Sample Teaching Plans: US Vietnam War

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.

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.

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 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 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.

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 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 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 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 Inquiry: IB History of the Americas [38]
Students’ preceding work views the Vietnam War as a case study for how well American democracy functions. This line of inquiry is repeated for May 4, regarding which students select a focus from one of 8 elements of democracy spelling out R-E-S-P-E-C-T, such as R is for rights.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?"

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.

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.

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?