Tag Archives: WW2

Trapped in WW2: Inspiration from EDrenaline Rush

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This weekend I read through John Meehan‘s book EDrenaline Rush (Dave Burgess Publishing, 2020) and took copious notes. I have seen John’s classroom materials on Twitter and we have conversed in different gamification twitter chats. Whether it is his Fortnite Battle Royale or Great Gatsby Break In, Meehan has great energy that he ignites in his high school classrooms. The world is our inspiration and Meehan has taken inspiration from Disney World, Spartan Races, Escape Rooms to engage his students in deep learning and active learner centered classrooms.

This year was the first year that I participated in a Disney Marathon and spending the weekend in Disney with 20,000 other people for the marathon weekend I was immersed in the magical powers of Disney.  An avid marathoner himself, Meehan begins his book deconstructing the architecture of Disney’s Magic Kingdom based on his own experiences doing the Disney Marathons with his family. He breaks down not only the culture that Disney creates but the experiences that fuel each storyline in the different parks and rides. Meehan calls for classroom teachers to use Disney as a model to build and sustain a positive and engaging culture with students.

The book also covers Escape Rooms, races, and scavenger hunts as a means for learning experiences because learning is an experience that is fueled by curiosity. The book is filled with many games and lessons that provide students with exciting learning adventures that spark their sense of wonder. Based on my reading, I created a playlist for our WW2 independent reading unit to provide background knowledge. The format what something that “Miss Ryan” shared on Twitter two weeks ago and now I cannot find her tweet or Twitter account where she posted her own Progressive Era Playlist, but the design was inspired by her. Her playlist offered an audio link to hear the teacher go over the work. I love the audio or visual support for learners. I also added an audio button that links to a screen cast providing further directions and explanation about the playlist assignments.

WW Playlist Week 1

I know that this is reading heavy for week one and the readings come from Actively Learn. I might switch out a reading or two for an Edpuzzle video or web quest. The first activity is a Google Form and anticipation guide that asks students whether they agree or disagree with the following statements:

I would help someone I saw in trouble, no matter the danger.

Prejudice leads to violence.

Apathy is a critical issue in our society. *Apathy means to not care.

Everyone should always conform to the laws of society.

The bystander has an obligation to help a person in distress.

Violation of human rights in another country is none of our business.

The bystander who does not intervene is as guilty at the perpetrator.

For the final assignment for the week I have included a Hexagonal Thinking Map, adapted from EDrenaline Rush as a “show what you know” activity. The hexagonal thinking map is a collaborative discussion activity for making connections between concepts and visually presenting those connections to represent the big ideas of a topic. Students  have a set of hexagons, each with a term dealing with World War II and the Holocaust. The challenge is to link the terms to present an organized and annotated representation of the this time period.

With your hexagons, students will need to …

Categorize – As you make links with all of your hexagons, you should categorize them by color. Make sure to make a key on the graphic organizer to show the different categories. 

Synthesize – You’re going to take each of the hexagons and see how they combine to create your understanding of WW2. Each hexagon should touch at least one side of another, and you should be able to annotate their relationship – cause-and-effect, turning points, change in continuity, testimony.

Summarize – Using your categories, develop a succinct and complete definition of your understanding of World War 2 and the Holocaust. Your definition should be one or two complex sentences.

Evaluate – Did America do too little in WW2? Did they do just enough? Were they too slow in responding to Hitler? Did they go too far dropping the atomic bomb? Consider the actions of the perpetrators, bystanders, allies and pass judgment in some form or another. This could be ranking individual actions, summation statements, or anything else you develop.

I edited a Google Drawing Hexagonal Thinking Map from Ditch that Textbook so that all my students could annotate their own thinking and understanding from the readings this week. 

WW2 Hexagonal Thinking Map

A third assignment I am providing during the WW2 unit is the #Hashtag Hunt inspired by John Meehan. The teacher provides themed hashtags for students to look for during reading. For example, when students begin reading their independent reading books about WW2 and the Holocaust I want them to make note of the following hashtags and go on a text hunt – find places in the text and direct quotes that support these themes and ideas. Here are a few of the hashtags I have created:

#NaziLies – Examples of Nazi propaganda and laws utilized to maintain power

#WW2Destruction – Examples of destruction caused by actions of WW2

#Allies – Examples of actions from allies who helped protagonist

#Resistance – Examples of acts of resistance from the protagonists

#Dehumanization – Examples where the protagonist is reduced to an object and no longer considered human or worthy of human dignity

#Liberation – Any example where the protagonists are brought out of their situation and able to live freely again

If you are into games and gamification to fuel an active learner centered classroom, you are going to want to read Edrenaline Rush. I know that you will be inspired by John’s stories, games, and activities that engage students and inspire them to be innovative, critical thinkers.

 

 

 

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The History and Fiction of Hunters on Amazon Prime

My family and I have been watching the Amazon Prime series Hunters. In fact, the series is drawn a lot of conversations and debates not only around our dinner table but across the nation. The ten episodes of season one follow a group of Nazi Hunters based in Brooklyn, New York during 1977. This Quentin Tarantino-esque, hodge-podge collection of revenge seeking hunters pursue Nazis brought to the US after WWII while also thwarting the establishment of a fourth reich. Creator David Weil and producer Jordan Peele have said the series is inspired by true events.

Where the show has taken many liberties to fictionalize elements of history in the 1970s, there are some key aspects of the series that are grounded in truth. In a recent article about Hunters in Esquire Magazine stated, “Some people said that it was basically fine as all TV and film modifies reality to some extent.” This is a worthy discussion in our classrooms when teaching history and historical fiction.  The Auschwitz Memorial felt that some of the fictional accounts presented in the series were demeaning to survivors and disrespectful of history. When we read or see historical fictionalized account how does it shape our understanding of the past? Does it perpetuate revisionist history? If so, how do we combat that?

With education.

Were there Nazi’s who escaped Germany after World War II? Yes, many fled to South America. Most notorious was Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi SS lieutenant colonel who masterminded the transport of European Jews to concentration camps who was hiding out in Argentina until the Israeli Mossad captured him and brought him back to Israel for trial in 1961.

And there were Nazis who also made their way to the United States. In November 2010 The New York Times reported, “A secret history of the United States government’s Nazi-hunting operation concludes that American intelligence officials created a “safe haven” in the United States for Nazis and their collaborators after World War II, and it details decades of clashes, often hidden, with other nations over war criminals here and abroad.” As World War II ended and the Cold War between the USA and the Soviet Union began, both countries seize German scientists for technology advancements, as spies, and science. The first episode of The Hunters refers to the Nazi scientists working at NASA. A Newsweek article states, “About 1,600 Nazi-linked scientists were believed to have actively worked in America during the Cold War. ”

Referred to Operation Paperclip in real life and in the show, The CIA states on its website, “Henry Wallace, former vice president and secretary of commerce, believed the scientists’ ideas could launch new civilian industries and produce jobs. Indeed, German scientists developed synthetic rubber (used in automobile tires), non-running hosiery, the ear thermometer, electromagnetic tape, and miniaturized electrical components, to name a few.”

German rocket scientist, Wernher von Braun, spearheaded the development of Saturn V, the spacecraft that allowed the Apollo 11 astronauts to land on the moon, according to PBS.  “During the Ford administration, von Braun was almost awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom—until one of Ford’s senior advisors, David Gergen, objected to his Nazi past.”

The Hunters includes the 19 year old protagonist, Jonah (played by Percy Jackson actor), Logan Lerman, driven to find the person who murdered his grandmother, a Holocaust survivor. Jonah’s grandmother raised him and his grief and desire for vengeance lead  down a dangerous path that gets him mixed up with Al Pacino’s character and his gang of Nazi Hunters, who are dedicated to exacting bloody revenge on the war criminals.

Jonah and his grandmother were inspired by David Weil’s own relationship he had with his grandmother, a survivor of the concentration camps. Weil explains, “When I was little, my grandmother, ever the hero, realized that her story was a weapon, a see, and—with a sense of duty—she needed to tell it. At the time, her stories felt like the stuff of comic books and superheroes. Grand battles between good and evil. And that’s become the lens through which I saw the world. A world of heroes and villains, colored by injustice and darkness, but a world where light and hope were possible.”

Are there really Nazi Hunters similar to the ones we see in Hunters? Yes, but not revenge hungry-take matters into their own hands like on the show. The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organization, was set up in 1977 (the same year Hunters). As its website states, “The Simon Wiesenthal Center is a global human rights organization researching the Holocaust and hate in a historic and contemporary context. The Center confronts anti-Semitism, hate and terrorism, promotes human rights and dignity, stands with Israel, defends the safety of Jews worldwide, and teaches the lessons of the Holocaust for future generations.”

Here is a Hyperdoc created to help students learn, explore, and research more about the realities and fictions presented in this series

 

 

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Field Trip: WW2 Museum in New Orleans

My grandfather was a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division Parachute Infantry. The airborne divisions – two American and one British – dropped behind the landing beaches in the hours before dawn of D-Day. Over 20,000 men – the largest airborne force ever assembled – entered Normandy by glider and parachute. The 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions landed behind Utah Beach. The overall mission of the airborne divisions was to disrupt and and confuse the Germans so as to prevent a concentrated counterattack against the seaborne troops coming in at dawn, and to protect the flanks of the invasion force at Sword and Utah beaches.

Crashing into farm fields in fragile gliders, or descending in parachutes amid antiaircraft fire, the airborne troops suffered heavy casualties. My grandfather was shot in the hip on decent by parachute. In the darkness and confusion of the pre-dawn hours, many units became scattered and disorganized. Some men who landed in flooded areas drowned. Despite these difficulties, groups of soldiers managed to form up and attack the enemy.

Visiting the WW2 Museum in New Orleans I learned more about my grandfather’s role during the War. He never spoke to his children or grandchildren about his experiences during the war. I have pictures from his travels in Europe during the war and from his basic training but I only have bits and pieces of his story.

The WW2 museum is a campus with five buildings – an additional building currently under construction – filled with artifacts and oral histories about this war. Every room is filled with multimedia (print text, visual text, and video) “taking visitors inside the story of the war that changed the world.” The mission of the museum is to”tell the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world—why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today—so that all generations will understand the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn.”

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The museum boasts collections that  include more than 250,000 artifacts and over 9,000 personal accounts supporting major exhibits and research. When you enter the museum you receive a dog tag with one individual’s story that you follow along throughout the museum at interactive stations. This personalized experiences allows users to collect artifacts, look at photographs, and read or hear the oral history of this person. I am able to log into Dogtagexperience.org after my visit to read more and study artifacts connected with his story.

The vast amount of oral histories throughout the museum “not only highlight the role of world leaders, but also the everyday men and women who found the strength and courage to accomplish the extraordinary.” The museum covers Japanese Internment, Racism in the military, the road to Tokyo, the road to Berlin, the D-Day invasion of Normandy, and more. There were rooms that showcased the arsenal of the military used to fight and win the war. The Manhattan Project was presented as part of the “The Arsenal of Democracy” exhibit.

The resources the museum provides for educators includes distance learning, school visits, and educator resources. Two opportunities are worth exploring if you cover WW2 in your classroom.

Operation Footlocker allows teachers to rent a locker of WW2 artifacts. This unique hands-on opportunity allows teachers and students to explore the history and lessons of World War II by analyzing WWII artifacts. These traveling trunks are designed to supplement WWII education in the classroom.

Each footlocker comes loaded with about 15 actual artifacts from World War II (not reproductions!). Of course, no weapons or ammunition are included. But there are ration books, V-mail letters, dog tags, sand from the beaches of Normandy and Iwo Jima, wartime magazines, a high school yearbook from the early 1940s, and many other artifacts, both commonplace and surprising. Footlockers come complete with white cotton gloves for handling the artifacts and a teacher’s manual that describes each object and contains directions for conducting artifact “reading” sessions. The cost of the locker rental is $75 for a weekly rental.

The Summer Teacher Institute offers an intensive weeklong seminar at The National WWII Museum in New Orleans and a weeklong excursion to a World War II-related destination. Each year’s institute focuses on a different aspect of the war, employing a rich array of curriculum tools and primary sources to help bring the war to life in the classroom. The 2019 Summer Teacher Institute focuses on liberation and the legacy of the war, connecting events like the Holocaust, the Nuremberg trials, the Marshall Plan, and the founding of the United Nations to the world of today and in the summer of 2020 these teachers are going to Munich to continue their studies. Note, there is no cost for the Summer Institutes. Participants will receive free lodging, a travel stipend, seminar materials, and most meals free of charge.

Additionally, there are lesson plans and artifacts that teachers can utilize for their classroom. This museum is a treasure trove for all in person and online. It has helped me to reflect on what I have covered in my WW2 unit of study and additional materials I want to bring to the forefront. I am also thinking about ways to bring the Dog Tag Experience into the classroom to connect students to the personalized stories of the war and deepen their understanding of this period in history.

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