Students will identify a life-changing event in their own lives and share the experience with others in written and, possibly, spoken discussions. They will then be introduced to the term, “legacy” and the essential question, “What are the legacies of the Vietnam War?” Once familiarized with the focus of the lesson, students will analyze video testimonies from people involved in the Vietnam War. They will locate key quotes and draw conclusions about the legacies of the war. After a teacher-led discussion about the key quotes and conclusions, the students will compose a 2-4 page essay that addresses a prompt about the legacies of the Vietnam War.
- Students will be able to identify a moment in their life that was life changing and convey the meaning of that experience in written and (optional) spoken form.
- Students will be able to integrate information from a variety of oral histories into a coherent understanding of the legacies of the Vietnam War.
- Students will be able to analyze primary sources (oral histories) to identify specific quotes about the legacies of the Vietnam War.
- Students will be able to compose an argumentative essay that introduces a precise claim and supports that claim with evidence from a variety of sources.
Prep for Teachers
Teachers should prepare the following items:
- One copy of Legacies of Vietnam | Two Column Notes for each student.
- One copy of the Legacies of Vietnam | Writing Packet for each student, and/or one Legacies of Vietnam | Essay Rubric for each student.
- Access to oral histories of Paul Wisovaty, Jerome Weise, Terry Hairrell, Steve Allen, and Richard Hertel on pbslearningmedia.org
Common Core and College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards:
Common Core State Standards:
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.1. Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.1. 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.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.6. Evaluate authors' differing points of view on the same historical event or issue by assessing the authors' claims, reasoning, and evidence.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.9. Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.
College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework Standards:
- D2.His.1.9-12. Evaluate how historical events and developments were shaped by unique circumstances of time and place as well as broader historical contexts.
- D2.Civ.2.9-12. Analyze the role of citizens in the U.S. political system, with attention to various theories of democracy, changes in Americans’ participation over time, and alternative models from other countries, past and present.
Begin by asking students to journal or think-pair-share about an event that has changed their life. It may be helpful for the teacher to model this by retelling a story or describing a moment when his or her’s life was changed by an event.
- Give students time to think and write.
- If using the think-pair-share technique, then give students time to share with a partner.
- Facilitate a teacher-led discussion of events in student’s lives that have changed them.
Transition to the lesson by pointing out that Americans who participated in the Vietnam War always consider it to be a life-changing event. However, the war’s legacy is different for many people.
Introduce the essential question: What are the legacies of the Vietnam War?
- If necessary, write or project the word legacy on the board and define the term for the class before proceeding.
- As students work through the testimonies, they should begin to form an opinion about the essential question.
Give students ample time to work through all of the video testimonies. They will need to identify four of the interview subjects to write about in their worksheet, but they should take the time to listen to all of the testimonies.
Once students have completed the testimonies, bring the class together and have a large-group processing discussion about the essential question.
- It may be helpful to categorize the testimonies by asking students to identify the testimonies that had expressed either positive or negative experiences from being in the war.
- It is essential during this discussion for students to identify quotes from the testimonies. The teacher could consider asking the following questions:
- “What are some of the ways the Vietnam War impacted the people in these videos?” When teacher receives a response, follow up with, “Great - tell me the quote from the interview that supports that point.”
Students should continue to update their notes as this discussion takes place.
Now transition to the final assessment. Students will write an argumentative essay about the following prompt:
- “I thought the Vietnam war was an utter, unmitigated disaster, so it was very hard for me to say anything good about it.” George McGovern. Many historians would agree with Mr. McGovern’s assessment of the Vietnam War. Do you agree with McGovern? Using what you have learned about the war, support, modify or refute this assessment using specific evidence.
This essay could be written in class, in the computer lab, or at home.
Hand out the Legacies of Vietnam | Essay Rubric and go over the key points with the students.
- If the resources are available, the teacher might consider printing a copy of the Legacies of Vietnam | Writing Packet for each student.
Give students ample time to compose their essays. Then grade them using the rubric. Allow an option for revision, if possible.