Subject: History, Social Studies

Lesson Length: 45 - 60 mins

Topic: Panama Canal Debate

Grade Level: 8

Standards / Framework:

Brief Description: Students will practice their research and debate skills by creating a comic which explains their perspective on a historic event.

Know Before You Start: Students should be familiar with the issues related to the U.S. taking ownership of the Panama Canal.


  • Read and discuss the sample comic.

    • What were the benefits of building the Panama Canal?

    • What were the costs? 

    • Why would building a canal be difficult?

    • Why did Panama oppose the building of the canal? 

  • As students answer, list arguments for and against on the board.


  • After reading, discussing and critically thinking about this issue, students will create a six-panel comic presenting the issue of whether the United States should have taken over the Panama Canal zone and built the Panama Canal. 
    • The comic should reflect the student’s opinion as to whether or not the building of the canal was a good idea.
    • Students should include specific details supporting their opinion.


  • Have students present their comics to the class and display them on a bulletin board or online.


  • Allow students to use the speech-to-text feature.

  • Allow students to use the voiceover feature to read their comics aloud.
  • Allow students to work in pairs or groups as needed.
  • Provide a printout of the sample comic for student reference.

  • Explore more recent debates regarding the Panama Canal.


  • Comic to print or display: Comic.

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