Sample Teaching Plans: The Human Side of 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.

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.

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 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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 Inquiry [60]
Stances on the Vietnam War—including MLK’s and Muhammad Ali’s—and the war’s impact on Americans, illustrated by draft lottery, The Things They Carried, the cost in lives, iconic war photos spurring protest, and May 4. Students reflect on how they would have responded.

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.

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.