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Teacher's Guide: Hints for the Active Learning Questions

% History

  1. An example of a potential "missed opportunity" is the Gulf of Tonkin incident: The United States could have chosen not to intensify its military activities in the region after the incident, or could have chosen to intensify those activities but only after a formal declaration of war by Congress.

  2. Students may want to consult the interactive calendar feature, Shock Year: 1968, on American Experience's RFK Web site to learn more about events in the United States during perhaps the most tumultuous of the Vietnam years.

  3. Students may want to cite information from this site's timeline, the reflections of people who fought in the war, primary sources about the war, and other parts of the Web site.


  1. You might start this activity by asking the class to guess when the United States last declared war: December 8, 1941 (against Japan).

    Students doing the third activity may want to address the War Powers Resolution, which Congress passed in 1973 to limit the President's ability to use military force overseas and which is referred to in the 2002 Iraq resolution.

  2. Students might also want to watch interviews with Vietnam War correspondents at the Web site of the Newseum.


  1. Before deciding what information to include in their maps, students might want to list basic questions about the war (such as when and where it was fought, what the opposing sides were, and when and how it ended) so they can be sure to address such questions in their maps. Possible locations and events to include are the capital cities of the two Vietnams, the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the names of the countries that border Vietnam, and the Tet Offensive.


  1. The What's Your Bag? activity on the American Experience Web site, Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst, includes lyrics from popular songs. You might also ask students why they think so few pop songs today address political themes.

  2. Teachers should make sure that students view films made throughout the time period from the war to the present day so that the timeline portion of the activity can be completed. Among the many films addressing some aspect of the war are Apocalypse Now, Born on the Fourth of July, Casualties of War, The Deer Hunter, First Blood, Full Metal Jacket, Green Berets, Platoon, The Quiet American, and We Were Soldiers.

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