Do you know when Veteran's Day Is? What can you tell me about it? True the troops are out protecting us. But what does that really have to do with your life? Many students roll their eyes when they are asked about World War II. To many it is about as contemporary as dinosaurs. So how can we make it meaningful?
First , it is about seeing Veteran's as real people who have stories to tell. Humans are hard wired to think in a narrative format. Many students today know someone in the service. So how can we make the transition of what they know to what we want them to learn? What does "Native Words, Native Warriors" have to do with history? Why should teachers include studying about veterans if they aren't teaching "History"?
Studying about individuals and the complexity of culture hooks many students. Instead of just reading a biography, work with oral histories, work with primary sources. Hear the stories of real people who experienced what is now history. Using an inquiry approach develops higher level thinking and learning.
Native Words Native Warriors is an online program from the National Museum of American Indians . It was
designed to enhance the Smithsonian's traveling exhibit by the same name. The online version is geared for grades 6-12. Complete with lesson plans, resources, links. The focus is on how tribal veterans used their language as a weapon in World War I and World War II.
The lessons touch on the complexity of culture and provides background information for seeing Native tribes as unique and living cultures. I believe it helps people see beyond the surface when they can gain understanding about other cultures and the difficulties they have overcome. It helps build empathy and community.
The Veteran's History Project is a project of the American Folklife Center of the library of. Congress. This link has lesson plans for K-12. One of the interesting piece is the idea to "Take a Veteran to School". Teaching students how to ask questions how to make a video or documentary all involves higher level thinking besides the content information. It also makes connections between generations that is a valuable part of every community. These projects need to start well in advance of Veteran's Day to reap the most rewards.
This site also has podcasts, primary sources, background information. There are also forms and kits available, most free of charge. They have also included a website and information about the featured book Forever a Soldier. Forever a Soldier is the second book in the Veteran's History Project. The book is a collection of 37 stories from service men and women. The stories are from veteran's from World War I to Iraq.
Go for Broke National Education Center is an organization that tells the stories of Japanese American Veteran's during World War II. This site houses an oral history archive, lesson plans. It also contains historical information and research materials. The site encourages teachers to include the American story about the segregated Japanese American military units of World War II. They also encourage teachers to incorporated information about the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II and the civil liberty issues and injustices of that time.
"With the State of California’s adoption in 1998 of the History/Social Science Content Standard that requires students to learn about the “roles and sacrifices of individual American soldiers, as well as the unique contribution of the special fighting forces (e.g. the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the Tuskegee Airmen and the Navajo Code Talkers),” it is imperative that teachers be provided with the tools to incorporate this important aspect of history into curriculum.
By providing teachers with accessible curriculum resources to teach this American story, the Learning Center supports the promotion of ethnic tolerance, increases respect and support for the civil rights of all people, and demonstrates how prejudice and racial discrimination can undermine the foundations upon which this country was built. " Go for Broke website.
The Tuskagee Airman were also important veterans, their story also needs to be told to our students. These airman served with honor and bravery. Today the Tuskagee Airman organization have a youth program to encourage young people to develop through aviation.
The Tuskagee Airman National Historic Site is another resource for individuals. The Tuskagee Airman Project is a resource from Reach and Teach. The Black History Web also has some great resources. One resource that I find interesting is the Teach With Movies site (subscription).
These resources are just teasers. With some more searching you will uncover a treasure trove of other sources. I think these are great places to start. I would enjoy hearing how you use these ideas in your class. If you drop me a line I will link your project for other teachers.
Oh yeah November 11th is Veteran's Day.