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Monday, November 9, 2015

Veterans Day, 2015:

On this Veterans Day we are reminded of, and honor, all of the brave men and women who have served among the ranks of our nation's military.  For many of the students we teach, Veterans Day is just another day that is celebrated in school with little meaning to them.  It's not their fault though.  Most of them are too young to understand the significance of the day or they haven't had anyone they've known serve in the military where they've had to worry about their well-being.  


Veterans Day is more than just honoring those who have served whether they are still alive or have passed on.  It is about what those men and women were willing to put on the line besides their own lives.  I'm talking about the lives of their families too.  Many families have had to deal with loss, living with PTSD of their family member who has returned from battle, or having to learn how to care for the person that ha
s normally cared for them due to injuries sustained on the field of battle.  


This Veterans Day on November 11th is just the day on the calendar that reminds us to pay our respects to those who have served.  The other 364 days we can do the same as well.  When you see a soldier in line at the gas station tell the clerk you're paying for the soldier's coffee too.  Pick up the tab of a soldier at a restaurant.  Or simply go up to a veteran and say, "Thank you." 


 

If you are looking for a way to celebrate Veterans Day with your students here's a neat activity to do in your class.  After your students create them have them write a little thank you note and send these off to your local American Legion, VFW, or military training station in your state.  A small gesture goes a long way.  




Happy Veterans Day!


Monday, November 2, 2015

Gentleman's Warfare vs. Guerrilla Warfare

Here's a fun idea when teaching about the Revolutionary War.  Students are always baffled when they learn that Gentleman's Warfare, which was the primary style of combat by the British, involved each side lining up across from each other and taking turns shooting. Unlike guerrilla warfare that is used nowadays that involves "hide-and-seek" tactics.  

I remind students that they see gentleman's warfare style of combat every Sunday when they watch football.  When the Green Bay Packers take the field, they line up in straight lines across from the opposing team, and only move on command.  It's fair, there are rules, and both sides abide by them and punish those who break the rules. Besides, how fair would it be if Aaron Rodgers was hiding in the crowd wearing a trench coat, a hat, fake glasses, and a fake mustache, and threw the ball to his receivers from the stands when they were open?

To simulate gentleman's warfare vs. guerrilla warfare I decided to buy 15 sets of checkers from the Dollar Tree (which is a store in Wisconsin where everything literally is one dollar).  
I have students pair up and set up the game letting them know that the classic game of checkers is set up like gentleman's style warfare - straight lines across from each other and taking turns.  I have the red team be the British (Redcoats) and the black team be the Patriots.  I have them flip a checker (heads/tails) to decide who goes first because no one really knows who fired the "shot heard 'round the world" at the Battles of Lexington and Concord to start the fighting.  

After a few minutes go by, I stop everyone and say, "The British were way better at gentleman's warfare than the Patriots because they had been fighting this way for many, many years.  The militia was made up of many first-time soldiers who were farmers, and carpenters, and masons, and cobblers, before the fighting started.  To win this war, the Americans had to find a different way to fight - so they went with guerrilla warfare.  Now, after three moves by the black team, who are the patriots, you can take any red checker off the board.  This was done by your snipers who are hiding in the bushes and can't be seen. The game ends when one side has taken all of the other team's checkers."

The red team is, of course, frustrated by this tactic and find it to be unfair.  Which is the point of the activity!  They especially don't like it when a sniper takes a king - which was totally against the rules in gentleman's warfare - killing the one's with more power (or in command) was frowned upon because if the commander is gone, no one can lead the men and it would be chaotic and very ungentleman-like.  

I'd love to hear how this activity went for you and your students!