Classroom Activity: D-Day (Commentary)

Classroom Activity: D-Day (Commentary)



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This commentary is based on the classroom activity: D-Day

Q1. Read Sources A and B. How do these authors disagree about the motivations of Winston Churchill at in Teheran in November 1943? Can you give any reasons for this disagreement?

A1: Nikita Khrushchev (Source A) later explained the thinking of Joseph Stalin in 1943: "Churchill certainly played an important role in the war. He understood the threat hanging over England, and that's why he did everything he could to direct the Germans against the Soviet Union - in order to pull the Soviet Union into war against Germany. It's difficult to judge what the intentions of the Allies were toward the end of the war. I wouldn't exclude the possibility that they desired to put a still greater burden on the shoulders on the Soviet Union and to bleed us even more. They wanted to take advantage of the results of the war and impose their will not only on their enemy, Germany, but on their ally, the USSR, as well." Stalin feared that Churchill was postponing the invasion of France because he wanted Nazi Germany to destroy communism in the Soviet Union.

William Leahy, chief of staff to the commander in chief of the United States, took part in the discussions in Teheran. He explained the thoughts of Winston Churchill in his autobiography, I Was There (1950): "There was much grumbling about the British and considerable criticism of Churchill the Prime Minister was convinced that England was not ready to undertake such a major effort, and I did not think that we were either. I personally was interested in the safety or the United States. A cross-Channel operation could have failed and we still would have been safe, but England would have been lost. I think that is what Churchill had in mind. He wanted to have much more assurance of success than General Marshall could give him. Marshall's country would have been safe, but England was sitting twenty miles across the Channel, right under the Nazi guns. England could not afford to be defeated in an invasion attempt. Churchill, in his responsibility for preserving the integrity of England, had to be satisfied in his own mind that the expedition could succeed. I cannot blame him for that."

Q2: Read Sources C and D. Why would historians be interested in reading the private letters of politicians when writing about D-Day?

A2: These letters reveal the inner-most thoughts of politicians making difficult decisions. Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt were both aware that some civilians in occupied countries like France were very bitter about the impact of this bombing on their lives. This included the deaths of family and friends.

Q3: What does Source F tell us about Allied military strategy during Operation Overlord? Select another source from this unit to show the success of this strategy.

A3: Charles Messenger explains in his book that it was very important to catch the Germans by surprise when they landed their forces in Normandy. Major Friedrich Hayn (Source G) shows that even when the reports came in of Allied landings, they were not convinced that it was a "storming of fortress Europe".

Q4: Read Sources J and L. Explain the different problems faced by paratroopers and the infantry on D-Day.

A4: Guy Remington (Source J) makes it clear that a paratrooper is an easy target for soldiers on the ground. "I was caught in a machine-gun cross-fire as I approached the ground. It seemed impossible that they could miss me. One of the guns, hidden in a building, was firing at my parachute, which was already badly torn; the other aimed at my body."

Sergeant Thomas Valence (Source L) landed at Omaha. He points out that soldiers leaving the boats to wade through the sea were very easy targets. This is the main reason why Adolf Hitler abandoned plans to invade Britain in 1940. Valence explains that he could not move very fast as he was "in water about knee high" and carrying heavy equipment. "I worked my way up onto the beach, and staggered up against a wall, and collapsed there. The bodies of the other guys washed ashore, and I was one live body amongst many of my friends who were dead and, in many cases, blown to pieces."

Q5: Look at Source O. What is the American soldier doing?

A5: The American soldier is attempting to find out where the sniper is standing.

Q6: Study sources E, H, K, M, O and Q. Explain which of these photographs would have been published in British newspapers during the days following the D-Day landings?

A6: British newspapers tended to publish what they considered were "positive" photographs. They never showed dead Allied soldiers or images such as coffins and graves. Therefore sources such as H and Q would not have appeared in newspapers during the war.

Q7: Compare the emotions expressed by the women in sources N and P.

A7: The woman encountered by James Bramwell Byrom (Source N) was clearly greatly relieved to find a British soldier in Normandy: "The tears streamed down her face, and in between kisses she was shouting for her husband, for lamps, for wine. In a moment, I was carried by the torrent of welcome into the warm, candle-lit kitchen. Bottles of cognac and Calvados appeared on the table, children came clattering down the wooden stairs, and we found ourselves - an evil-looking group of camouflaged cut-throats - surrounded and overwhelmed by the pent-up emotions of four years."

Anne Frank (Source P) was in hiding in the Netherlands during D-Day. She wrote in her diary: "Would the long-awaited liberation that has been talked of so much but which still seems too wonderful, too much like a fairy-tale, ever come true? Could we be granted victory this year, 1944? We don't know yet, but hope is revived within us; it gives us fresh courage, and makes us strong again." Two months later Anne's family were betrayed to the Gestapo and they were arrested and deported to German occupied Poland. After spending a month in the extermination camp in Auschwitz, Anne was sent to Belsen, a concentration camp in Germany. Anne Frank died of typhus in March, 1945.


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On June 6, 1944, Allied forces comprising of American, British, Canadian, and French troops invaded the German-controlled coast of Normandy, France. It was also known as D-Day, one of the deadliest European battles of WWII.

See the fact file below for more information on the D-Day or alternatively, you can download our 20-page D-Day worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.


Classroom Activity: D-Day (Commentary) - History

On June 6, 1944, Allied troops from Canada, the United States and Great Britain, landed on the Normandy coast of France. Adolph Hitler and the German army had captured much of Europe. The purpose of the invasion of the Allies was to drive the Germans back and free the occupied countries from the Germans. France was the largest of the occupied countries. The attack was a win for the Allies. The start of any military campaign is called D-Day, but in history, it has come to refer to the invasion of Normandy in June 1944.

Winston Churchill was the leader of Great Britain, Charles de Gaulle was the leader of France, Franklin Roosevelt was the leader of the United States and MacKenzie King was the leader of Canada at the time of the invasion. The entire operation was called Operation Overload.

This operation required months of planning. Thousands of troops set up bases throughout the southern part of Great Britain and trained for the operation. Boats of all kinds, big and small, were offered by the people of Britain to help. The Germans knew that the forces were being gathered in Great Britain, but they did not know where the Allies would land. The Allies tried to trick the Germans by having them believe that they would attack north of Normandy at Pas de Calais in France.

United States General Dwight Eisenhower was the commander of the attack. The weather was very bad so he almost canceled the mission. Although they decided to go ahead, the Germans thought they wouldn't come due to the weather so were not well prepared.

First, paratroopers jumped out of Allied planes behind enemy lines to try to destroy important sites of the Germans. Dummies were also landed to deceive the Germans. Next thousands of bombs were dropped on German airfields, factories, and bridges. At the same time, the French Underground (French people who worked secretly to conquer or harm the Germans in any way possible) cut telephone lines and blew up bridges.

The Allies wanted a full moon for the landing. Because of that, General Eisenhower decided to go ahead with the attack despite bad weather because there were so few days in the month which would work. The Allies knew that the Germans had hidden large objects in the harbors so they wanted to arrive at high tide to try to avoid these objects which would damage the boats. The landings at Normandy were called 'Operation Neptune.' Neptune was the Roman god of the sea. It was the largest amphibious attack in military history. 'Amphibious' means 'from sea to land.'

Finally, 6000 ships carrying men, machinery, weapons and equipment, crossed the English Channel from the southern part of Great Britain to the northern coast of France and landed on the coast of Normandy. The Germans attacked the landing troops with much machine gun fire. American troops landed on Utah and Omaha beaches. The attack on Utah beach was successful, but many men died at Omaha Beach. The Americans, however, could conquer the beach. By the end of the day, 150,000 troops had landed, with the first going on ahead to make room for those following. They started to push the Germans out of France.

4,144 Allied soldiers died on D-Day, with thousands more wounded. When the battle was over, by the end of August 1944, 425,000 members of the Allied and German forces were dead. The victory at Normandy was the turning point of World War II. That means that the victory turned toward the Allied troops. 2 million Allied troops were too much for the half a million Germans.


Photo Gallery

But by day’s end, 155,000 Allied troops𠄺mericans, British and Canadians–had successfully stormed Normandy’s beaches and were then able to push inland. Within three months, the northern part of France would be freed and the invasion force would be preparing to enter Germany, where they would meet up with Soviet forces moving in from the east.

Before the Allied assault, Hitler’s armies had been in control of most of mainland Europe and the Allies knew that a successful invasion of the continent was central to winning the war. Hitler knew this too, and was expecting an assault on northwestern Europe in the spring of 1944. He hoped to repel the Allies from the coast with a strong counterattack that would delay future invasion attempts, giving him time to throw the majority of his forces into defeating the Soviet Union in the east. Once that was accomplished, he believed an all-out victory would soon be his.

For their part, the Germans suffered from confusion in the ranks and the absence of celebrated commander Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, who was away on leave. At first, Hitler, believing that the invasion was a feint designed to distract the Germans from a coming attack north of the Seine River, refused to release nearby divisions to join the counterattack and reinforcements had to be called from further afield, causing delays.

He also hesitated in calling for armored divisions to help in the defense. In addition, the Germans were hampered by effective Allied air support, which took out many key bridges and forced the Germans to take long detours, as well as efficient Allied naval support, which helped protect advancing Allied troops.

Though D-Day did not go off exactly as planned, as later claimed by British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery𠄿or example, the Allies were able to land only fractions of the supplies and vehicles they had intended in France–the invasion was a decided success. By the end of June, the Allies had 850,000 men and 150,000 vehicles in Normandy and were poised to continue their march across Europe.

The heroism and bravery displayed by troops from the Allied countries on D-Day has served as inspiration for several films, most famously The Longest Day (1962) and Saving Private Ryan (1998). It was also depicted in the HBO series Band of Brothers (2001).


Guiding Question:

Overview:

These lessons are designed to help students understand events in World War II using non-textual sources (photographs, film, interactive websites, and apps). Students will analyze photographs of selected World War II events and subjects. Through photograph analysis, students will make observations, draw inferences, create questions, and participate in group discussions to develop and expand their knowledge of selected Word War II events and topics. These lessons are designed to provide students with learning disabilities and limited English language proficiency with alternative learning opportunities.

Activity

Historical Context

D-Day, June 6, 1944, is the day that Allied forces initiated the invasion of Normandy. Operation Overlord was the largest amphibious assault ever planned and executed. D-Day took over one year to plan, involved a surprisingly effective deception plan, included over 5,000 ships, 11,000 airplanes, and more than 150,000 troops. Operation Overlord was a major turning point in World War II on the European front. By the end of August 1944, Paris had been liberated and the Germans no longer occupied northwestern France.

While D-Day saw the Allied forces triumph, the beaches were not won without great human cost. Many of the service members who landed on the beaches of Normandy during the first hours of the invasion were met with an endless barrage of German machine gunfire. The bravery and extraordinary determination of those service members is both amazing and inspiring. However, with bravery and extraordinary determination also comes horrific injury and death. By the time the sun set on June 6, 1944, it is estimated there were over 10,000 Allied casualties.

Civilian war correspondents as well as military photographers captured many historic images in the campaign for Northern Europe. Often their subjects were ordinary soldiers - men like Sergeant Harry Blankenship, killed in the battle for Cherbourg, who rests in Normandy American Cemetery.

Objectives

  • At the conclusion of this lesson, students will be able to
  • Analyze photographs by identifying details in the photographs
  • Generate initial observations, inferences, and questions from photographs and background information known about the photograph’s subject
  • Construct final observations, inferences, and questions of photographs after World War II content information is delivered and
  • Compare and contrast initial inferences with final inferences through group discussions.

Standards Connections

Connections to Common Core
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.7.1.c Pose questions that elicit elaboration and respond to others' questions and comments with relevant observations and ideas that bring the discussion back on topic as needed.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.7.1.d Acknowledge new information expressed by others and, when warranted, modify their own views.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1.d Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarize points of agreement and disagreement, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views and understanding and make new connections in light of the evidence and reasoning presented.

Connections to C3 Framework
D2.His.3.6-8. Use questions generated about individuals and groups to analyze why they, and the developments they shaped, are seen as historically significant.
D2.His.3.9-12. Use questions generated about individuals and groups to assess how the significance of their actions changes over time and is shaped by the historical context.
D2.His.5.6-8. Explain how and why perspectives of people have changed over time.
D2.His.5.9-12. Analyze how historical contexts shaped and continue to shape people’s perspectives.

Materials

Lesson Preparation

  • Preview video and film resources to determine which one(s) you want to use.
  • Secure access to technology (computers, laptops, iPads) so that each group or individual student has access.
  • Set students into groups of three to six students each.
  • Print two copies of the Photograph Analysis Worksheet for each student.
  • Print one copy of the Compare and Contrast Graphic Organizer per student.
  • Print one photograph series for each group. You can use the same series for every group in the class or give each group a different series. For lower level students, you can choose one or two photos from a series instead of an entire series.
  • Print one copy of the Photograph Analysis Rubric per group.
  • Cue or share links to pre-selected videos with students.
  • Download smartphone applications to a phone or tablet for student use.

Resources that Connect to D-Day Buildup Photograph Collection






  • Normandy American Cemetery Smartphone Application Apple,Android



  • Pointe du Hoc Smartphone Application Apple, Android

Resources that Connect to D-Day Beach Landings Photograph Collection







  • Normandy American Cemetery Smartphone Application Apple,Android



  • Pointe du Hoc Smartphone Application Apple, Android

Resources that Connect to D-Day to Berlin Photograph Collection

Resources that Connect to Home Front Photograph Collection



  • Normandy American Cemetery Smartphone Application Apple,Android

  • Pointe du Hoc Smartphone Application Apple, Android

Resources that Connect to U.S. Service Members Photograph Collection




  • Normandy American Cemetery Smartphone Application Apple,Android

  • Pointe du Hoc Smartphone Application Apple, Android

Resources that Connect to The Price of Freedom Photograph Collection




  • Normandy American Cemetery Smartphone Application Apple,Android

  • Pointe du Hoc Smartphone Application Apple, Android

Procedure

Activity One: Introduction and Photograph Analysis (60 minutes)

  • Assign and have students move into groups of three to six students each.
  • Distribute one Photograph Analysis Worksheet to each student.
  • Introduce the concept of photograph analysis to students. Share the following quotes about photographs to get students thinking:
    • “A photograph is usually looked at – seldom looked into.” —Ansel Adams
    • “A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know.” —Diane Arbus
    • “The camera cannot lie, but it can be an accessory to untruth.” —Harold Evans
    • “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” —Henry David Thoreau
    • Photographs can be cropped, meaning certain items can be edited out of the picture after it has been taken. Images can also be enlarged or reduced in size and lightened or darkened.
    • Photographs can be choreographed or arranged. The photographer can manipulate people to do what he or she wants them to do.
    • The photographer’s purpose for taking a picture can affect a photograph. Photographers make choices than can mirror their perspective or point of view. Therefore a picture is not a random representation of an event, but rather the act of a photographer taking a picture of something that he or she wants to use.
    • What is the first thing you notice about the picture?
    • Do you have any prior knowledge of what is happening in the picture?
    • What is happening in the picture?
    • What is/are the subject(s) in the picture thinking? Is/are the subject(s) happy, angry, tired, dirty?
    • What is/are the person/people wearing?
    • Where was the picture taken? What in the picture helps you figure out where the picture was taken?
    • Are there any buildings or landmarks in the picture that help?
    • When was the picture taken? Day? Night? What season? Winter? Summer?
    • What was the weather like in the picture? Raining? Cloudy? Sunny? Clear?
    • What do you think happened before the picture was taken?
    • What do you think happened after the picture was taken?
    • Why was the picture taken?
    • Who do you think the photographer took the picture for (intended audience)?
    • What was the photographer trying to say with the picture?
    • What can you learn from the picture?
    • Think about the viewing point that the photographer chose. Why do you think the photographer took the picture from behind his subject or from a high or low point?
    • Think about what is not shown in the picture. It is impossible for a picture to capture all elements of an event. What elements of this event do you think are missing?
    • Did the person or people in the photograph know that they were being photographed?
    • Teacher Tip: If students seem to be struggling with their analysis, stop the activity and model the analysis of a photo using the think-aloud strategy. For example, using the first photograph in the U.S. Service Member Photo Series (Chow is served to American Infantrymen on their way to La Roche, Belgium, 347th Infantry Regiment). Project the photograph or hand out a copy to each student and begin doing your analysis.
    • Ask yourself a few of questions and answer them yourself. What is the first thing that I notice about this photo? The first thing I notice about the photo is that it is winter and very cold. Do I have any prior knowledge about this photo? I know that the men in this photo are most likely American service members fighting in World War II. What is happening in this photo? Soldiers are lined up getting something to eat.
    • After asking and answering the first few questions aloud with yourself, start bringing the students into the analysis. Ask the questions and have students answer them. Make sure that you go through this modeling activity, you are filling in the Photograph Analysis Worksheet with both yours and student responses. For example, what is the weather like in the photo? Possible answers from students might be that it looks like the photo was taken during the winter, it looks very cold, there is snow on the ground.
    • Encourage them to expand on their answers. Why does it look very cold? What in the picture makes you think that it was very cold when the picture was taken? It looks cold because the soldiers have scarves around their heads and necks. It has to be cold for the snow not to melt. What do you think the soldiers are thinking? Do they look happy, sad, tired? They look cold and tired and hungry. What makes you say that? No one is smiling in the picture. The third soldier in line looks worried. Why do you think the photographer took this photo? Did he take it to show people back home that even in the cold, soldiers are getting fed well? Make sure to refocus student responses if they start to get off track.
    • Additionally, ask the students what questions the photograph leaves unanswered. What additional information would they like to have about this photo? Can they make any inferences with what they can see in the photo and what they know about World War II? Fold the photograph into quadrants and ask questions about each quadrant. Does folding it change what you see? Continue this activity until you feel that students are ready to work on their own.

    Activity Two: Share Photograph Analysis, View Videos, Introduce Multimedia Resources (60 minutes)

    • Assemble students into assigned groups and share and discuss photo analyses within each group. Encourage students to express their ideas clearly, pose questions to other students’ analysis, modify their original ideas when presented with new information or reasoning, and respect the ideas and analysis of others.
    • Show preselected World War II videos. Refer to the chart in the lesson preparation section for a listing of which videos apply to each Photograph Collection.
    • Introduce ABMC interactive websites and smartphone apps. Allow students time to explore and interact with the apps. Depending on the level of your students, this activity can always carry over into the next day.
      • Teacher Tip: If time permits and your students are engaged, exploring these apps can easily encompass an entire class period. Possible drawback for lower level students is that the interaction with these apps relies somewhat heavily on reading skills and does use some vocabulary that might be above some students’ level. However, the apps do have some great features for lower level students like timelines with pictures and short texts.

      Activity Three: View Websites and Apps, Students’ Second Analysis of Photographs (60 minutes)


      Download your free digital copy!

      World War II will never cease to be relevant, and sadly, with everything that’s been going on in the world in recent years it’s scarily easy to draw parallels between then and now.

      But, of course, that’s no reason to shy away from it. If anything, it means the opposite. It’s an important topic, but it’s just as important to deliver lessons sensitively and age-appropriately to your class.

      With Victory in Europe Day taking place on 8 May, and D-Day on 6 June, these are great opportunities to not only understand the past (and, in turn, the present) but to see the hope and goodness that can eventually emerge from such dark times.

      So, we’ve picked out a selection of resources to help your pupils do just that.

      1 | D-Day Landings in Normandy

      The D-Day landings were a key factor in the outcome of the war, splitting the German forces that were mostly in conflict with the Russians in Eastern Europe. For an introductory overview this piece from Imperial War Museums is a great place to start.

      But if you want to delve deeper into this topic, The British Legion has an excellent facts and figures PDF on D-Day that can be easily adapted to suit your lessons, as well as veteran’s stories and more.

      You’ll find them all here.

      2 | VE Day

      You can also rely on the British Legion for Victory in Europe Day too. There’s an information for schools PDF and more on its VE Day page.

      The BBC’s archived Learning Zone page on the end of the war has loads of ideas and activities too.

      And if you still need more, head to the Guardian’s How to Teach…VE Day page for a whole bunch of resource links.

      3 | The steps to war

      This differentiated card sort exercise lets students identify and connect the steps that led from the armistice to the start of the Second World War.

      4 | The Holocaust

      Bev Forrest recently wrote a great article for us in Teach Primary on why it’s essential we educate primary children about the Holocaust, which discusses how much young children need to know to create a better foundation of learning for studying the topic further in secondary school.

      Click here to read the article, where you’ll also find Bev’s selection of recommended resources at the end. And check out the wealth of classroom materials at the Centre for Holocaust Education.

      5 | Belsen concentration camp

      What did the British find when they entered Belsen concentration camp? Belsen (full name Bergen-Belsen) was set up in 1943. It was never used as a death-camp, but was still a place of unbelievable horrors and brutality.

      Towards the end of the war, thousands of Jews had been evacuated from camps in eastern Europe and marched west to avoid the advancing Soviet army. There were 40,000 prisoners at Belsen in April 1945, many dying each day, as well as thousands who had recently died and had not been buried.

      The outside world knew of the camps even before the war, but took little notice of reports of what they were like. Thus when Allied soldiers began to advance into Germany at the end of the war and discovered the camps, they were deeply shocked by the conditions. These documents record what the British soldiers found, and how they responded.

      6 | Holocaust Memorial Day

      Created for Holocaust Memorial Day in January each year, these resources can still be used at any time to learn about the atrocities committed in WWII.

      The Holocaust Memorial Trust has an assembly, lesson plan on discrimination and tutor-time activities that are all free to download.

      7 | Anne Frank

      The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank has long been the go-to text for educating young people about what life was like for those living in hiding from the Nazi regime.

      Anne Frank Trust UK and Amnesty International produced a set of resources to go with this famous account, called Writing in Impossible Circumstances.

      If you want to take things further, this webpage from Imperial War Museums, called ‘The Way We Lived: Exploring Jewish Life and Culture’, has a number of helpful videos.

      There’s a powerpoint, lesson plan, resource sheets, teacher’s notes and curriculum links, all of which you can find here.

      8 | Propaganda

      This set of WWII posters from the Imperial War Museum come with a PowerPoint presentation full of discussion points and suggested activities. They’re perfect for a lesson on persuasive language and imagery, as well as being a great insight into what it was like in Britain during wartime.

      You can find these resources here.

      9 | London in the Blitz

      This KS3 resource features a varied collection of activities to accommodate different learning styles, centred around the experience of the Blitz, how London was affected and how historians have interpreted it.

      10 | Suggested reads

      If you’re looking for a book to introduce WWII to your class we’ve picked out and reviewed eight of them for you to consider.


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      TEN TERRIFIC WAYS TO TEACH THE FIVE SENSES

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      The five senses lend themselves to science activities that require students to make observations with their eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin. That isn't all, though! Ten great activities will have your students investigating with and thinking about their senses.

      What's in the box? Making sound boxes is a fun experiment that requires students to concentrate on their sense of hearing. All you need for this simple activity is a variety of small objects and empty boxes, cans, or other containers. Place one or more like objects (for example, pennies, marbles, rice, paper clips. ) inside the container without showing your students, and ask them to identify the objects inside by their sound as you move the container. To simplify the experiment or to have your students work with each other in pairs, give the students identical sets of objects. They may then take turns placing an object inside the container for a partner, and the partner may examine the objects while listening to guess which one might be inside. The Sense Testing Game Craft, from About.com, has a few brief ideas for using this concept with the senses of hearing and smell.

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      Original instruments. Playing instruments they make is one of the most creative and unique ways your students can experiment with the sense of hearing. Have kids organize "bands" and design their own musical instruments. They should prepare songs to share with other class members. Will they have guitars, drums, or kazoos? Your students may choose, as long as they make the instruments themselves. For inspiration, send the class to the Virtual Museum of Music Inventions. You might even consider sending pictures of the students' instruments to this online museum for display.

      Fun with your eyes. VSP® Vision Care offers some eye fun plus an activity guide. To access the activity guide, go to VSP Teacher's Lounge and scroll down to the Eyecare Discovery Activity Guide. The activities in this 57-page activity booklet are created by the folks at the Exploratorium. Activities fall under four headings: Eye Innards, Seeing Stuff, Looking Through Lenses, and Fooling Your Eyes & Brain. Note: The booklet, in PDF format, might take a few moments to upload.

      Braille. Blind people use the system of dots called Braille to communicate, and your students are sure to find an investigation of it enlightening. The International Braille Research Center explains how blind people use Braille. The History of Reading Codes for the Blind shares the background of this system. For an explanation of the system itself, see The Six Magic Dots of Braille. When you finish reading these online materials, invite your students to design their own communication system for blind people. How would they make it work? How would it differ from Braille?


      Classroom Behavior Contract

      During the first days of school, teacher Mary Gambrel involves her students in creating their classroom rules. The rule-making process begins when Gambrel poses four questions to her students at Travis Middle School in Amarillo, Texas:

      • How do you want me to treat you?
      • How do you want to treat on another?
      • How do you think I want to be treated?
      • How should we treat one another when there's a conflict?

      Students' share their thoughts about those questions in small groups, and then with the entire class. Responses are posted on a large sheet of chart paper. As an idea is repeated, a checkmark or star is placed beside it.

      1. In the presence of others, sing not to yourself with a humming noise, nor drum with your fingers or feet.

      2. When you sit down, keep your feet firm on the ground and even, without putting one foot on the other or crossing them.

      3. Shift not yourself in the sight of others, nor gnaw your nails.

      4. Kill no vermin such as fleas, lice, ticks, etc., in the sight of others.

      5. Read no letters, books, or papers in company. When there is a necessity for doing so, you must ask leave.

      6. Let your countenance be pleasant, but in serious matters somewhat grave.

      7. Every action done in company ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are present.

      8. Do not laugh too loud or too much at any public spectacle lest you cause yourself to be laughed at.

      9. If anyone comes to speak to you while you are sitting, stand up although he be your inferior.

      "With each suggestion, I usually ask the student to tell me what the rule 'looks like,'" Gambrel added. "If they say 'be nice,' they have to tell what that means. It's a great way to see what they're thinking."

      The rule-making activity takes place over parts of several days. Each day the rules are refined. Gambrel then types up the rules so students can discuss them. "The students decide if there are items that need to be added or deleted," Gambrel explained. "Could some of the items be combined? Do any need rephrasing?" Students also take home their lists, review them, and think about additional ways in which the rules might be fine-tuned.

      "After we're finished, I have all my students sign the 'poster' as a commitment to follow the class rules," said Gambrel. "Then I take it to the local copy center and have it reduced to notebook size. I make enough copies for everyone. Students keep their copies in their notebooks."

      The original poster is displayed in the classroom. "When I feel they are slipping, I remind them of the 'contract' we all signed -- the rules they came up with and agreed to," Gambrel told Education World. "We review the rules before and after a long weekend or extended break and when someone new joins the class. During each review, I ask if any items need to be removed or added."

      Many of the rules relate to respect, which is a key word in Gambrel's classroom. Respect plays out in many ways, including paying attention, turning in assignments, and being prepared.

      Gambrel says she has done this activity for a couple of years and she has few discipline problems in her classroom. "I think this activity works because we end up with the same rules I want, but they are the ones who made the rules," she said. "This works much better than me posting my rules without input from them."

      One other rule Gambrel shares with her students -- this rule comes from the Capturing Kids' Heart program too -- is what she calls the 100 Percent Rule. "I tell them everyone is not always able to give 100 percent every day. Sometimes they might come to class with a cold and all they can give is 80 percent. When they are in my class, I explain, "If all you have to give is 80 percent, I want 100 percent of what you've got.' If any problems arise, all I usually have to do is ask a student who is having a hard day 'Are you giving me 100 percent?' and their behavior quickly changes."


      Additional Background Information

      During World War II, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill jointly planned strategies for the cooperation and eventual success of the Allied armed forces.

      Roosevelt and Churchill agreed early in the war that Germany must be stopped first if success was to be attained in the Pacific. They were repeatedly urged by Stalin to open a "second front" that would alleviate the enormous pressure that Germany's military was exerting on Russia. Large amounts of Soviet territory had been seized by the Germans, and the Soviet population had suffered terrible casualties from the relentless drive towards Moscow. Roosevelt and Churchill promised to invade Europe, but they could not deliver on their promise until many hurdles were overcome.

      Almost immediately after France had fallen to the Nazis in 1940, the Allies had planned an assault across the English Channel on the German occupying forces. Initially, though, the United States had far too few soldiers in England for the Allies to mount a successful cross-channel operation.

      So in July 1942, Churchill and Roosevelt decided on the goal of occupying North Africa as a springboard to a European invasion from the south. Invading Europe from more than one point would also make it harder for Hitler to resupply and reinforce his divisions. In November, American and British forces under the command of U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower landed at three ports in French Morocco and Algeria. This surprise seizure of Casablanca, Oran, and Algiers came less than a week after the decisive British victory at El Alamein. The stage was set for the expulsion of the Germans from Tunisia in May 1943, the Allied invasion of Sicily and Italy later that summer, and the main assault on France the following year.

      At the Quebec Conference in August 1943, Churchill and Roosevelt reaffirmed their plan for a cross-channel assault into occupied France, which was code-named Overlord. Although Churchill acceded begrudgingly to the operation, historians note that the British still harbored persistent doubts about whether Overlord would succeed.

      The decision to mount the invasion was cemented at the Tehran Conference held in November and December 1943. Joseph Stalin, on his first trip outside the Soviet Union since 1912, pressed Roosevelt and Churchill for details about the plan, particularly the identity of the Supreme Commander of Overlord. Churchill and Roosevelt told Stalin that the invasion "would be possible" by August 1, 1944, but that no decision had yet been made to name a Supreme Commander. To this latter point, Stalin pointedly rejoined, "Then nothing will come of these operations. Who carries the moral and technical responsibility for this operation?" Churchill and Roosevelt acknowledged the need to name the commander without further delay.

      General Eisenhower was named Supreme Allied Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force shortly after the conference ended. When in February 1944 he was ordered to invade the continent, planning for Overlord had been under way for about a year. By May 1944, hundreds of thousands of Allied troops from the United States, Great Britain, France, Canada, and other nations were amassed in southern England and intensively trained for the complicated amphibious action against Normandy. While awaiting deployment orders, they prepared for the assault by practicing with live ammunition.

      In addition to the troops, supplies, ships, and planes were also gathered and stockpiled. The largest armada in history, made up of more than 4,000 American, British, and Canadian ships, lay in wait. More than 1,200 planes stood ready to deliver seasoned airborne troops behind enemy lines, to counter German ground resistance as best they could, and to dominate the skies over the impending battle theater. Countless details about weather, topography, and the German forces in France had to be learned before Overlord could be launched in 1944.

      Against a tense backdrop of uncertain weather forecasts, disagreements in strategy, and related timing dilemmas predicated on the need for optimal tidal conditions, Eisenhower decided before dawn on June 5 to proceed with Operation Overlord. But his uncertainty about success in the face of a highly-defended and well-prepared enemy led him to consider what would happen if the invasion of Normandy failed. If the Allies did not secure a strong foothold on D-Day, they would be ordered into a full retreat. Later that day, he scribbled a note intended for release, accepting responsibility for the decision to launch the invasion and full blame, should Overlord fail.

      However, Eisenhower's determination that the invasion of Normandy would bring a quick end to the war is obvious in his "order of the day," a message printed and given to the 175,000-member expeditionary force on the eve of the invasion. He had spent weeks carefully drafting the order, which would be distributed to all of the soldiers, sailors and airmen who were to participate. In it, he stated his "full confidence in [their] courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle."

      Gen. Eisenhower went to visit Allied troops just before they set off to participate in the assault of occupied France on D-Day. He left his headquarters in Portsmouth, England, and first visited the British 50th Infantry Division and then the U.S. 101st Airborne at Newbury the latter was predicted to suffer 80 percent casualties. After traveling 90 minutes through the ceaseless flow of troop carriers and trucks, his party arrived unannounced to avoid disrupting the embarkation in progress. The stars on the running board of his automobile had been covered, but the troops recognized "Ike," and word quickly spread of his presence. According to his grandson David Eisenhower, who wrote about the occasion in Eisenhower: At War 1943-1945, the general

      At half past midnight, as Eisenhower returned to his headquarters at Portsmouth, the first C-47s were arriving at their drop zones, commencing the start of "The Longest Day." During the invasion's initial hours, Eisenhower lacked adequate information about its progress. After the broadcast of his communiqué to the French people announcing their liberation, SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force) switchboards were overwhelmed with messages from citizens and political officials. SHAEF communications personnel fell 12 hours behind in transcribing radio traffic. In addition, an Army decoding machine broke down.

      According to his secretary-chauffeur Kay Summersby, as recounted in David Eisenhower’s book, "Eisenhower spent most of the day in his trailer drinking endless cups of coffee, 'waiting for the reports to come.' Few did, and so Eisenhower gained only sketchy details for most of the day about the British beaches, UTAH and the crisis at OMAHA, where for several hours the fate of the invasion hung in the balance."

      During the early hours of the D-day Normandy invasion, Eisenhower had sent a message to his superior, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George C. Marshall, in Washington, DC. The statement reflects his lack of information about how well the landings were going, even though they were well under way at that moment. Eisenhower reported that preliminary reports were all "satisfactory." At that time, he had received no official information that the "leading ground troops are actually ashore." The incomplete and unofficial reports, however, were encouraging.

      Eisenhower's comments concerning the weather speak to the one crucial factor of the invasion over which he held no control. Meteorologists were challenged to accurately predict a highly unstable and severe weather pattern. As he indicated in the message to Marshall, "The weather yesterday which was [the] original date selected was impossible all along the target coast." Eisenhower therefore was forced to make his decision to proceed with a June 6 invasion in the predawn blackness of June 5, while horizontal sheets of rain and gale force winds shuddered through the tent camp. The forecast that the storm would abate proved accurate, as he noted in his message.

      Eisenhower's pride and confidence in the battle-tempered men he had met the preceding night—men he was about to send into combat—is also evident in his message. He closed on a confident note, describing the steely readiness of the men he sent to battle, recalling the resoluteness in their faces that he termed "the light of battle. in their eyes." This vivid and stirring memory doubtless heartened him throughout the day until conclusive word reached him that the massive campaign had indeed succeeded.

      When the attack began, Allied troops confronted formidable obstacles. Germany had thousands of soldiers dug into bunkers – defended by artillery, mines, tangled barbed wire, machine guns, and other hazards to prevent landing craft from coming ashore.

      The cost of military and civilian lives lost on D-Day was high. Allied casualties have been estimated at 10,000 killed, wounded, or missing – over 6,000 of those Americans. But by the end of the day, 155,000 Allied troops were ashore and in control of 80 square miles of the French coast. D-Day was a military success, opening Europe to the Allies and a German surrender less than a year later.

      This text was adapted from an article written by David Traill, a teacher at South Fork High School in Stuart, FL, and the article:

      Schamel, Wynell B. and Richard A. Blondo. "D-day Message from General Eisenhower to General Marshall." Social Education 58, 4 (April/May 1994): 230-232.


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