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The Vietnam War

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The Vietnam War. If you had to choose the 3 most powerful lessons that you teach regarding The Vietnam War….. What would they be?. Bringing Voices of “The Wall” to life. “Things They Carried” - Tim O’Brien “Letters from Vietnam” - HBO Special Vietnam War Memorial Research Workshop.

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the vietnam war
The Vietnam War
  • If you had to choose the 3 most powerful lessons that you teach regarding The Vietnam War…..
  • What would they be?
bringing voices of the wall to life
Bringing Voices of “The Wall” to life
  • “Things They Carried” - Tim O’Brien
  • “Letters from Vietnam” - HBO Special
  • Vietnam War Memorial Research Workshop
letters from vietnam
“Letters from Vietnam”

“The Wall was designed to pull you in and never let you go…”

tasks for letters from vietnam
Tasks for “Letters from Vietnam”

After watching film with guided study sheet:

  • Respond to one letter
  • Illustrate your thoughts
  • When visiting “The Wall” place letter next to the soldiers name
  • Create a wall in your own classroom
vietnam memorial culminating research workshop
Vietnam Memorial Culminating Research Workshop
  • Take students on line through a virtual tour
  • Some suggested sites:
    • wallpics/gallery.htm

For lesson plan ideas on “The Things They Carried,” check out:

the things they carried reading assignments
“The Things They Carried”Reading Assignments
  • 1. Have students read and compare “The Things They Carried” with other American war-related literature, including:
    • Ernest Hemmingway’s “Soldier’s Home”
    • Yusef Komunyakaa’s “To Du Street” and “Facing It”
    • Randall Jarrell’s “Death of the Ball Turret Gunner”
    • Robert Bly’s “Counting Small-Boned Bodies”
    • Michael Herr’s “Dispatches”
    • Walt Whitman’s “Specimen Days”
    • Anthony Swofford’s “Jarhead”
the things they carried reading assignments1
“The Things They Carried”Reading Assignments
  • Have students read and compare “The Things They Carried” with news accounts of soldiers in Iraq.
  • Have students read “The Things They Carried” with examples from the anthology “Both Sides Now,” which includes poetry written about the Vietnam War by Americans and Vietnamese.  
the things they carried group assignments
“The Things They Carried”Group Assignments
  • Have students makes lists and groupings of the “things” the soldiers “carried” in the story.  Have them discuss and analyze the categories of things the soldiers carried.
  • Have students identify the “things” they carry with them in a variety of settings: school, work, family gatherings, relationships.  Ask them to discuss the role memory plays in their lives and how it affects their encounters with new people and new situations.
  • Have students discuss what they know about the Vietnam War and how that knowledge influences their understanding of the story.  Encourage students who feel comfortable sharing personal experiences in the Vietnam War (or any war) or relationships to people who served.
the things they carried research assignments
“The Things They Carried”Research Assignments
  • Have students research other American writers who have written about war, especially writers who experienced war themselves like Ernest Hemmingway and Walt Whitman.
  • Many writers who examine war, including O’Brien, focus on the psychological aspects of warfare.  How does “The Things They Carried” examine the psychology of war?  Research mental conditions including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to learn how war affects men.
  • How do men and women experience war differently? Based on your reading of war literature by men and women, research how war affects them differently.
the things they carried film assignments
“The Things They Carried”Film Assignments
  • Pair readings of this story with any number of films about the Vietnam War.  I have found Oliver Stone’s Platoon and Stanley Kubrik’s Full Metal Jacket to be the most useful because they follow individual soldiers and how they react to the war environment and other soldiers.  You might show Platoon in class or combine one or more film clips with class discussions about the story.
  • Pair readings of this story with clips from Ken Burns’ Vietnam, particularly those parts of the documentary that involve the reading of soldiers’ letters home, which have the same casual feel of much of the writing in “The Things They Carried.”