What Should We Tell Our Children About Vietnam?

Learning Targets ~ I can…

  • Comprehend, discuss, and explain responses to the question “What should we tell our children about Vietnam?”
  • Use the signposts to identify, analyze, and summarize the main ideas and important points of selected responses from Professor McCloud’s book.
  • Draw conclusions from the responses and answer the question “What should we tell our children about Vietnam?” for myself.

“What do you think are the most important things for today’s junior high school students to understand about the Vietnam War?” This is the question Professor Bill McCloud himself, a Vietnam veteran, asked himself back in the late 1980s when he was still teaching 8th grade American History.

For answers, McCloud sent handwritten letters directly to “people who directed, fought, protested, and reported the war: politicians, military officers, protesters, soldiers, POWs, nurses, refugees, scholars, writers, and parents of soldiers who died in the war.”

As you read the response, look for the Notice and Note Signposts listed below.

Signposts to notice and note in What Should We Tell Our Children About Vietnam?

Quoted Words: Quotes a voice of authority or cites another’s words. Why quote or cite this person? Who does Professor McCloud ask about what we should teach students about Vietnam? Why?

Word Gaps: Uses any words or allusions you don’t know. Look up any other words or phrases you do not know.

Absolute Language: Uses language that leaves no doubt or no room for argument. Why say it like this? Where does the responder make unmitigated claims or statements? Where is the responder offering up statements that s/he thinks should not or cannot be argued?

Words of the Wiser: Serious advice, a moral or ethical lesson or imperative. What’s the life lesson? Who must learn it and why? What Words of the Wiser does the responder offer? What is the responder telling us that we must learn and/or act upon? What is the life lesson that we as individuals or we as a country should learn about or from the Vietnam War?

Click here for more information about the Notice and Note signposts.

McCloud, Bill. What Should We Tell Our Children About Vietnam? Norman, OK: U of Oklahoma P, 1989. Print.

The Smell of the Light

Poetry by VietNam veteran Bill McCloud.

Explore The Smell of the Light, the collection of poems about VietNam by veteran Bill McCloud. Choose TWO poems that appeal to you or speak to you in some way – choose two poems you like.

Fill out this GoogleForm to let Doc know what two poems you choose by Thursday 5/30.

Then, become the expert on those two poems. Look up any allusions, military terms, history, and word gaps in the two poems. Be ready to explain them to your classmates. Be ready to demonstrate your expertise on the poems on Monday 6/3.

You can write in your book, take notes on paper, or use post-it notes!

Revisions of Formal Writing on Atomic Bomb


  1. Consult the assignment instructions and learning targets again.
  2. Make your changes.
  3. Highlight the main claim in yellow; highlight sub-claims in green; highlight vocabulary or other impressive word choices in blue.
  4. Double-check your MLA formatting.
  5. Print a hard copy.
  6. Annotate your revisions. In the margins next to the changes, write what you changed and how you changed it.
  7. Hand in hard copy to Doc by the deadline.


March Trilogy Lessons Learned

Learning Targets:

  • I can identify and explain “Words of the Wiser” or other lessons taught or learned in the March Trilogy.
  • I communicate my ideas clearly, creatively, and effectively in an original manner.
  • I can use current events and resources to describe and support my application of the lesson.

In your “My Lesson from the Civil Rights Movement” project, Mr. Taft quotes the great organization Teaching Tolerance: “students need to know that the movement was much bigger than its most notable leaders, and that millions of people mustered the courage to join the struggle, very often risking their lives in the process” (The Civil Rights Movement: Why Now?).

I hope that you learned from John Lewis and his March Trilogy. Your final project for this series of books is to identify what you see as the most important Words of the Wiser of the trilogy or the most important lessons the books teach. What did you learn from March Books One, Two, and Three?

Craft a creative display of your March Trilogy Lessons Learned. You can create a locker poster, sketchnotes, an annotated mural, a series of poems, a written statement, or anything you want to construct.

Include in your display:

  • Quotes from the books. Include who says the quote, which book it’s from, and what page number it appears on.
  • Your interpretation of the quote or what you take away from the quote.
  • How the quote applies to today – current events, the USM community, the Milwaukee community, the nation…

You have complete creative freedom. Focus on hitting the learning targets and following instructions for what to include.

Final Count!


So… how many books did you read this year? How many of us hit 30? How many of us read more this year than last year? Let’s also find out which English section read the most books — and which Advising read the most books!

Keep reading this summer! #USMReads

Fill out the Final Count GoogleForm here.

60-Second Book Talk

Learning Targets ~ I can…Give a brief compelling book talk that discusses the book without spoiling it.

On Monday 5/27, I will start randomly calling on students to give their 60-Second Book Talk. Be prepared to give it any day that week, either in English, History, or even at lunch!

Your goal is to pique your peers’ interest in the book you’re talking about. And you’ve got only 60 seconds to do so. So what will you say?

60-Second Book Talk:

  • an opening that ignites your audience’s curiosity and interest — a hook
  • vivid description that makes the setting, characters, and conflict come alive
  • an excited and engaging tone of voice that keeps audiences listening
  • a cliffhanger at the conclusion that leaves your audience wanting more and inspires them to read the book themselves
  • no spoilers!
  • the book itself or a large, clear, color image of the book cover

I’m literally going to time you! Practice, practice, practice your Book Talk until you can give it confidently and articulately in 60 seconds. Speak successfully with a clear voice, enthusiasm, and eye-contact.

You may have a single 3×5” notecard with bullet points to help you speak; however, really you should have the 60-Second Book Talk fully prepared and memorized. You shouldn’t really need notes.