Lesson PlansBack to lesson plans archive November 12, 2018
Lesson plan: Veterans Day and the meaning of sacrifice
Use this PBS NewsHour lesson plan to help students understand the significance of Veterans Day and the meaning of sacrifice. Students will identify important veterans in their lives, examine an interactive timeline of military history and study issues facing veterans today.
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? 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 was 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.
By Katie Gould, NewsHour Extra Teacher Resource Producer
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
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
More Lesson Plans
Tooltip of more video block
Tooltip of RSS content 3
Impeachment inquiry: How civics helps eclipse partisanship
Use this NewsHour lesson plan to hear about Trump’s chief of staff Mick Mulvaney’s press conference on the impeachment inquiry. Continue readingconstitutioncurrent eventsDonald TrumpEmoluments ClauseG7 summitGordon SondlandGovernment & Civicsimpeachmentlesson planMick MulvaneymilitarypartisanshipPoliticsquid pro quoRudy GiulianiSchiffSocial StudiesSuper Civics 2020Ukraine
Super Civics 2020: The fourth Democratic debate
Use this NewsHour Extra lesson to discuss Tuesday’s Democratic Debate, debate strategies that work and the number of candidates on the debate stage. Continue readingcurrent eventsdebate strategiesDemocratic DebateDemocratsDonald Trumpelection 2020elizabeth warrenGovernment & Civicslesson planPresidential CampaignSocial StudiesSuper Civics 2020Teaching for DemocracyVote 2020
Turkish offensive in northern Syria leads to ‘chaos’ for Kurds
Use this NewsHour lesson to learn about the Turkish offensive into northern Syria and the chaos that has ensued for the Kurds of that region. Continue readingCivicscurrent eventsDonald TrumpELAenglishEnglish & Language Artsforeign affairsHervin KhalafISISKurdish fightersKurdslesson planMike PompeoSocial StudiesState DepartmentSusan RiceSyriaSyrian KurdsTurkey
Frontline’s “The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia” and the murder of Jamal Khashoggi
In this NewsHour lesson, learn more about Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the latest PBS Frontline special. Continue readingdocumentariesdocumentaryEconomicsforeign affairsForeign Policyfreedom of the pressFrontlineG20 Summitglobal issuesGovernment & Civicshuman rightsinternational affairsinvestigative reportingJamal KhashoggiJournalismlesson planMarcela GaviriaMartin SmithMBSNews & Media Literacynews literacyPoliticsPrince Mohammed bin SalmanSaudi ArabiaSocial Studieswashington post
Super Civics 2020: Impeachment recap for students via Shields and Brooks
Use this NewsHour lesson plan to take a deeper look into the first week since Speaker Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump. Continue readingCongressDonald Trumpelection 2020Government & CivicsimpeachmentNancy PelosiNews & Media Literacynews literacypartisanshipPoliticsShields and BrooksSuper Civics 2020UkraineVote 2020whisteblower