5 Ways to Make Veteran’s Day Meaningful

Veteran’s Day is observed on November 11 each year, the anniversary of the day World War I ended.  Help your students to truly appreciate our veterans’ sacrifices by selecting one or more of the ideas listed here.


#1: Gallery Wall of Veteran Photos

Author's Great-Uncle Milton Brown
Author’s Great-Uncle Milton Brown

On Veteran’s Day, ask your students to bring a photo of a veteran they know.  It could be a parent, aunt, cousin, great-grandfather, or even a neighbor.  Have students bring the following:

  • An 8×10 copy of their veteran’s photo
  • An index card with information that includes:
    • Veteran’s name
    • Student’s name & relationship to veteran
    • Term of service
    • Branch of service and rank
    • Country for which the veteran served
    • Any notable information about the service

Keep the photos posted in your halls for a few weeks–not only does this beautifully honor those who have served, but it also is perfect to renew the feelings of gratitude that we seek to magnify throughout the Thanksgiving season.

#2: Poppies & Poetry

Poppies are a classic, but not all your students may be aware of their significance. Choose a way to share “In Flanders Fields” with your students, whether you simply read the text and background, watch a video, or show a picture book.  (Alternatively, share Cheryl Dyson’s poem for a piece suited for very young audiences).  Then, ask students to find meaningful ways they can express their understanding and appreciation for this poem:

#3: Letters to Soldiers

Have students write letters expressing gratitude to a soldier.  Mail these to soldiers at your closest military base or visit websites like Operation Gratitude.  Students could also share their pieces created in the above Poppies & Poetry activity.

#4: Introduce the Veteran’s History Project

The Battle of Đắk Tô was a series of major engagements of the Vietnam War that took place between November 3 to 22, 1967, in Kon Tum Province, in the Central Highlands of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam). At 09:43 on 19 November, the three companies (330 men) of 2/503 moved into jumpoff positions from which to assault Hill 875. Charlie and Delta companies moved up the slope followed by two platoons of Alpha Company in the classic "two up one back" formation utilized since World War I. The Weapons Platoon of Alpha remained behind at the bottom of the hill to cut out a landing zone. Instead of a frontal assault with massed troops, the unit would have been better served by advancing small teams to develop possible North Vietnamese positions and then calling in air and artillery support.  At 10:30, as the Americans moved to within 300 meters of the crest, PAVN machine gunners opened fire on the advancing paratroopers. Then B-40 rockets and 57mm recoilless rifle fire were unleashed upon them. The paratroopers attempted to continue the advance, but the North Vietnamese, well concealed in interconnected bunkers and trenches, opened fire with small arms and grenades. The American advance was halted and the men went to ground, finding whatever cover they could. At 14:30 PAVN troops hidden at the bottom of the hill launched a massed assault on Alpha Company. Unknown to the Americans, they had walked into a carefully prepared ambush by the 2nd Battalion of the 174th PAVN Regiment. The men of Alpha Company retreated up the slope, lest they be cut off from their comrades and annihilated. They were closely followed by the North Vietnamese. All that prevented the company-strength North Vietnamese onslaught from overrunning the entire battalion was the heroic efforts of American paratroopers who stood their ground and died to buy time for their comrades. Soon, U.S. air strikes and artillery fire were being called in, but they had little effect on the battle because of th
Robert Couse-Baker

This project was started by Congress in 2000, and is sponsored by AARP.  The goal is to “collect, preserve, and make accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war.”  As a class, you could:

  • Discuss the interview questions listed in the Field Kit, and practice interview skills in class.
  • Complete the VHP preparations as a class:
    • 15-minute Field Kit Companion Video
    • Search the collections database
    • Print forms
    • Register for the VHP RSS feed (and add to your class blog if you have one!)
  • Locate a veteran to interview (either a student’s family member or someone found in a local veterans service organization), then hold the interview in class if he or she can make it, or by phone.
  • While volunteer student interviewers must be 10th graders or older, younger students can participate in interviewing family members.  Additionally, donations are welcome, so your class could alternatively hold a fundraiser for the project!

#5: Favorite Videos

 

Photo Credit:

10 Earth Day Activities

Earth Day in 2014 will be on April 22nd. Whether you’re looking for ideas for your class or to personally make the world a greener place, check out our 10 activities here…


#10: Share Acts of Green

When you do anything for Earth Day, share your “Act of Green” to the earthday.org website to help reach them reach their goal of 2 billion Acts of Green (currently just over 1 billion)!

#9: Watch some videos

We’ve listed some inspiring Earth Day videos below:

#8: Take a clean-up nature walk

As a class or as an individual, this is a great way to take care of our earth in a simple and immediate way!

#7: Explore the outdoors to appreciate nature
Danilo Urbina
Danilo Urbina

Have class outside on Earth Day!  Also, be sure to look up events organized in your area for outdoor Earth Day celebrations.

#6: Take your Global Footprint quiz

Earthday.org provides this interactive Global Footprint quiz to help you explore ideas to change or improve your footprint.  Nature Conservancy also has a similar Carbon Footprint Calculator.

#5: Learn about composting

This Earthday.org link about composting provides detailed instructions as well as a pledge!

#4: Contact your local representative to take action

Various green legislation is currently being evaluated, such as Environmental Education.  This is an especially great option if your class has been studying government this year!

#3: Learn about various donation programs

If your administration approves, perhaps your class may choose to have a fundraiser to contribute to!  Even if a fundraiser isn’t an option, it’s still great for students to discuss and perhaps bring home ideas for action!

  • Adopt an Acre with the Nature Conservancy’s program to conserve coral reef, African grasslands, and more.  Donations start at $50
  • The Canopy Project with Earth Day Network to plant 10 million trees. Donations start at $35.
  • Species Adoptions from WWF. Donations start at $50, and you will receive a plush animal, bag, and picture in return!
  • Plant a Billion Trees Campaign with Nature Conservancy.  Donations start at $25.
#2: Send a nature Ecard

This is a great way to share the beauties of nature and to encourage its protection.  Plus, it’s free!

#1: Utilize social media

Pick your favorite social media platforms to spread the word on Earth Day!  Below are a few resources to try out!

*View additional Green Actions with accompanying lesson plans on earthday.org’s website here.  Happy Earth Day!

Photo Credit:

John (little time)

Danilo Urbina

Columbus Day Myths and Truths

Columbus Day was declared a federal holiday in the United States in 1934 by President Roosevelt after lobbying from a Catholic fraternal association called Knights of Columbus. Since then, many have questioned the appropriateness of celebrating Columbus by bringing some of his lesser-known actions to light. Let’s lay it out and look at the myths and truths surrounding Christopher Columbus and his legacy:

Continue reading “Columbus Day Myths and Truths”