Sample Teaching Plans: Finding Your Voice, Taking Action Today

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.

American Literature Unit [3]
As part of a Black history and culture curriculum, students consider “law and order yesterday and today.” They study manifestations of law and order in the Civil Rights era; the Orangeburg, Kent State & Jackson State shootings; contemporary police shootings; and presidential policy. Students conclude work with thoughts about ways to bridge the underlying divides.

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.

Clue: What/Who was the domestic enemy on May 4th? [6]
Employs SCIM-C for historical interpretation and Frayer model to define domestic enemy. Students consider how past movements shine light on resolving issues in today’s movements and take community action.

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.

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 Lesson Plan [19]
US Supreme Court decisions affecting pre-college student rights; one most important to each student. May 4: Doug Wrentmore interview; why didn’t students leave area?; who was responsible? May 4 meaning for citizens & dissenters today. Activities incl. creating late night talk show and a debate.

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.

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.

Language Arts Choice Board Options [27] - created as collaboration with projects 40 and 50
The ELA component of a collaborative, cross-disciplinary approach, this plan offers students a choice of 3 activities: a dramatic irony creative piece incorporating historical facts/events; analysis of 3 multimedia pieces treating the same topic; new activism plan featuring 3 strategies employed in the past by Kent State students. Students also learn the May 4 history, visit the site, and write a final reflection read by teachers of 4 subject areas.

Making Meaning from May 4th: Unit plan [29]
Administrator’s plan for interwoven, 8-day cross-disciplinary teaching of May 4 by ELA/SS/Media Specialist faculty. Topics/sources/work incl. the history and significance of May 4; pro-/anti-Vietnam War posters (students then create their own poster); researching in KSU’s May 4 Collection; May 4 site visit. Students reflect on: How does May 4 connect to my life and to preventing similar scenarios during social justice protests today?

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 with May 4th Project [33]
"Grandpa" feels that young people should be seen and not heard. Students study the significance of May 4 and success in today’s protest movements to prove that their voices should be heard. They communicate that they can make positive social change: Dear Grandpa,...

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.”

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 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

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.

Pushing Their Buttons [46]
Students understand May 4 in the context of the Vietnam antiwar movement as displayed on protest buttons. Background and close readings of a succession of buttons reveal stakeholders, progression of the movement, persuasion techniques, and impact on the homefront. Students connect to today through design of a button for a cause each believes in.

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.

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.

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.

Socratic Seminar Comparing the Youth Protest Movements of the 1960’s to Today [52]
Socratic seminar feat. comparison/contrast of student protest movements then and now. Student research includes culling evidence from articles on contemporary movements.

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 Day the World Heard: Kent State and Gallaudet University [55]
Recommended especially for ASL, ELA, and history classes, students compare/contrast May 4 and Gallaudet University’s Deaf President Now protest. They apply the First Amendment to determine Were the protests peaceful? And discuss benefits/negative outcomes of protest. Activities incl. creating a graphic storyboard.

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?"

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 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?