Thursday, November 13, 2014

Veterans Day

As the daughter of a Vietnam Veteran, I hold a special place in my heart for veterans of all generations. When I was 17, I traveled to the Vietnam Memorial Wall. I stood in awe of two things; how massive the black granite wall stood, and how very small the names were. My dad still has a strong bond and current relationship with the band of brothers he served with during that time. Recently, I decided to create a project centered around this day.
My dad comes every year to share our family military history. The top right picture is kids who stayed in at recess to ask him more questions. The bottom right picture is my dad sharing the black powder horn that my great, great, grandfather used in the civil war.

The academic part of the project included students researching the history behind this day. Did you know the rest of the world calls Veterans Day, Remembrance Day? Did you know that it was first called Armistice Day to recognize the end of WWI? Did you know that for a while it was celebrated during the 4th Monday in October? How about that Veterans Day has no apostrophe, what?? (yeah that was new to me) These were all things my third graders found out during their research.
How we start the project
This research was compiled into an Explain Everything. This is an iPad app that creates power point type presentations. The neat thing is you can add your voice to the slides. So they become narrated slide shows.

Next, we researched our family military history. This included interviewing living relatives or researching stories about deceased relatives. Students learned about the people in their lives that gave up so much to build this country. If possible we invite guest speakers in to share with the class about their experience. This year we had 5 guest speakers!

One parent shared with me that she didn't realize that they didn't talk about what their relatives had done. Her child was so proud to find out that she had four veterans in her family. Students bring in pictures, uniforms, medals, and other artifacts. These along with their interview forms allow students to create "stand in" interviews. Students are interviewed "standing in" for their relative. They share the the details they learned about their lives. These interviews are video taped using an iPad.

Finally, students turn investigative reporters and interview living veterans who attend our school veterans appreciation breakfast. Most veterans are more than willing to share their experience. In fact, I think they feel honored that we are even interested. This year we interviewed approximately 30 veterans.

All of this culminates into an iMovie that includes their Explain Everything, their stand in interviews if applicable, and their live interviews.

Putting the pieces together in their iMovie. They need quiet space to record or listen so we end up all over the building. It's a little like herding cats!

My goals for this project are always for my students to be able to research information, summarize the important facts by taking notes, and share their information in a way that conveys their message. However, with this project there is a much deeper goal in mind...for students to better understand what it means to put on the uniform of this country. The sacrifice that the solider and the family they leave behind make. Ultimately to gain a better appreciation for those who have served and those who are serving.

Our poppy art infusion. We used these to decorate for the Veterans Day breakfast.

What kind of special things do you do to honor our Veterans? I'd love to hear about them, comment below.