Course overview/Target Audience
What do you know about the Vietnam War? Find out what really happened, & how it still affects us today. See Huey helicopters in action, hear gripping firsthand accounts of men in the fight trying to save their buddies, make connections, & gain a deeper understanding of this controversial war. Analyze primary sources, use your sense of discovery and questioning to guide you, and dive in.
This course is suitable for students in 8th or 9th grade, and anyone interested in learning more about this time period in U.S. History, as well as mature enough to handle the images and information that come along with studying a guerrilla war and the events and conditions associated with it.
This course includes:
40 thought-provoking lessons with 10 hours of video, including many video, audio & text primary sources
42+ activities, with answer keys, to further students’ learning on each topic, spark inquiry, and make thoughtful connections
40 quizzes to ensure understanding of each lesson
Enrichment resources for further study
Materials needed: paper notebook or digital notebook for notes, questions, prompts and activities embedded in video lessons, internet and computer capabilities to watch videos and search for links related to the lesson videos.
Students will understand the reason the U.S. and the North Vietnamese were fighting each other, who assisted each side and why, and learn about communism and the concept of containment and how that relates to the Domino Theory. Students will also understand how and why advisors were sent to Vietnam to assist the South Vietnamese, how the numbers of Americans sent to fight escalated through different presidencies, the goal of each president, and what was shared with the American public. I will address the experiences of the troops, the role of the press in the war, and the effects of front line coverage on the U.S. homefront. Students will understand why there were protests at home, how the war ended, and what Vietnam is like today, as well as reconciliation efforts between the two countries.
Ability to watch videos in their entirety, and to find videos that need to be watched as part of the course (free and online), digital notebook or paper on which to take notes during each lesson, writing utensils, printer to print out map worksheets, ability to use resources and activities to apply the lessons and fully understand all the different factors that led to this difficult, complex and controversial war. A clean, clear dedicated work area will help you stay organized. This is a very serious topic, but I do find a sense of humor and an open mind are good items to pack in any learning situation.
Module 1: How Did We Get Here? Geography, History, the Beginning
Lesson 1: Sun Tzu quote and reference maps: location, geography and climate of Vietnam Video
- A quote for us to keep in mind throughout all of these lessons, and maps of Vietnam - Ho Chi Minh Trail, bordering countries, topography, population, regions, herbicide map
- Activity: Label map of Vietnam
- Activity: Geography of Vietnam - further reading & questions
Lesson 2: The Roots of the Conflict: Political History Part 1 Video
- Political background of Vietnam and the U.S. and their relationship.
- Activity: Embedded in the slide presentation:
- Record vocabulary words, inquiry on Domino Theory, analyze illustrations of Domino Theory, and define vocabulary words given
Lesson 3: Cold War Context: Truman Doctrine
- How have recent events in the Cold War affected the U.S.? What does Truman promise to European countries and others after WWII that will directly relate to the Vietnam Conflict?
- Activity: Read Churchill’s “Iron Curtain Speech” and Truman’s “Truman Doctrine Address” in their entirety and jot down the tone of each and the major points of each. What is the essence of each?
Lesson 4: Cold War Context: Bay of Pigs & Cuban Missile Crisis Part 1
- Background to Vietnam: What was the plan for the Bay of Pigs invasion?
- How did the outcome affect JFK and his advisors when it came to the Cuban Missile Crisis?
- Activity: Causes and effects of the Bay of Pigs invasion
Lesson 5: Cold War Context: Cuban Missile Crisis Part 2 Oct. 16-28, 1962
- Background to Vietnam: What happened in the Cuban Missile Crisis? How did the outcome inform JFK and future presidents, and affect the relationship between the US and the USSR?
- Activity: Fill in the blanks with information from the lesson video
Lesson 6: The Roots of the Conflict: Political History Part 2 Video
- Kennedy takes the middle route.
- Geneva Accords
- Vietnamese nationalists led by Ho Chi Minh + Viet Cong, Ngo Dinh Diem put in as president of South Vietnam with U.S. support Civil War in Vietnam
- Activity: Create and maintain a timeline of events in the Vietnam War
Lesson 7: Advisors, Tonkin Gulf, Escalation Part 1 Video
- Who's who in North v South, JFK and the Cold War pressure
- Activity Gulf of Tonkin Investigation: Analyze sequence of events & chart
Lesson 8: Advisors, Tonkin Gulf, Escalation Part 2 Video
- 1963 and 1964 bring big changes and shifting sands in both Vietnam and in the U.S.. How will Lyndon Johnson react when torpedoes are fired?
- Activity: Analyze Problems & Advantages of LBJ's Approach
Lesson 9: Advisors, Tonkin Gulf, Escalation Part 3 Video
- Tonkin Gulf Incident and President Johnson's response. Congress gives authorization for forces to protect South Vietnam.
- Activity: Gulf of Tonkin incident readings and analysis Chart to investigate readings
Module 2: Escalation, Ia Drang Valley Battles 1965
Lesson 10: Guerrilla Tactics & Insurgency Video
- VC use hit and run guerrilla tactics to try to get the Americans to quit.
- Activity: Vietnam War Communist Guerrilla Tactics and American
- Counterinsurgency blog - read and answer questions, watch Cu Chi Tunnels video, revisit Sun Tzu quote
Lesson 11: Like Fish Through the Sea Video
- Ground war realities for U.S. soldiers.
- Activity: Compare two videos of soldiers’ reflections on their service - W.D. Ehrhart and Carl Block. Make a chart or write out your answer.
Lesson 12: Combat - Search and Destroy vs. Stamina of the VC Video
- Search and Destroy tactics by the Americans vs. Stamina of the VC
- Who should be drafted and why?
- Activity: Questions about VC attitude, attrition and morale
Lesson 13: Ia Drang Valley Battle, Vietnam in HD Ep 1 1964-1965 Video
- In the first major engagement of the war between regular U.S. and North Vietnamese forces, elements of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) fight a pitched battle with Communist main-force units in the Ia Drang Valley of the Central Highlands.
- Activity: Lesson 10 Answer questions about Ia Drang Valley Battle for LZ X-RAY 1965
Lesson 14: Ia Drang Valley Battle, Vietnam in HD Part 2 Video
- Ia Drang Valley - strategies used, what went well, what didn't and why?
- Activity Lesson 11 Activity - Advisor Question
Module 3: Who Served?
Lesson 15: Through the Eyes of a Grunt
- Images of infantryman to examine and consider
- Activity: Write a letter home as a grunt.
Lesson 16: Profile: Colonel Hal Moore Video
- Colonel Hal Moore in LZ X-RAY and other video clips
- Activity: Connection Question - make connections to leadership characteristics
Lesson 17: Profile: Bill Beck Video, Their hearts beat in unison
- Who is Bill Beck and what was his experience at LZ X-Ray?
- Activity: Research a veteran who was in Vietnam, profile a Vietnam Veteran
Lesson 18: Profile: Larry Gwin Video
- Larry Gwin was at LZ X-Ray and then went to LZ Albany. Learn about this soldier.
- Activity: What have we learned about the NVA soldiers? Reflection question
Lesson 19: Veterans Return to Ia Drang Valley, 1993 Video
- After 28 years, Vietnam veterans we just studied return to the scene of the LZ X-Ray battle
- Activity - Questions about Hal Moore and other Vietnam Veterans return to LZ X-Ray in 1993
Lesson 20: Women Serving in the Vietnam War
- Who served, why, and what were their experiences? What challenges did women face?
- Activity: Interview with female veterans with WHYY. Read it or listen to it, and write your reaction.
Lesson 21: Race in the Vietnam War
- Did race play a role in the Vietnam War? What were the experiences of African American soldiers in the 1960’s in Vietnam?
- Activity 1 NYT article - read
- Activity 2 Guardian article - read and analyze points of view using chart
Lesson 22: Part 1: Equipment Used in the Vietnam War
- Bell UH-1 Iroquois & stories from helicopter pilots
- Activity: Watch raw footage of door gunners in Hueys.
Lesson 23: Equipment Used in the Vietnam War (Part 2)
- B-52 Heavy Bomber, F-4 Phantom, M60 Machine Gun, M16 Machine Gun, Armored Personnel Carrier, Howitzer
- Activity: Watch a lecture by an Air Force History Professor about air power in Vietnam, and answer questions about it
Lesson 24: Brown Water Navy Part 1: Patrol Craft, Fast
- Swift boat/ Patrol Craft, Fast - USS Krishna maintenance crew
- Activity: Watch, read and listen to primary source material related to PCFs and other types of riverine craft.
Lesson 25: Brown Water Navy Part 2: PBRs, Ambush on river
- Patrol Boat, Fast (PBR) combat on rivers. Their use, their adaptations, and the innovation that brought them into war.
- Activity: Watch “The Great Ships - The Gunboats of Vietnam” and answer questions
Module 4: Continued Escalation
Lesson 26: Search and Destroy Strategy in action
- Vietnam in HD Episode 2
- Challenges to troops, number of Americans killed increasing
- “Take Hill 875” The Battle, results, effects back home & on troops
- Activity: Write situation reports to your superiors about Dak To Hill 875 fight with two different measures of victory
Lesson 27: Vietnam War in Pictures
- Inquiry lesson with many photographs from the war
- Activity: Examine pictures that mean something to you. What gives it meaning? Take a picture of your own. Find more photographs by Vietnam War photographers
Lesson 28: January 30, 1968 Tet Offensive
- The NVA attack all South Vietnam cities at once during Tet, Vietnamese New Year.
- Part of their grand battle plan to get citizens to rise up and overthrow the S Vietnamese gov’t. Will it work?
- Activity: Explain how this was a military victory, but a political defeat.
Lesson 29: March 16, 1968 My Lai Massacre
- What happened at My Lai Massacre? How did we get to this point? How did Body Count Ratio factor into this mentality?
- Activity: Make connections to integrity in humans
Lesson 30: Role of the Press in the Vietnam War
- How did Americans & the world find out what was happening in the war?
- Media coverage with platoons under fire
- Activity: Find out the rules for media coverage in wars today.
Lesson 31: Hawks, Doves and Protests at Home
- Anti war protests increase, music, counterculture
- As the casualties and death toll from the war increase, so do feelings against it.
- Activity: Ken Burns protest songs analysis worksheet
Module 5: Deception & Legacy
Lesson 32: Profile of Nixon
- What kind of person was Richard Nixon? Learn about his background and how he grew up. How could his life experiences have contributed to his presidency, if at all?
- Activity: Research an historical figure
Lesson 33: Vietnamization
- 1968 Election, Kissinger, “peace with honor”, Nixon - Silent Majority Speech Bombing raids stepped up secretly (Cambodia & Laos)
- Activity: 1968 Convention & Election. Read background, watch PBS Learning Media links. Answer comprehension questions on the links. Consider all points of view on Nixon’s actions w the S Vietnamese just before the election
Lesson 34: 1971 Pentagon Papers
- Daniel Ellsberg, President Nixon, admins back to Truman had been involved in S Vietnam to varying degrees. Nixon tries to cover his tracks.
- Activity: Comprehension questions from PBS Learning Media using video clips in the lesson.
Lesson 35: “Fog Of War: Eleven Lessons From The Life Of Robert S. McNamara"
- Robert McNamara admits the lies that were told about Vietnam and his reasons for withholding the truth
- Activity: Have you ever had a moral dilemma? What did you decide? Give three specific pieces of information that informed your decision. In hindsight, was it the right decision? Why or why not? What evidence makes you think so?
Lesson 36: 1972
- Nixon administration, Watergate break in, Christmas bombings, relations opened with China and USSR, detente
- Activity: Make a T-chart comparing the positive and negative actions of President Nixon, as you see them
- Activity: This was another difficult year for the U.S. Think of a formative, important, tough or rollercoaster year for you. What happened? How did you hold on throughout it all?
Lesson 37: 1973-1974 The War Ends?
- Main events of these pivotal years as the war comes to a close- or does it?
- Jan 1973 Paris Peace Agreement
- 1974 Nixon resigns
- 1975 North Vietnam invades South Vietnam
- North unifies Vietnam under Communism
- Activity: Finalize map from lesson 1, trace troop movements of NVA into South Vietnam/Saigon.
Lesson 38: April 30, 1975 Fall of Saigon
- NVA Communists take all of South Vietnam.
- U.S. lost the war
- Activity - Culminating - Why did America Lose?
Lesson 39: The Wall
- Remembrance, controversy
- Construction, design, symbolism
- Architect Maya Lin
- Ritual at The Wall
- Activity: Read about Maya Lin, and what aspect was particularly moving to you and why?
Lesson 40: What did we learn?
- Reconciliation between U.S. and Vietnam
- Lies are uncovered as new documents come to light
- Agent Orange
- “Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien
- Lessons from Vietnam