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:

6 books to read in your 20s

Now that we know why we should read, we have our next question: What should we read? Below is a list of 6 books to help cement life skills and take a 20-something-year-old on a few adventures to boot:

Franny and ZooeyThe Book:

Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger

The Lesson:

The book is two short stories. The “Franny” side shows how Franny Glass changes throughout her college education. It’s easy to connect to her character, as we’ve all probably experienced similar feelings.

The “Zooey” side tells the answers to Franny’s questions and is the “disaffected” young man that most 20-somethings experience at some point during our education.

the Language of FlowersThe Book:

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Lesson:

Anyone can grow into something beautiful. This book follows an orphan child who has nothing, but her penchant for flowers. As she struggles to overcome her past, she is able to help others with the gifts she has.

OutliersThe Book:

Outliers by Malcom Gladwell

The Lesson:

Change the way you think about success and chasing your dreams. A non-fiction approach that leaves you inspired to go and grab your future.

Dandelion WineThe Book:

Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

The Lesson:

Don’t forget to savor your youth while your fighting to be an independent adult. The book is nostalgic and reminiscent of childhood, even if you didn’t share the same experiences. Told as a children’s story for adults.

The Unlikely PilgrimageThe Book:

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

The Lesson:

It focuses on the value of friendship, humility, self-forgiveness and human kindness over the span of lifelong commitments.

All my friends are Super heroesThe Book:

All My Friends Are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman

The Lesson:

A brief book on a non-traditional love story that will maybe not teach any profound lessons, but is a joy to read!

If you read or have read any of these books, feel free to share your comments down below!

Featured Image: Ginny


Top 8 iOS/Android Apps for Students

Easily one of the most difficult things to get used to in school is getting organized. The top ten apps for productivity and general usefulness are listed below, available for both iOS and Android. Click the images for the app store!

iplanneriPlanner is an app made to help organize all your scheduling and assignments in one area. It’s available on iOS. The Android equivalent would be myHomework, a great app that has the same basic features and ideas.
AlgeoAlgeo is the perfect graphing calculator app, available at the Play Store for Android. Apple phones also have a good free graphing calculator app. This is much easier and better than taking around a bulky calculator.

WikipediaBetter than Google, finding articles with sources for every paper or presentation right at your fingertips. The photo link is to the Apple Store. Here is the link to the Android store version.

Google DriveA perfect place for keeping all your documents in one place. Also, if you are using anything but Gmail for your emailing, you are behind the times and missing out on a great userface. Simple, easy to use, and aesthetically pleasing. The link is to the Android. Click here for the Apple Store.

FlashThis is the premier flashcard app that makes studying easy and convenient no matter where you are. Click here for the Android version.

Mint appThe one-stop banking app that keeps all your finances in one place, helps you to set budgets and tracks your saving progress. A must-have for anyone who has multiple banking accounts or loans. Click here for Apple version.

EvernoteEvernote is the perfect app for keeping track of basically anything you want to remember. You can also search with keywords and find everything you’ve ever written from anywhere. The Android version is here.

duolingoDuoLingo helps you learn a language on the go! It’s perfect for practicing the language you’re taking for your Bachelors in Arts, or for helping to expand your cultural knowledge by learning on your own. You can never know too much! Bonne chance! (iOS version here)

Honorable Mentions:

TED talks (iOS / Android), great to listen to while you eat lunch to keep you involved in the innovations and top minds of today.

Al Jazeera (iOS / Android), one of the least biased news sites. Stream the audio while you drive, or watch first thing in the morning. Perfect for knowing what’s going on in the world and staying up-to-date with current events.

Featured Image: Matt Cornock