In an effort to make study of a dark time brighter, middle school English teacher Gabi Fudge has developed several enlightening projects for her seventh grade unit on World War II.
Students were asked to select one of 20 different items and present the connection between the item and World War II. Some of the options for their mini projects included Silly Putty, ration cakes, Anderson Shelter, Barrage Balloon models and air and origami paper cranes, the most popular choice, Fudge said. Students showcased their work in the classroom, explaining the historical significance of the pieces during that time.
Fudge also planned a cross-curricular English and Physics activity that helped students better understand how difficult it was for World War II pilots to reduce collateral damage without much modern technology. Students were well versed in this challenge through their study of “The Diary of Anne Frank” and the city of Amsterdam. To illustrate pilots’ difficulties, students worked together as “squadrons” to drop Skittles into cups in a stationary position, a “slow flight” walking position and a “full throttle” running placement. In another activity, students split up into “platoons” to learn about the challenges of ground-to-air combat. They launched rubber baseballs at helium balloons from a distance of 20 feet – both lying down and standing. Students recorded and assed their data for accuracy and difficulty following each activity.
There is more ahead on Fudge’s learning front. She is planning a radio adventure program to help students get a better feel for the style of entertainment popular in the 1930s and 1940s. Working in small groups, students will write their own scripts and record their own version of an audio-only radio program popular in that time. They also may replicate famous radio programs like “The Lone Ranger,” “Dick Tracy” or “Little Orphan Annie” – the more altered voices and sound effects the better.
In coming weeks, students also will begin their propaganda projects – imitating World War II propaganda posters but “flipping the script of the message to promote the virtues of today’s time – tolerance, inclusion and equity – instead of simply studying the fear-mongering ones of the 1940s,” Fudge said.