Sample Teaching Plans: Differences in How Events Are Portrayed

2021 NEH Project [1]
Students study types of social movements, stances on protest and injustice, and May 4. Employing a decision tree, they answer, “Where is that line for me? At what point should action be taken, if at all?”

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.

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.

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.

End of the Sixties [10]
This partial plan begins with point-counterpoint excerpts from differing views expressed April 30, 1970, when President Nixon announced his Cambodia invasion, through the Kent State shootings, May 4, 1970. Passages offer valuable practice decoding reliability of sources. Writing an additional stanza for “Ohio” connects students to comparable events and issues in their time.

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.

Film class unit plan [12]
To begin, students evaluate scenarios detailing civil disobedience and consider which action was most admirable or most fitting or required a better response. Vietnam era film study includes live script reading of Remember My Lai. Understanding that they’re hearing varying perspectives on the massacre, students proceed from My Lai to May 4 and each sharing striking lines from an oral history of May 4 and connect their cumulative understanding to striking Vietnam veteran artwork.

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.

How does imagery-visual media impact the human experience? [14]
In this visual arts plan, students examine How do visual media impact human experience? In addition to learning what happened on May 4, students analyze the exhibit in the Kent State University May 4 Visitors Center; a documentary with commentary about creation of exhibits relating the lives of Allison Krause, Bill Schroeder, Jeff Miller, and Sandy Scheuer, who were killed by guardsmen on May 4, 1970; and a video with closeups of the still exhibits. Students create joy board or praise panel about someone they know.

How May 4, 1970 Affected Mid-Michigan [15]
After reading The Things They Carried, students look at what happened on May 4 and then how the shootings impacted a mid-Michigan county, Alma College, and Central Michigan University—informed by newspaper reports, a post-shootings letter, photos, and a retrospective from CMU, and Prentice Hall’s 2008 history textbook.

Kent State [17]
For this history unit for an arts school, incorporates performing arts and potentially drama, students choose a perspective on day 1, such as protestor, guardsman, Black United Students member, governor, from which they will write their first monologue. Staying with that perspective, they will respond to other elements, incl. “Ohio”; thoughts from the mother of US soldier in the Vietnam War; the Guard’s statement of regret; memorial markers at Kent State. Students conclude with reflection on events of their lifetime.

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 Lesson Plans [20]
Perspectives of US personnel who served in Vietnam; repercussions of the war & May 4 in Iowa; civil rights; student speech rights; antiwar protest; Orangeburg/Kent State/Jackson State.

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 University May 4, 1970 [24]
Includes overview of May 4, the resulting national student strike, and memorialization. Preparation for a mock trial has students review larger protest movement; KSU protests May 1–3, 1970; decisions to deploy Guard to Kent and to fire on students; testimonies from those on site May 4.

Kent State Week [25]
Following understanding the counterculture belief that social change was needed, students study and analyze the reliability of multiple sources on the May 2, 1970, ROTC fire. Each student gathers additional perspectives by surveying 6 people regarding who was responsible on May 4—to determine Whose Truth Endures?

KSU Shootings [26]
Previous study includes Nixon’s Cambodia invasion announcement and his calling student protestors “bums.” Sources to build understanding of May 4 include photos, “Ohio,” site visit and maps, chronology. Students select from a project choice board that includes: what they’d have done on May 4; prosecution of the 28 guardsmen who fired; creative work; comparing Orangeburg, Kent State, Jackson State; Supreme Court decisions on student free speech; and bios of Allison Krause, Jeff Miller, Sandy Scheuer, and Bill Schroeder, killed by guardsmen on May 4.

Lessons May 4th [28]
May 4 Teaching Manual might well be the title for this plan that features 4 complete, themed lessons to use in succession (in the author’s case, as prelude to The Things They Carried) or individually. Each contains a range of sources, assignments, and tools (e.g., No, Low, and More tech options for particular activities). Lesson topics are: 1) Civil Rights Movement & Vietnam War; 2) dissent at Kent State ’60s–’70s; 3) Kent State as representative of protest at US colleges; 4) Kent State, May 1–4, 1970, “They had it coming.” Counterpoint: Nixon’s own appointees determined that the shootings were “unnecessary, unwarranted, and inexcusable.”

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.

Making Meaning of May 4th: The 1970 Kent State Shootings in US History [32]
Students examine and construct arguments on May 4 in the context of the First Amendment & US Supreme Court interpretations of their free speech rights and perspectives they learn on the National Guard.

May 4th Project Instructions [39]
Students demonstrate understanding of May 4 through tasks including an artistic graphic organizer with images and text; composing a summary statement on a prompt such as How will May 4 affect the next decade?; joining a Twitter Beef in the guise of a key May 4 figure and responding to How might May 4 have been characterized differently if Twitter existed in 1970?

Middle school cross-curricular unit plan [40] - created as collaboration with projects 27 and 50
This science class component of a collaborative, cross-disciplinary approach has students using math and tools to gather data and information; thinking critically to connect evidence and explanation; and developing models and description. Specific tasks include analyzing an oral history; researching May 4 photographic record; and conducting a new oral history. Students also learn the May 4 history, visit the site, and write a final reflection read by teachers of 4 subject areas.

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 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.

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.

Rhetoric of the Kent State Shootings [48]
Study begins with rhetorical analysis of Vietnam–era political speech and cartoons; printed accounts of May 4; and “Ohio.” Students then practice the power of music to persuade by composing a protest song.

Social Studies Choice Board Options [50]
This social studies component of a collaborative, cross-disciplinary approach features choice board options: compare/contrast the Boston Massacre & Kent State Shootings; reliability of May 4 sources; First Amendment freedoms/boundaries and absence of freedoms in another country. Activities include visiting the May 4 site and a final reflection read by teachers of 4 subject areas.

Sociology Lesson Plan [51]
In this sociological approach, students study the changing nature of society; individual and collective behavior; and social problems today. Students examine civil rights and sixties protests; Orangeburg/Kent State/Jackson State; and the times via documentaries and protest music, flyers, banners, and artwork and compose a creative work expressing their own social change agenda.

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.

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 Through the Lenses of College Students: Kent State and Jackson State [61]
Students examine challenges, including racism, for US soldiers in the Vietnam War, paralleled by the rise of the student antiwar movement and Black Student Movement. They will feel the human side of history through recognition of the African American man awarded the first Medal of Honor of the Vietnam War. And they will compare and contrast the killings at Kent State and Jackson State, including media response.

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.

What was the cause of the Kent State Shooting? [64]
Multiple perspectives/types of sources—testimonial, chronological, comparable, legal—prepare students to consider motive and justice in the Kent State shootings case & student activism then and now.

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?