Knowing that Veterans Day is approaching and that my students understand very little of the military in general, I prepared a series of lessons to build some background knowledge and develop empathy for military families who make sacrifices for us all.
This particular lesson begins with patriotic music playing as my students find a quick write on their desks. I give them time to complete their quick write before we begin discussing their answers. As I had anticipated, my students had very little background knowledge of the military.
We share what we have, but before we do, I have the students draw a line under their writing so they can add information from their classmates as they hear it.
Even though this is an ABC book, it isn't meant for little kids. I like it because it covers a wide variety of information about the military and military families. I like that it gives a lot of information in the side bars that we can use to fill in the background knowledge of my kiddos.
After sharing the quick write information, I show students the cover and tell them we're going to learn some new things about the military and these people that we call veterans. I explain to them the definition of veteran and explain how that is different than someone who is in the military right now. I tell them that the Veterans Day holiday is coming up and that I have planned some projects for us to honor Veterans.
While reading, I ask students to keep track of their favorite page or letter because they are going to do some research on their selected topic.
After reading the text- it takes a while- having to explain a lot of vocabulary and concepts, I ask one simple question- what is your definition of honor?
Many hands go up- mostly having to do with honesty. We talk and give examples until each student can define honor for themselves and give examples in their lives of times when they've been honorable.
I say to them, the author seems to think that being in the military is honorable. I discuss the importance of understanding an author's attitude and viewpoint on a subject because it colors how the story is told and we're going to take a minute to think about Devin Scillian's thoughts about honor. At this point, I don't want to give too much away so I hand out the exit ticket for the students to answer using the text to provide the evidence.
After I collect the exit tickets, I assign homework. The students are to go home and ask their parents if anyone in their family has been in the military and which branch they were in. The homework looks the same as the Smartboard slide they will see tomorrow.