Studying current events such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to this Edutopia article, fulfills several common core state standards. These include expressing ideas clearly and persuasively and participating in conversations with diverse points of view.
Students will learn, in this brief video, how the celebration of Memorial Day (formerly known as Decoration Day) began shortly after the end of the Civil War. Your students might not know that, for many years, southern states did not celebrate Memorial Day, because they believed it only celebrated the deaths of Union soldiers. This would work well as a quick introduction to a Memorial Day lesson.
In the editorial, O'Connor and Glenn express their alarm and disappointment that American students are "failing at Civics and history." They believe that Civics should be taught as an integral part of reading and other core subjects. O'Connor introduces iCivics, a new educational site offering a high-tech, fun civics education for students.
This site provides lesson plans and resources for teaching about the war in Iraq. The lessons and information are designed to accompany a documentary film about the war. Because some of the footage is harsh and realistic, this film would probably be best for high school students, rather than younger students.
What a great idea for a truly meaningful educational experience on Memorial Day for your middle school or high school students. Through Operation Gratitude, students can write encouraging letters of thanks and appreciation to soldiers currently serving in the military. Follow the link on the page to read explicit instructions for teachers.
This very moving short video tells the story of Joe, a sailor who lost his leg in Iraq and Benji, his service dog. Benji has improved Joe's life in so many ways and has become a treasured companion and member of his family. This video will bring the reality of Memorial Day and sacrifice home to your students.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow/Between the crosses, row on row. This site explains the history of the Memorial Day poppy and its beginnings in World War I. The text of "In Flanders Fields" is also printed. This would be a great history lesson for middle or high schoolers on Memorial Day.
As the title suggests, the activity provides a list of poems about war from poets W. H. Auden, Yehuda Amichai, Pablo Neruda, Stephen Crane, Homer, and others from around the world. This would be best for high school students.
Combining math and history, this lesson requires students to create various kinds of graphs on an online graphing site with data from another site listing the number of American soldiers killed in war (through 2012). The grade level listed for this activity is 3-12.