Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Another great resource for teachers. . . and more on Vietnam

(To go straight to the Vietnam resources, scroll down to the images.)

My first guest post for the "Future of History" blog was posted yesterday on MiddleWeb.com! You can read it here. I will be writing more for them in the future, so check it out. And lest you think it is only useful for middle school teachers, think again. In fact, the whole point of my post is that we need more dialogue between middle school and high school teachers, not to mention our colleagues in K-5.

But you should also check out the other resources and links on MiddleWeb.

Here are a few recent posts I have really liked:
I also promised in my last post on Vietnam that I would offer some additional resources for teachers. Rather than do a separate post on this, I will just link to them below.

A few of my resources:

  • Timeline activity - I created this last year for 8th graders, but this would work well in high school, too. Titled, "Solve the Mystery," it is designed to provide background information on how the U.S. got involved in Vietnam in an interactive, student-centered way that also teaches cause and effect. It works best if students have computers, but it can easily be used the old-fashioned way, too. It also works best if students are told which event comes first and last, but high schoolers can probably make do with a hint that the first event dates back to World War I. This lesson is also designed to help students put Vietnam in a broader context and understand it as a conflict with old roots. You could go back even further than World War I, but that gets more complicated than I thought was necessary. 
  • Philosophical discussion questions - I originally used these as part of an online discussion. If you use them that way, you may want to make the questions much briefer, so you allow your students more opportunity to come up with the "big ideas" implicit in these questions. But I am including the "full" question so you can adjust as you like. They would also make great in-class discussions. Also, check out the essential questions I mentioned towards the end of my last post.
  • Vietnam DBQ with a twist - this is designed for high school students. The "twist" is that students have to come up with their own question. If you teach middle school, you would want to adapt the sources and adjust the coming-up-with-your-own question part. I think middle school students can absolutely do that, but not unless you've done it before as a class. (A big shout-out to my former colleagues for this one, as it was a group effort.
Other resources:
  • thevietnamwar.info - this is one incredible website on many aspects of the Vietnam War. It appears to be put together by amateur historians. It's not easy to find out who is behind it. But it also appears to be a highly credible source, with lots of links to additional resources.
  • this youtube video Chu Chi tunnels (1:30) is a great way to show students what the tunnels that the VietCong used were like.
  • Digital History - for background info, articles for students, and a handy list of films about the war along with film clips.
  • Asian-Nation.org - this website is by a sociologist, who happens to be Vietnamese. The whole website is full of useful information about Asian Americans. The link I have given is to the section on the Vietnam War, but look at the other tabs under "Viet Nam" because he also has information about the country, earlier history and current issues. For example you can look here for info about Vietnamese Americans or here to learn more about Tet, the Vietnamese New Year, so your students don't only associate it with the Tet Offensive.
  • Check out the websites of the presidential libraries of EisenhowerKennedy, Johnson and Nixon. All four have tabs just for teachers/education. Additionally, the Miller Center offers a rich collection of resources about presidents and Vietnam (useful for topics other than Vietnam, too, fyi.) Last year, I did step 2 and 3 from this lesson off the JFK library website. If you scroll to the end of that document, you will find two really great letters to use with students. One is from a woman who lost her brother in Vietnam, writing to Kennedy. The second is Kennedy's reply. See JuniorHistorian's edit of LBJ's "Peace without Conquest" speech of April 1965 (50 years ago last month!) along with some good questions for students.
  • I have used excerpts from the PBS series, Vietnam: A Television History. In particular, I like the episode, "America Takes Charge, 1965-1967" which discusses escalation and "Homefront USA" that discusses the antiwar movement in response to increasing casualties in Vietnam.
  • JuniorHistorian.com has a cool lesson on the election of 1968, the contentious election that occurred at the height of the anti-war movement.
  • recent article from former talk show host Dick Cavett, looking back at the Vietnam War. This is for teachers because it's too long and includes too many references students won't understand. He wrote it regarding his recently aired program on Vietnam, which I unfortunately missed.
  • And last but least, no unit on the Vietnam War is complete without reference to some of the music that, in a way, became a "soundtrack" of the period. Students are often familiar with some of these songs but often have no clue as to their historic significance. This essay from the Gilder Lehrman Institute provides useful background for the teacher. A quick search on youtube and Google produced a gazillion lists of Vietnam War era music, playlists, etc. I leave it to you to decide which ones to use, as if I start going on all these links I will never finish this post. There are so many that is hard for me to choose. I like to use "Fortunate Son," "War," "Eve of Destruction," and Jimi Hendrix's rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Woodstock. But I could go on and on...

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