Sample Teaching Plans: Context of the Long Sixties and US History

American History Unit [2]
Multiple perspectives on the causes and consequences of May 4, so as to truly make each student able to connect events of the past to their lives today. Considerations include: invisibility of minorities, inflammatory rhetoric, media responsibilities, humanizing victims, power of youth movements. Interactions promoting historical thinking include the Stanford Lunchroom Fight simulation and students sharing exhibits created in the spirit of one of the 3 themes of the May 4 Visitors Center: Social Justice, Generation Gap, Vietnam War.

American Literature - American Government Unit Plan [4]
Students begin with Vietnam War context, incl. the draft and hawks vs. doves, then experience the human side of history through The Things They Carried and the lives of Allison, Bill, Sandy, and Jeff and May 4. Students study context of the Civil Rights & Black Student Movements; compare Orangeburg & Kent and Jackson State; and view today through lasting results of Black United Students’ activism and new poetry reflecting African American experience.

And the Children will Lead Them - Youth Activism [5]
Students begin by considering Can young people change society? through examining youth activism in the Civil Rights Movement. Protests at Orangeburg, Kent State, and Jackson State prompt the question Is nonviolent protest an effective method for change? Discussion carries over to today’s movements. Writing assignments incl. letters to the editor, analysis of Tinker v. Des Moines, and creative work or Ted Talk/other presentation.

Creating Student Organizations [7]
Coursework preceding study of May 4 includes study of prominent civil rights figures, student organizations, and Orangeburg/Kent State/Jackson State. Students understand May 4 through small group creation of an advocacy organization with website relating mission statement; logo; poster; song (using current one with their issue); testimonial on an org event. Students also create speech as if one were addressing crowd at the Victory Bell during May 4 and consider dynamic between law enforcement and dissenters then & now.

Dissent, the First Amendment, and Social Change [8]
Plan for a collaborative semester-long course featuring a mock trial, readers theater, speakers, and choice of protest movement to research. Students share that work in a community storywalk, along with a documentary on their final community action project.

Do Something: Fanning the Flames of Teen Activism [9]
“If you think you’re too little to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito!” This African proverb inspires students to overcome their uncertainty about how to make change through learning what activism is; motivating examples; and developing an action plan for social change.

Engagement Model Lesson Plan Template [11]
What makes citizen protest good or successful? To answer, students pursue understanding of the protests at Kent State from multiple perspectives—including the oral history of a particular person—and in local, state, and national contexts. Context videos incl. Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia and material from Making Sense of the Sixties.

Finding Your Voice: Inquire, Learn, Reflect [13]
Part 1 of this collaborative unit plan takes place over 5 days and is designed for all tenth-grade students to take in their ELA class. In Part 2, students working with an intervention specialist continue during 5 additional days to build upon what they learned in Part 1, while the remaining ELA students continue independent research.
All students employ what they learn to respond to one of three essential questions centered around how: one choice or experience can change one’s life; facts or truths may differ based on perspectives; young people can make a difference. Sources studied come in many forms. Activities include analysis, creative work, evidence-based essays, and display of students’ work in the school’s Spring art show.

Kent State Five Day Lesson Activity [18]
How are controversial historical events covered by textbooks and/or the media? Students gain knowledge through examining aspects of the Vietnam era: Why Vietnam?; the counterculture; “Ohio” and Laugh-In; and protests at Kent State, May 1–4, 1970. May 4 reveals a lack of communication, the substantial distance of students from those who shot them, and how media is used to sway opinion—as in portrayals within mainstream US textbook treatments of May 4 history.

Kent State May 4 Unit [21]
As part of a human rights unit, students consider parallels between My Lai and May 4 (and possibly hear of the connection to later genocide in Cambodia). Unit concepts incl. choices have consequences. Students ease into study through costumed role playing and protest songs. Unit includes the pivotal Kent State Black student walkout November 1968.

Kent State Shooting Unit: May 4th 1970 [22]
Origins of the student protest movement, the draft, 1968, and Cambodia bring students to May 4. In evidence-based argumentative essays, students address whether the Ohio National Guard should have been on the Kent State campus. Responses tallied and discussed afterward, at which time students make connections to protests today.

Kent State Tragedy Time Capsule [23]
Students collaborate on a time capsule recounting the May 4 story. Highly visual, interactive contents include their original poem, art, interpretations, along with political speeches, audio, and realia such as clothing, protest signs, news articles.

Making Meaning NEH May 4 [30]
Inquiry questions incl.: Why do historians and people tell different stories about the same event? Which accounts of the past get the most attention? How are facts different than opinions? To reach understanding, students look at detailed evidence for both Kent the City and Kent the University to argue which sources were most credible; who was most responsible for the shootings; and why people describe the same events differently.

Making Meaning of May 4: Cause and Effect [31]
Context for this plan comes through study of earlier protests in US history, incl. those that became confrontational during the Civil Rights Movement. Key considerations for students are: issues leading to Kent State shootings; leadership decisions; were KSU antiwar protests justified? successful?; key truths; impact then and now. Sources incl. evidence of place; Ohio National Guard interviews; protest music.

May 4 1970 Kent State University [34]
Fire in the Heartland and other May 4 sources provide context of state politics, the Black Student Movement and Student Antiwar Movement. Students complete photo analysis and share their inquiry process and poems/chants they’ve created with the community, family, friends, and other students.

May 4 1970 Unit Outline: Lesson Plans [35]
Documentary background and close reading of a May 4 photo initiate students’ May 4 study, followed by creation of a multitiered timeline. Frames include the First Amendment & decision makers/decisions made. Meaning is made of a May 4 photo compared to a Jan. 6, 2021, photo. Synthesizing follows.

May 4, 1970 Unit Plan [36]
A focus on the student protest movement and counterculture of the long sixties has students looking at: protest songs for Americans’ response to the war; reflections of the counterculture in May 4; an Upstander from these movements who made social change; similarities between Boomers and Gen Z; and the importance of the First Amendment to protest then and now.

May 4th 1970 Unit Plan [37]
Builds upon preceding coverage of the Vietnam War and continues the theme expressed in the 1619 Project that “Black folks and African Americans have played a central role in making the US realize or attempt to realize its highest ideals: freedom, equality, democracy, equity.”

NEH Kent State Lesson Plan [41]
Students gain understanding of May 4 based on multiple sources and perspectives incl. Vietnam War era music; primary sources; and a guard officer’s oral history. Learning deepens through creating: lyrics on an issue in their world; a poetry slam with their own 2-voice poems; and a digital museum.

NEH Making Meaning of May 4 1970: Pedagogy Project [42]
Students see the lasting positive change resulting from student protest movements—with a few examples being the Voting Rights and Fair Housing Acts and diverse faculty across the country—while understanding that significant obstacles remain today to civil rights and many forms of equality. Sources incl.: The War at Home; The Fog of War; To Kill a Mockingbird. Topics incl.: draft—lottery/end; Dow Chemical protests; successes and failures; arrogance of power

NEH Workshop Lesson Plan [43]
Created for a school of the arts history class, and contextualizing May 4 within the Cold War and Vietnam War, this plan encourages students to explore subjects tied to their interest, such as poetry of Yusef Komunyakaa;
protest songs/album covers, posters, photographs, music. Study concludes with May 4 as a First Amendment story.

Nothing But Our Voices: Speaking Out Through Song [44]
Students understand social change and May 4 through study and their own creation of protest songs. Students react to/analyze music of Civil Rights, Black Student, and Antiwar Movements, including “Ohio,” written in response to May 4.

Project: Unit Plan [45]
Students learn the history of May 4 from multiple sources: photos, film documentary, and popular music. They synthesize by creating a May 4 picture book depicting student protest context, the shootings and aftermath, comparison to today, and afterword of inspiring lyrics.

Remember May 4 Lesson Inspirations [47]
Select 1 lesson or all 5, each meaningful: why history matters; how we build the historical record; the message you want remembered; stories photos tell; the difference I make in the world.

Saving the World One Generation at a Time [49]
School year covers social movements by decade in the 20th century: Greatest/Silent Generation; through Baby Boomers, with a focus on civil rights, labor, student antiwar movements & May 4; culminating with key movements for Gen X, Y & Z. Concepts include patterns, good & evil, strain theory.

Student Protest at Kent State: May 4th 1970 POV [53]
In this combined ELA/SS plan, students study both multiple points of view and delve deeper into individual POVs/particular topic in order to understand the climate and what it was like to come of age in 1970s Ohio. They move from the differing voices in Wiles' Kent State to answering questions about a particular POV. For their final project, they add in socio-historical content, presented in a format of choice.

Students in the Anti-War Movement and the Long Sixties [54]
Primary documents from the long sixties ground students’ charting of the costs and benefits of student activism. Breakout groups develop action plans and defend their view of the most effective form of student activism.

The Power of Protest and Dissent [56]
Injustice and protest—individual and collective—in history and literature and today. Affirms young people can make a difference. Students research/write on different topics from an extensive menu and share new knowledge.

Turbulent Times of the 1960s-1970s: Anti-Vietnam War Focus [57]
Look in this plan for engaging techniques—and the theme of voice sounded throughout: strengthening one’s voice; Nick Saban’s voice commenting on May 4; the draft negating one’s voice; perception changing how one’s voice is heard; was the voice of the hawk or the dove stronger?; is one’s voice heard more loudly through music and art? Included is an artwork created by Sandy Scheuer and Jeff Miller shortly before they were killed on May 4—swirls of deep colors, with the embedded message “Who Is To Say?"

Understanding the Power and Damage and Implications of Media Messaging [58]
Students learn the concept of a national narrative—controlled by those in power; presented through mainstream media; and containing messages that obscure truth. Using multiple techniques and sources, students decode multimedia messages to dismantle ahistorical narratives and misinformation.

Unit Plan: Topics of the 60s [59]
Opening up the history of May 4 through several lenses and a range of activities, this plan creates space for students to process their feelings and views. They progress through the draft lottery; First Amendment; protest; the May 4 site; and the federal civil trial brought by the May 4 families. They blog, reflect, analyze, create a digital collage for a public gallery walk, and conduct an oral history with someone who experienced the long sixties.

Vietnam, Nixon, and the Protests Movement DBQ [62]
A DBQ-type project with sources illustrating long sixties sociopolitical divides (incl. Kent & Jackson State); document analysis; student reflection on what they would have done.

Were 1st Amendment rights violated on the Kent State Campus on May 4, 1970? [63]
Students look through frames including the First Amendment; US Supreme Court decisions; patterns during the long sixties; messages of protest music; May 4 chronology; the lives of Allison, Bill, Sandy, and Jeff; witness accounts; and evidence of the historic site to gauge the balance of rights and injustice and reflect on connections to their own lives.

What's Your Perspective on May 4th? [65]
What mistakes were made? What is worth remembering? Students keep these questions in mind while working hands on with/analyzing: a May 4 documentary, yearbook, headlines, audio, map, photos, quotes, Wiles' Kent State, the statement of regret, and the site itself.

Youth Activism in American History: A Homeschool Unit Study for Middle School Students [66]
Through a breadth of multimedia sources this homeschool unit contextualizes May 4 within youth activism throughout American history to find meaning of use for movements today. Range of activities includes adopting perspective of person on site during May 4. Inquiry questions include What happens when needed sources don’t exist? And Why did guardsmen fire?