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.


VOCABULARY ASSESSMENT FOR LISTS #1-6 ON TUESDAY 5/14 (Sections 1, 5, 7) OR WEDNESDAY 5/15 (Sections 2, 6). Study, study, study! You have only one shot at this. No reassessment will be available.

Edward Tulane cast and crew – you will take the assessment on the assigned day with the rest of your class. These are not the new lists; they are words from the beginning of the year up through WWII, so nothing new. Plan accordingly.

Then, we’re on to our last two vocabulary lists of the year:

For both of these lists, you will complete old-fashioned Word Maps by hand for each word. I will provide hard copies, but if you need more, you can find them here: Template for Word Maps.


Word Map Learning Targets:

  • Determine and clarify a word’s meaning, including its definition(s), part(s) of speech, synonyms, and antonyms.
  • Create an original sentence that shows I understand the word and can use it properly.
  • Create a visual representation of the word that shows its meaning in pictures.
  • Meet the expectations of the 8th grade Writing Specs.

The Use of the Atomic Bomb Formal Writing Assignment

Learning Targets:

  • I can categorize statements into groups that share a common topic or thread.
  • I can compose a main claim that encompasses an entire category.
  • I can support the main claim with sub-claims that fit into the category.
  • I can provide evidence and reasoning for my sub-claims.
  • I can meet the 8th grade Writing Specs, ESPECIALLY ACTIVE VOICE!
  • I can follow instructions and meet deadlines. (0 or 3 – you either do these things or not.)

It’s been called the most important single event of the 20th century, and the short-term and long-term impacts of the use of the atomic bomb have been debated since August of 1945. In class, we discussed and debated the use of atomic weapons as an end to the Pacific War in World War II. Now, look back at the claims presented. Make a decision – should the United States have used the atomic bomb in 1945?

Once you have decided “Yes” or “No,” write a main, overarching claim that summarizes why.

Then, support your main claim that summarizes why with three sub-claims that offer specific examples. All three examples should be related and should fit into the same category.

You know how Mr. Taft explains it — Yes because grapes. Green grapes. Purple grapes. Red grapes.

Turn your main claim, three sub-claims, evidence for three sub-claims, and reasoning for three sub-claims into one coherent paragraph. Use all of the notes you have taken on this topic. You may also want to use the outline provided.

Seek feedback from classmates. Help one another revise and proofread. Turn in what you consider a first-rate, polished, final draft. Turn in what you think is your best work. Reassessment will be available at my discretion, meaning I will decide who should reassess.

When you think your draft is as perfect as it can be, prepare it for submission on GoogleClassroom following instructions provided. Dr. Walczak will accept submissions via GoogleClassroom only up until the deadline. If your work is late, you must print and hand in the hard copy.

Please follow MLA guidelines for formatting your draft: 12 point Times New Roman, 1-inch margins, double-spaced.

Final Draft Instructions:

  1. Double-check formatting listed above.
  2. Use the 8th grade Writing Specs as a checklist. WRITE IN ACTIVE VOICE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.
  3. HIGHLIGHT your main claim in YELLOW.
  4. HIGHLIGHT your three sub-claims in GREEN. Make sure all three relate to and support your main claim!
  5. HIGHLIGHT any vocabulary words or other impressive word choices that you’re proud of in BLUE.

Click here for the GoogleDoc of this assignment sheet. It’s also available on GoogleClassroom.

Section 2 and Edward Tulane cast and crew – you may turn your work in by Wednesday 5/15, but you’ll need to print and turn in a hardcopy. I will not check GoogleClassroom after Monday 5/13.



Click here to review MLA formatting.

Click here to review the Writing Specs.

A new reading assignment!

From WWII On: Historical Fiction/Nonfiction

By popular demand! On the 4th Quarter Reading Reflections, many of you asked for another opportunity to choose your own novel to read. We can do that!

Learning Targets ~ I can…

  • Explore a specific genre or topic.
  • Make connections between and draw conclusions about fiction, history, and current events.
  • Identify and explain the overarching theme(s) of a text and point to where the theme appears throughout the course of the text.


Now that we’re in the last part of the school year, we will turn to more recent times in America’s story. Choose a historical fiction or nonfiction book that explores American stories from World War II on to the present. You have tremendous freedom to choose the time period, topic, or aspect of America’s story for this project. Choose what interests you, what you want to learn more about, what you want to read about.

Now that we’re in the last part of the school year, we will turn to more recent times in America’s story. Choose a historical fiction or nonfiction book that explores American stories from World War II on to the present. You have tremendous freedom to choose the time period, topic, or aspect of America’s story for this project. Choose what interests you, what you want to learn more about, what you want to read about.

For this reading assignment, you must read books that you have not read before. Rereading isn’t an option.  If you have any question about whether or not a book qualifies for this assignment, please ask Doc.

As you read the novel or nonfiction book, prepare for a final assignment that asks you to briefly summarize the book without giving too much away; identify important themes in the book; make connections to what we’ve been working on in both American Studies History and English; make connections to current events; and draw conclusions about the book and those connections.

If you read novels in verse or graphic novels, you must read at least two, depending on length. If they’re short, you must read three.

If you finish a book quickly, then I’d love to see you go above and beyond by reading more than one!

CHOOSE YOUR BOOK AND CREATE YOUR LOCKER POSTER BY THURSDAY 4/18! You can purchase books, check them out from Mrs. E. or your local library, or borrow books from Mr. Taft and me. Remember, hang a hard copy of your poster on your locker and submit it to GoogleClassroom.

First…Choose your book(s).

Second…Take down your current locker poster(s). Replace it with a new one! See the assignment sheet for your new poster here.

Third…Read your book(s), and we’ll take it from there!


GoogleDoc assignment sheets also available on GoogleClassroom.