should explain their position and support it with reasons.

      Cross-Curricular Activity

      Social Studies – Geography, History: The Cold War, Bay of Pigs, Soviet Missile Crisis, Imperialism

      Community Connections

      Students can plan a trip to Cuba either with family or an organization. They can interview Cuban-Americans to learn about their perspectives of the Cuban-American conflict and its impending resolution. Students could keep up to date on current events about Cuba and changes in the U.S. laws.