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Man in Conflict - Vietnam and Literature

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Keywords: American Literature
Subject(s): Writing, Music, Reading, English/Language Arts, History
Grade 11
School: Randleman High School, Randleman, NC
Planned By: Amanda Edwards Whatley
Original Author: Amanda Edwards, Randleman
1. Students are introduced to the Vietnam War Era with a pop culture quiz involving music and media of the time period. The quiz is also a good tool to guage students' prior knowledge of time period.

2. Students will be given song lyrics for "War Pigs" by Black Sabbath, "Fortunate Son" by Creedance Clearwater Revival, and "For What It's Worth" by Buffalo Springfield. These can be given as handouts or put on an overhead for class discussion. As a class, or in small groups, explicate the lyrics. Identify and discuss literary devices used within the songs and how these devices add meaning and importance to the lyric.

3. Arrange a video viewing of each song. Use Vietnam era footage videos to add impact. Discuss any changes, if any, the students found in the meaning of the lyrics once viewed in a new media form. These can be found on Youtube, Teachertube and googlevideo.

4. Introduce Tim O'Brien's novel The Things They Carried. Read this as a class, and as at home reading discussing the images and language used. Use guided questions to lead students to identify various conflicts that arise in the text and within themselves as they read.
a. Man vs Self
b. Man vs Man
c. Man vs Environment
d. Man vs Society

5. Show clips from the HBO documentary "Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam." Discussion should continue regarding conflict as revealed in the video and in the novel. What are the similarities? What are the differences? Which media is more believable?

6. Show students CNN article discussing soldiers in Iraq and the things they have carried with them to war. View slideshow from article as class.

Please be sure to preview all media before showing to students. Some material may be inappropriate for all levels and will need to be edited.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
This lesson can be used in a US history class, focusing on timelines and geography.
Assign writing exercise asking students to write a letter home from war.
Assign short story exercise. Students should write a "war story" using Tim O'Brien's writing style.
Links: Link to CNN
Link to YouTube
Link to TeacherTube
Materials: Mobile Labs, Portable, MP3 Players, Video Tools, Hard Drives