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        How the War Was Fought: Early War Strategy | Ken Burns & ​Lynn Novick: The Vietnam War

        In this lesson, students will view selected video segments from The Vietnam War and examine communist forces and US military battle tactics during the battle in the la Drang River Valley. Students will then discuss the results of this pivotal battle and the lessons learned by the North Vietnamese and the Americans.

        Lesson Summary

        In this lesson, students will view selected video segments from The Vietnam War and examine communist forces and US military battle tactics during the battle in the la Drang River Valley. Students will then discuss the results of this pivotal battle and the lessons learned by the North Vietnamese and the Americans.

        Learning Objectives

        1. Examine the advantages that US forces and North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces had over each other.
        2. Assess who won the battle of la Drang.
        3. Explore the lessons learned by both sides.
        4. Examine the misunderstandings about the enemy that the Americans discovered after the battle of la Drang.
        5. Determine whether the United States or the North Vietnamese won the battle of la Drang, and make recommendations on the next steps for either side.

        Supplies

        Video Clips

        1. Plei Me and the la Drang Valley
        2. Moore’s Line
        3. An Unwinnable War

        Student Handout

        About The Author

        Greg Timmons has been a social studies teacher for over 30 years. He has written lessons for several PBS productions including The NewsHour, FRONTLINE, Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise and various Ken Burns productions including The War, Prohibition, The Dust Bowl, Baseball, The Tenth Inning, The Central Park Five, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, and Jackie Robinson. He is the winner of the 2007 American Educational Publishers Award. 

        Learning Activities

        1. Distribute copies of the handout to students and review the summarizing points in it. Show the first video segment, “Plei Me and the la Drang Valley,” to the class and ask students to take notes in the handout. Then discuss the questions on the handout for segment 1.
        2. Show the second segment, “Moore’s Line,” to the class and have them take notes. Then discuss the questions on the handout for segment 2.
        3. Show the third segment, “An Unwinnable War,” to the class. Then, organize students back into small groups and discuss the questions on the handout for segment 3.
        4. Have students take into account all they’ve learned about the confrontation in the la Drang Valley; they should then write a summary report on the results. Have them determine whether the victory went to the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong or to the United States, and support their reasoning with information from the video segments. What recommendations would they give either side’s leadership in determining the next steps?

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