Lesson PlansBack to lesson plans archive November 10, 2014
The greatest sacrifice – Veterans Day Lesson Plan
By Katie Gould, NewsHour Extra Teacher Resource Producer
World history, government and civics, U.S. wars, geography
One 45-minute class
Middle and high school
Warning: Due to the large number of students who either have friends or family that serve in the armed forces please take care and be sensitive when discussing Veterans Day.
Warm Up Activity
2. Watch “Bet You Didn’t Know – Veterans Day” from the History Channel (below) as a class.
3. Watch Student Reporting Labs’ Veterans Day video featuring students from military families living here in the U.S. and around the world.
Background on U.S. Wars
Share the interactive timeline below with students and watch videos associated with U.S. wars. You may choose the wars your class knows the least about or play what you have time for. Click on the timeline to scroll through to each event, and click on the images above the timeline to watch short videos on the war.
Main Activity – Special Issues for Today’s Veterans
- As a class, brainstorm the risks and benefits of being a soldier today and write answers on the board. Let the class know that they are going to take a closer look at some of the issues that veterans face today and how these challenges are being treated.
- Read to students: With new medical and life-saving technology more troops are surviving traumatic injuries that would have sealed their fate just decades ago. The effects of the increase in soldiers dealing with severe injuries such as losing limbs, traumatic brain injuries and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has taxed the Veterans Administration (V.A.) at unprecedented levels leaving response time to disability claims anywhere from months to years. Further, both an increase in an aging veteran population as well as female veterans brings new challenges to the V.A. Let’s look more in depth at the issues facing today’s veterans.
Part 1 – Waiting for benefits
- Watch the above video clip, “Veterans’ Disability Delayed.”
- Read the Center for Investigative Reporting article “For Disabled Veterans Awaiting Benefits Decisions, Location Matters” by Aaron Glantz.
- Explore the accompanying interactive map either as a class or in pairs and pass out the “Waiting for Help” worksheet to students.
Part 2 – How phantom limbs are successfully being treated today
Watch the TED Talk “3 clues to understanding your brain” by VS Ramachandran (in particular, highlight the excerpt from 9:15-17:45).
Part 3 – Unique challenges that women veterans face
Watch the PBS NewsHour report “Women Veterans Face Unique Obstacles, Needs.”
Part 4 – Veterans and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- What is PTSD, and how does it manifest in veterans? Watch the story of one veteran.
- How is PTSD diagnosed? Look at the Diagnostic Statistical Manual V Criteria for PTSD or Self-Report Questionnaire for PTSD.
- How is it treated? Hear about treatment options from the Veterans Association.
- Write a Veterans Day thank you note. Use this lesson plan to help your students identify and understand important veterans in their life.
- Write an argument to either support or reject claims that veterans today face challenges that veterans in the past did not using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
- Choose one of the wars that were featured on the interactive timeline and write three short narrative-snap shots including one day in the life of that veteran before, during, and after the war using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
A special thanks to my grandfather, Joe Sidor (pictured above), and his family for his many years of service as a Marine during World War II, his work in China after World War II and the Korean War.
An additional thank you to Susan Dickson for contributing photographs for the story.
The Materials You Need
Tooltip of materials
Common Core Standards
Tooltip of standarts
Relevant National Standards:
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.7.1 Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.8.1 Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.7.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.8.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.7.7 Compare and contrast a text to an audio, video, or multimedia version of the text, analyzing each medium’s portrayal of the subject (e.g., how the delivery of a speech affects the impact of the words).
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.8.7 Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of using different mediums (e.g., print or digital text, video, multimedia) to present a particular topic or idea.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.2 Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.2 Determine two or more central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to provide a complex analysis; provide an objective summary of the text.
Tooltip of related stories
Tooltip of more video block
Tooltip of RSS content 3
Student Reporting Labs STEM Lesson Plan: Climate Change, Salmon and NOAA
In this PBS Student Reporting Labs video, Oregon teens consult government agencies on the consequences of unchecked human actions on the natural environment. Problems associated with warming waters, climate change, and suburban development, brings the expression “think globally, act locally” home with the very real impacts on the commercially important sock-eye salmon of the Pacific Northwest. Students are exposed to the work of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the research and resources they provide. Continue readingagricultureartbiologychemistrydroughtearth scienceecologyenvironmental sciencefishNOAAoceanographysalmonScienceSocial StudiesSRLstudent reporting labs
Gerrymandering and partisan politics in the U.S.
The practice of drawing congressional district lines to benefit one political party over another is known as gerrymandering and dates back to the 19th century. Continue readingCivicsDemocratic PartyDemocratsElection 2016gerrymandergerrymanderingGovernmentRepublican PartyRepublicansSocial Studiesstate legislature
Debating Our Destiny: Do Presidential Debates Matter? – Lesson Plan
The presidential debates have been an important part of the U.S. election process for decades, but how much do they really influence voters? In this lesson, students will watch video clips from PBS NewsHour’s “Debating Our Destiny” with Jim Lehrer, which includes famous debate moments as well as interviews with the candidates themselves. Continue readingCivicsdebatingDonald TrumpElection 2016Hillary ClintonJim LehrerLee Banvillepresidential debatesSocial Studies
Where do the presidential candidates stand on education?
As Election Day approached, the candidates running for president have made and effort to appeal to parents, teachers and students by showing them where they stand on education.CampaignDonald TrumpeducationElection 2016Hillary Clinton
Candidates cite security qualifications after weekend attacks
Following pipe bomb attacks over the weekend, the presidential candidates each took a moment to assure voters of their national security qualifications. Continue readingCampaignElection 2016extremismterrorist attacks