Vietnam War Assessment

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In addition to a quiz, I assessed my honors US II class on the Vietnam War through a project about the legacy of the war.  They worked with a partner to create a memorial to the war in the form of a poster using images and quotes, as well as through a speech they presented to the class.  It was very interesting to see how young people perceived the Vietnam War in very different ways after we had been learning about it for several weeks.

Positives: It was a good way for students to be creative in different ways.  Some students put a great deal of effort into drawing beautiful, detailed pictures, while others dreamed up a three-dimensional, interactive statue that they planned out on paper.  No two projects were alike.

Negatives: Some students struggled conecting the facts they had learned about the war with its legacy.  They were able to say the war was good or bad, but not able to justify it using events that occurred during the war.

Here is the assignment sheet and rubric I gave students:


Vietnam War Assessment: What is the legacy of the Vietnam War?

The Vietnam War was one of the most divisive wars in American history and to this day remains controversial.  Your assessment for this unit will be to create, with a partner, your own memorial commemorating the war and a 1 ½ – 2 page statement expressing your viewpoint.  We will work on the assignment in class, but you may need to do some work on your own.  It will be due in class Thursday 4/30 and we will present them to the class.

For your statement, address all of the following questions.  You may think of this as a speech that might be read when your memorial opens to the public.

  • Why was the US in Vietnam?
  • How did the Vietnam War impact America at that time?
  • How and why should we remember the Vietnam War?
  • What lasting impact has the Vietnam War had in America

Your statement must also:

  • Use concrete examples to illustrate your points
  • Base all assertions on facts
  • Cite information from the texts, class notes, videos, etc.  E.g. (class notes), (Zinn, 445), or (Sir, No Sir!)
  • Be typed or neatly handwritten in pen on one side of the paper

The memorial will take the form of a large poster consisting mostly of images.  It may also contain quotes, poetry, or other primary sources.  It should NOT just summarize the main points of your written assignment.  For the memorial:

  • Use pictures (hand-drawn or computer generated) and quotes or poetry to convey the legacy of the Vietnam War to the viewers
  • Quotes and poetry must be attributed to the author, if it’s not your own words

This assignment will be worth 60 points.  Here is the grading rubric:

Outstanding Good Average
Historical Accuracy & Thoughtfulness -All facts are historically accurate-All assertions are based on fact

-Facts are used to draw thoughtful, unique conclusions

-All facts are historically accurate-All assertions are based on fact

-Facts are used to draw logical conclusions

-Most facts are historically accurate-Most assertions are based on fact

-Most conclusions are logical and based on fact

Creativity, Neatness & Effort -Memorial is neat and eye-catching-Shows outstanding time & effort -Memorial is neat and looks nice-Shows time and effort -Memorial is fairly neat-Shows some effort
Formatting & Care -No more than 1 typo, spelling or grammatical error per page-Statement is typed or neatly handwritten in pen

-All sources are cited

-Fewer than 3 typos, spelling or grammatical errors per page- Statement is typed or neatly handwritten in pen

-All sources are cited

-Fewer than 6 typos, spelling or grammatical errors per page- Statement is not neatly typed or handwritten in pen

-Most sources are cited

Here are some examples of student projects:

11th Grade Honors.  This project focused on the bravery of individuals, but the hopelessness of the war and the internal struggle of soldiers.

11th grade honors.  This project outlined an elaborate 3-D statue commemorating the war through a statue and decorative plantings.  They did a tremendous amount of research into the colors of different military decorations and the types of flowers available to incorporate into the floral patterns.

11th grade honors.  This project was one of the most positive portrayals of the war, using quotes and famous photographs to portray the joy of veterans returning home.

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5 Responses to “Vietnam War Assessment”

  1. Becca Says:

    For the last group – Do they know there wasn’t any welcome home for the soldiers and that the war wasn’t seen as a positive thing?

  2. Whitney Nielsen Says:

    Well I think it’s a pretty common misconception that there was a unified national consensus about the war. Looking at the media and news back then, there were people who both supported it and didn’t support it. There were also highly documented celebrations for soldiers. There was no party in Time Square like when WWII ended, but it wasn’t as if families and towns did not celebrate their boys coming home. I agree that they could have covered the subject in a more nuanced way, however.

  3. Becca Says:

    See, two people welcomed my dad home: his mom and his uncle, a WWII vet. The response from everyone else was chilly, if not downright cold … I get the feeling that this was the more common reaction to returning vets, even a medic whose job was to help other wounded soldiers and not specifically be on the front lines himself. I can totally see why the newspapers would publish the stories, though – who wants to go to war knowing he won’t be welcomed home?

    Is there a way to get any vets to speak to the class about these sorts of things? I know that my dad doesn’t talk much about specifics, but listening to him is very interesting.

  4. Whitney Nielsen Says:

    That always is interesting. Didn’t your dad and Erin Rea’s dad talk to us in middle school about the war? Am I making that up?

  5. Becca Says:

    Dad came in during 9th grade, I think. He had slides and he talked for a long time about it. I think it was easier for him to tell a whole classroom full of kids than to just tell me. I can’t remember if Erin’s dad did …

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