Monday, November 22, 2010

Rock After School: World War II

This winter I have the great opportunity to offer an after school class all about World War II. We only have eight Thursdays to learn about the largest-scale war ever fought. Over the course of the eight weeks, we will trace major developments of the war from its causes in fascist Germany and imperial Japan, to the invasion of Poland, the attack on Pearl Harbor, Stalingrad, and D-Day, and many other milestones. The hardest aspect of the course is to pack in as much as possible into just an hour a week.


Here is the course description as printed in the Rock After School catalog: 

Welcome to the RAS World War II class! 
Join us to learn about this dramatic, history-changing time period when much of the entire world was caught up in war. World War II will come alive for students as we view film clips, movies, newsreels, and read first-hand articles and accounts. We will watch classic movies based on the war such as Tora! Tora! Tora!, hear a first-hand account from a veteran, and examine the battle strategies of great generals like Patton and Rommel.  We will also examine the causes of the war, the Holocaust, different aspects of the European and Pacific theaters, major military and political leaders, weaponry, and of course, the effects of the war on the people of the nations involved. (Note to Parents: All material will be covered in an age-appropriate manner, and all materials will be prescreened before viewing by students.)


Each week, the class is structured around a PowerPoint which  outlines the broad themes we discuss, and links the various video clips, maps, and photos we see.

If anyone is interested in the topic of World War II and would like to check out the class PowerPoint slide shows, they are available on my website under the "Extracurricular" tab of the Student Area. The password for the WWII class summaries in "WW2."

So far the classes have been organized as follows:

Class 1: The End of WWI and the Causes of World War II
Class 2: The Axis Powers and the Blitzkrieg Invasion of Poland
Class 3: The "Phoney War" and the Invasion of France
Class 4: Weaponry and Propaganda
Class 5: Pearl Harbor and the beginning of American involvement in the War
Class 6: Epic Battles - Stalingrad and El Alamein
Class 7: The War in the Pacific, Plus Reading and Viewing Suggestions
Class 8: Beginning of the End - D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge

Class 9: Special Guest - A Veteran of the Pacific Theater
Class 10: The End of the War, the Holocaust, the A-Bomb


Also, for those who want to check out a great program about the war, the History Channel has been airing a vivid documentary called WWII in HD which uses real footage shot in color by first-hand observers in battle.

The ten episode series is also available on DVD and is one of the best documentaries about the war that I have ever seen. It follows the stories of several veterans, a nurse, and a war reporter to all of the major battle sights in Europe and Asia.

*One thing though: it can be graphic at times, so I'd recommend a parent preview the episodes for suitability for certain sixth graders.

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