Monday, April 25, 2011

United States Reaction to the Vietnam War: A Nation Divided

Country Joe McDonald- "Feel like I'm Fixing to Die"

Background Information/Rationale: This lesson plan is a follow up to an initial lesson plan that provided students with background knowledge on the Vietnam War. Last session we read this primary source document: American Policy in Vietnam: President Lyndon B. Johnson, April 7, 1965. 
At the end of the previous lesson the students wrote a response on what it would have been like to turn 18 during the Vietnam War. Throughout this lesson, students will work on comprehension strategies as they synthesize and analyze songs produced in the United States during the Vietnam War. 

Title: United States Reaction to Vietnam War: A Nation Divided    
Common Core Standards: 

New York State Standards:
Students will demonstrate the ability:
  • Analyze and discuss with classmates the effect the media had on the Vietnam War, especially in regards to past wars 
  • Evaluate the supporting and opposing reactions to the Vietnam War in the United States through cooperative learning groups. 
  • Examine the policy of containment in the United States and how it influenced the U.S. decision to stay involved in Vietnam
  • Produce a written paragraph 
  1. This website provides a summary of the anti war movement in the United States 
  2. YouTube Video: Live from Woodstock, Country Joe and the Fish: “I feel like I’m fixing to die” (See above)
  3. Map of Vietnam
  4. Lyndon Johnson’s Report on the Gulf of Tonkin Incident:
  5. What Really Happened at Tonkin Gulf? 60 Minutes Opening:
Instructional Phase:
1.   Review Vietnam War Vocabulary by utilizing classroom Word Wall:
  1. Containment: A United States policy using military, economic, and diplomatic strategies to stall the spread of communism, enhance America's security and influence abroad, and prevent a "domino effect."
  2. Domino Theory: If one country fell to the Communists, it was thought that the neighboring countries would follow.
  3. Gulf of Tonkin Resolution (1964): Congress gave the president power to use all necessary measures to stop the North Vietnamese aggression. This led to an increase in military involvement in Vietnam.
2. Provide students with review of background knowledge of the Vietnam War. Talk about the power of movements. Have students think back to the Civil Rights Movement.
3. Read President Johnson's Message to Congress, August 5, 1964. It can be found here.
4. Break students into small groups to discuss.
5. Now that students have greater background knowledge of the Vietnam look at multiple media images and film that provide different views of the American public during the Vietnam War.
Here are a few examples that could be included. There are a number of sources out there so I would not limit yourself to only this list. You may also want to discuss with students that there is a lack of pro Vietnam War songs compared to the significant number of anti war songs.
  1.  Ohio by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young  
  2. For What it’s Worth by Buffalo Springfield
Photographs can be found on this blog:
Key Discussion Questions:
What is its message? Does it simply express an opinion about the war, or does it also call on listeners to take some action? What sorts of reactions might different people (such as a young person eligible to be drafted, a soldier serving in Vietnam, or the parent of such a soldier) have to the song, image?
*Questions taken from:
5. Provide students with Lessons/Impacts of the Vietnam War:
·         Public support is necessary to fight & win a war.
·         Presidential power expands in time of war.
·         American people lost some faith in their government.
·         The United States must be more cautious in foreign policy and when making military commitments.
6. Closing Activity: Write a paragraph describing why a person might have joined the demonstrations for or against the Vietnam War.

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