Anti-Vietnam War Imagery: Visual Literacy

532px-Vietnam_War_protesters._1967._Wichita,_Kans_-_NARA_-_283627

My Social Studies Methods class at the University of Portland recently published a free multi-touch iBook – Exploring History: Vol III (free iTunes). It features thirteen engaging questions and historic documents that empower students to be the historian in the classroom. For more info on our project and free download of multi-touch iBook and pdf versions click here. To better publicize student work, I’m featuring each chapter in it’s own blog post. (Twelfth of 13)

Anti-Vietnam War Imagery by Felicia Teba
Download as PDF 1.7 MB

How can images/language usage help us understand the goals of a movement or group?

The Sixties were a tumultuous time period in America. The Civil Rights Movement was taking place, various student movements were blossoming, and the Vietnam War was coming into full swing. The War would especially create divisions about US Cold War policies, and our military presence in Vietnam. This would be a contentious issue raised by various Student movements and Counterculture groups. These groups would push for the end of the war, through images and protests. In this DBL, students will answer a series of questions regarding the counterculture movements. When using this DBL, students should have some knowledge about the anti-war movement.

Reflection by Felicia Teba

For the past three weeks, we have been working on designing our own Document Based Lessons (DBLs) to be published as a collaborative book. This experience was interesting . This was my first time working on a project like this. I found that the process was a bit long and required having good knowledge about the topic. This is why I chose to cover anti-Vietnam War images in my DBL. I know a lot about the anti-war movement and it was a topic I felt would be interesting for high school students to examine.

When working on designing this DBL, I had first thought that I wanted to cover ’60s pop culture in relation to the counterculture movement. I then had a difficult time finding sources that were not copyrighted or would have such problems arise. This moved me to find images related to the anti-war movement. I found many images, including the one featured above,  that related to looking at anti-war protests and what those who were against the war were arguing.

Once I had these images, I arranged them around an essential question: How can images/language usage help us understand the goals of a movement or group? I chose to base my DBL around this question because it helps students to build skills around historical thinking skill such as Sourcing and Close Reading. Each of the images in my DBL  features the essential question as a reminder of what to be thinking about, and each image includes 4 questions specific to the image. This helps the student to make deeper connections to the images and what they are conveying.

When creating this DBL, I found the experience to be interesting, and a little scary. It was interesting because I was able to get creative when designing the layout for my image set. I used various colored shapes to help my essential question and each additional question stand out. I also used a couple of widgets that allow students to magnify the image, and another that allows you to click the image and receive additional info about it, almost like a caption box. I feel like these additions helped to make my DBL feel less dull.

If I were to get the chance to, I would definitely like to do another project like this. It makes you think about what questions are worth asking, and what you want students to look at as historians.

Image credit: Vietnam War protesters. 1967. Wichita, Kans Wikipedia

Music and the Vietnam Anti-War Movement

photographs of nick dewolf photographs of nick dewolf

This concludes a series of guest posts from my preservice teachers at University of Portland. They had the task of using Learnist to design a document based question that would eventually become part of a class-produced DBQ iBook collection. DBQ assignment here. More samples of student-designed DBQs here.

I’ve asked them to reflect on the assignment and invited them to guest post on my blog. Here is The Vietnam War designed by Samuel TS Kelley. His DBQ explores the relationship between the civil rights movement and the Vietnam war as reflected in the music videos of the era.

You can find Samuel on Twitter and see his posts on our class blog.

See Samuel’s chapter in our class-designed iBook – free at iTunes.

Samuel TS Kelley reflects on what he learned from the experience:

Using a famous or popular document doesn’t really help the student to begin answering questions on their own. It is much more important to use a document that allows the student to be the historian and reach logical conclusions about the time period.

This DBQ does a good job of using the documents and songs to generate questions that the students can answer using only the given sources. Despite this, I had trouble coming up with overall questions about the unit. I kept refining the topic until I had a good theme to work with. I was already using some music as evidence, and I added a couple songs to make the music of the time central to the DBQ. This also changed the main idea of the DBQ, which shifted from a focus on the civil rights movement to the general anti-war movement (although civil rights were still very important to the DBQ).

Overall, I learned a lot from this assignment, especially about using documents that are most conducive to the student’s knowledge level. Using a famous or popular document doesn’t really help the student to begin answering questions on their own. It is much more important to use a document that allows the student to be the historian and reach logical conclusions about the time period. I am excited to continue to use DBQ’s to teach students to examine, analyze, and interpret the documents in ways that will engage their critical thinking skills, and let the students do the work of a historian when trying to establish facts and conclusions about the time period.

Image credit: Flickr / nick dewolf photo archive 
101970 07 04 ~ Boston Common,October 1970. 
Part of an archival project, featuring the photographs of Nick Dewolf

Media Manipulation: Vietnam War DBQ

peace rally 1970

I assigned my preservice teachers at University of Portland the task of using Learnist to design a document based question that would eventually become part of a class-produced DBQ iBook collection. DBQ assignment here. More samples of student-designed DBQs here.

I’ve asked them to reflect on the assignment and invited them to guest post on my blog. Here is Media and War: An Analysis of Vietnam War Propaganda designed by Damian Wierzbicki. It provides a selection of media from opposing perspectives and asks students to answer the following question: How does media impact our perception of war?

See Damian’s chapter in our class-designed iBook – free at iTunes.

You can find Damian’s posts on our class blog.

It provides a selection of media from opposing perspectives and asks students to answer the following question: How does media impact our perception of war?

Damian Wierzbicki reflects on what he learned from the experience:

The goal of my DBQ project was for students to gain an appreciation for how one’s perceptions of an event can be manipulated through media. The idea was for students to examine a variety of items, identify the techniques employed in conveying the message, and evaluate whether or not the techniques were effective. After investigating the media content within the lesson, students would apply what they learned by curating a series of media items that depict a certain perspective in a contemporary conflict.

Reading my original proposal for the project, I feel the final product achieves the goals I initially set forth. The lesson contains a variety of media types (print, posters, photos) and each example is accompanied by a set of questions that challenge students to do more than just identify what they see. I’m pleased with what I created because it approaches the study of history from a different perspective and medium. I can see this being more enjoyable than reading a history text or listening to lecture on a more traditional topic.

Though I am pleased with what I created, reservations do exist. This product has yet to be used. I don’t know how students or educators will react. Will they learn or appreciate the material I put forth? Will they find it engaging? It’s hard to say, especially since this was the first DBQ project I created. Teachers must always reflect and adapt. The project I created feels like a solid first step, but I want it to be used so I know how to make it better.

Once I decided upon a topic, the project was straightforward. However, I did run into one hurdle: curating the media. Selecting relevant pieces was challenging and time consuming. There is so much iconic media from the Vietnam era, but not all was applicable to my objective. Using the wrong piece could have lead to confusion and undermined what students were supposed to take away from the lesson.

Image Credit: LSU Public Relations, “Peace Rally,” 1970. LSU student Luana Henderson participated in a peaceful protest against the Vietnam War held in 1970 on the LSU campus. The poster behind her refers to the killing of four students by National Guardsmen during a protest that turned violent at Kent State University in Ohio. University Archives, Louisiana State University.