Using WWII flags as Primary Sources in the Classroom
The 2014-2015 school year will be starting soon and many history teachers across the country will be introducing students to the concept of primary and secondary sources. Along with oral histories, diaries, art and photographs, flags can also be primary sources with stories to tell. This year, why not incorporate some historic flags from The National WWII Museum’s collection into your classroom with two new lesson plans for middle and high school?
The Stars and Stripes Focus On artifact feature contains two Museum lessons that introduce students to the idea of the American flag as a powerful symbol that can provide us with a window on the past. The first lesson plan, The Stories that Flags Can Tell Us, is designed for Grades 6 – 8. Students become “flag detectives” to uncover clues about three WWII flag stories, using observation and historical analysis.
The second lesson plan, The Stories that a Painting Can Tell You, is designed for Grades 9 – 12 and uses a contemporary artwork about an African American veteran to explore themes about race, military service, and patriotism. By studying the painting and researching both the experiences of African Americans during WWII and the life of the painter, New Orleans artist Willie Birch, students discover a more nuanced connection between history, art, memory, and identity.
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