Veteran’s Day and Oral Histories

November, 2011

With Veteran’s Day coming up, it’s an appropriate time to check out FCIT’s Vietnam War Oral History resource. This is a collection of oral histories from the Vietnam War. It is a series of  short video clips by 13 people talking about their experiences in the Vietnam War. The oral histories were recorded by students.

Hearing people recount their involvement in the war can have a big impact in creating interest and understanding for students.

With a few modifications, students can participate in a “somewhat-similar” activity to incorporate drama/theater into their classroom studies. Public speaking and presentation are important parts of drama/theater instruction. Here is a lesson suggestion that can help your students not only learn about  particular people involved in the Vietnam War (or any war/conflict), but also improve their speaking and presentation/delivery skills.

1. Share some of the Oral Histories from the FCIT web site. Explain what a true Oral History is.

2. Tell students that they are going to participate in a “modified version” of  an oral history. They are to choose (or be assigned) a person from a war. (Have a prepared list of names (prominent soldiers, leaders, politicians, civilians, etc.) They are to research that person and then prepare an “oral history” of some event or memory that person experienced. (That student “will become” that person whose name the student was assigned.)

3. Students can work in pairs to video the “modified oral history” for the class to watch, or the students can simply present the “talk” in person to the class .

4. Students could bring artifacts to share, have a video/or PowerPoint-type presentation of relevant pictures or could dress in attire from the era.

5. An enhancement to the lesson would be for students (or teacher) to invite someone they know who may have participated in some way in the Vietnam War, or someone who lived during that era but was not in the war but was impacted by the war times, to the classroom to give a “live” oral history presentation. With the visitor’s permission, the session can be recorded for a true “oral history” document.


P.S. Don’t forget to ask your colleagues if they know someone who could visit as an “oral history” source.

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