Walking by the Wall: A Virtual Trip to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
by Hsiao-chien Lee
To many tourists the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a "must-see" spot in Washington D.C. For students who cannot really make the trip, this lesson provides them a virtual trip. Through this lesson they do not only see what the Wall is like but also read about it. They may come up with deeper thoughts toward wars or make life connections.
Lesson Topic – War Theme UnitGrade/Proficiency Level:
Grades 6-8 intermediate to advanced ESLContent goals:
Students will learn about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Students will be able to express and share their thoughts and attitudes toward wars.Language goals:
Students will listen to a picture book about the Wall, read an introductory text about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and use the English language to express their thoughts and to discuss within a group.Materials:
The Wall, picture book by Eve Bunting and Ronald Himler; photos downloaded from Google Search Image; KWL chart; an introductory text about the Wall downloaded from the website; a video clip from Youtube; excerpts on the panels of the Wall, downloaded from the website.Vocabulary:
veteran, memorial, panel, construction, design, casualty, dedicateInstructional Sequence:
- Activate students’ background knowledge by showing them some images of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, downloaded by doing a Google Image search.
- Ask students what they know about the Wall in Washington D.C. Put down students’ answers briefly under the “K’ category in the KWL chart (Know, Want to Know, Learned).
- Give a very brief introduction of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Tell students that the main part of the memorial was completed in 1982. The total number of the names listed on the Memorial now is 58,253. They are the names of those who were killed or remain missing from the war. The names are etched on black granite panels that compose the Wall.
- Read aloud the picture book, The Wall by Eve Bunting and Ronald Himler. Ask students to share their responses to the book with a partner. Write down some discussion hints on the blackboard in case students do not know how to get started. (Discussion hints: Talk about what makes you wonder, what makes you sad, what you don’t understand, what reminds you of another book or a real life event, etc.)
- Divide students into small groups. Make sure in each group there are advanced readers as well as struggling readers. Assign each group member a task: the speaker, the note-taker, the highlighter, and the discussion facilitator.
- Have each group discuss what more they want to know about the Wall. The note-taker writes the answers down under the “W” category in the KWL chart.
- Distribute students an excerpt downloaded from The Vietnam Veterans Memorial website. Have students read together the excerpt within their group. The highlighter underlines the information the group has wanted to know more about earlier and circles the vocabulary.
- Ask each group to reflect what they have learned from the reading. The note-taker writes down at least three things under the “L” category in the KWL chart. The speaker reports them to the whole class.
- Show students the video clip of the Wall from Youtube. Also read to students some of the names and information given under those names. The Virtual Wall website contains all the information etched on the panels).
- Ask students to share their final thougts.
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