Has phrases as they are used in

Has the country of Cambodia experienced a genocide? This lesson plan examines this controversy with the help of a video lesson. An activity creates the opportunity for deeper analysis.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

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  • define ‘genocide’
  • summarize the political and social upheaval that took place in Cambodia
  • discuss the ramifications of the Cambodian genocide


1 to 2 hours

Curriculum Standards



Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.



Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.

  • CCSS.



Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain.



Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including analyzing how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).


Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.


  • A worksheet created using the quiz from the associated video lesson, one for each student
  • Fact sheets with assorted examples of instances of genocide throughout history with key events and facts clearly listed


  • Begin by writing the term ‘genocide’ on the board for the class.
    • What does this term mean?
    • Who can name some examples of genocide from history?
  • Play the video lesson The Cambodian Genocide: Summary, Facts & Statistics, pausing it at 2:27.
    • What would an ‘agrarian utopia’ be like and why would this idea have been opposed?
    • What factors made conditions in Cambodia ripe for the rise of the Khmer Rouge?
  • Resume the video, pausing at 4:51.
    • Why were educated people deemed less desirable for the Khmer Rouge’s goals?
    • How did the Khmer Rouge’s actions ultimately backfire?
    • Do you think that these events in Cambodia qualify as genocide? Why or why not?
  • Play the remainder of the video lesson for the class now.
    • Is the UN’s definition of genocide adequate?
    • Do you agree with the following statement from the video lesson ‘Despite the fact that the crimes of the Khmer Rouge against the people of Cambodia were despicable, they do not necessarily meet the criteria of genocide’? Why or why not?
  • Review key facts from the video lesson with the class before continuing.
  • Pass out the worksheet and have the students work independently to complete it.
  • When all students have finished the worksheet, allow them to ask questions before reviewing the correct responses with the class.


  • Divide the class into several small groups.
  • Give each group one of the fact sheets on an historical example of genocide.
  • Have the students in each group compare their assigned example of genocide to the events that occurred in Cambodia, responding to the following questions in writing:
    • How are the two instances similar?
    • How are they different?
    • How does each instance fit in with the UN’s definition of genocide?
    • How could each event have been prevented?
    • What can be done in the future to curtail the occurrence of genocide?
  • When each group has responded to the aforementioned questions in writing, have them swap their fact sheets with another group and repeat the analysis as they respond to the questions in writing once more.
  • When the groups have finished the second analysis, have them gather together to compare and discuss their responses.
  • Finally, host an open class discussion where each of the cases are addressed by students.


  • Have students select one instance of genocide to research.
  • Review official global policies on genocide with the class.

Related Lessons

  • The Bosnian Genocide: Summary, Facts & Statistics
  • The Kurdish Genocide in Iraq (Al-Anfal Campaign)

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