This lesson introduces students to the American Indian code talkers from Oklahoma who heroically defended the United States in both World Wars. By viewing a documentary, playing a matching game, reading an article, and analyzing an excerpt from a graphic novel, they will also learn the stories of some individual code talkers from the Comanche, Pawnee, Choctaw, Seminole, and other tribal nations.
Who were the code talkers from Oklahoma? What were their contributions? Why is it important for us to acknowledge their contributions?
Students watch a video of D-Day that features a reenacted conversation between two code talkers.
Students play a matching game to learn about the codes created and used by Choctaw and Comanche soldiers.
Students read an article and complete a Stop and Jot activity as a guide.
Students use an It’s OPTIC-al graphic organizer to guide them as they analyze an excerpt from a graphic novel about code talkers.
Students write a Two-Minute Paper summarizing what they have learned about Oklahoma code talkers.
Lesson Slides (attached)
Matching Game Handout (attached; one per group)
Article-Stop and Jot handout (attached; one per student)
Excerpt from "Annumpa Luma: Code Talker" (attached; one per student)
It’s OPTIC-al Graphic Organizer handout (attached; one per student)
It’s OPTIC-al Graphic Organizer (Teacher Guide) (attached)
Pens or pencils
Use the attached Lesson Slides to guide the lesson.
Begin by telling students they will be watching a clip from a documentary, but don’t tell them anything more. The name of this documentary is "Comanche Code of Honor." This resource was produced by the Comanche National Museum and Cultural Center in Lawton, Oklahoma.
Display slide 2. Have students watch the video from the 25:14 mark through the 27:20 mark. Ask them to listen carefully to examples of recreated conversations.
Once you have stopped the video, have students answer the following questions:
What do you think is going on here?
Which war do you think this is?
Where do you think this took place?
What language do you think was being spoken?
Why do you think they were speaking in a different language?
After listening to students’ responses for a couple of minutes, explain that they have just listened to a recreated conversation between two code talkers during the Normandy invasion (D-Day) that took place on the coast of France during World War II.
Tell students that the language they heard was spoken by members of the Comanche Tribal Nation. Ask students to take notes:
The actors in the video represent people from the Comanche Tribal Nation and several other tribal nations from Oklahoma.
These American Indian citizens worked as code talkers during WWII.
Oklahoma citizens also served in the U.S. military as code talkers during World War I.
Display slide 3 and introduce the title of the lesson. Go to slide 4 and review the essential questions:
Who were the code talkers from Oklahoma?
What were their contributions?
Why is it important for us to acknowledge their contributions?
Go to slide 5. Review the lesson objective:
Explain why code talking became an important strategy used by the U.S. military during both world wars.
Inform students that they will be playing a matching game that will teach them about the specific codes created by the Choctaw Code Talkers during WWI and the Comanche Code Talkers during World War II.
Display slide 11. Give each student a copy of the attached Article-Stop and Jot handout. Since there is a lot of information to process, students will use the Stop and Jot strategy to answer questions that will guide their thinking about the paragraphs they are reading.
Go over the instructions in the slide. Ask students to look at the handout to make sure they understand how the strategy works. After students have spent about 20 minutes reading and taking notes on the article, ask for a few volunteers to share what they have learned about the code talkers with their classmates.
Explain to students that they will complete this activity in their original groups of four.
Distribute copies of the excerpt from the attached Annumpa Luma: Code Talker and the It’s OPTIC-al handout to each student.
Display slide 12. Explain to students that they will be working in their groups of four using the It’s OPTIC-al strategy to analyze a page from a graphic novel about code talkers. Discuss each letter in the columns of the handout:
Have students work for about 15 minutes to analyze the excerpt and discuss it with their peers. Once they have finished filling out the table in their handout, spend 5 minutes inviting student volunteers to share the findings their groups made with the rest of the class. Feel free to consult the attached It’s OPTIC-al Graphic Organizer (Teacher’s Guide) for examples of responses students might include in their charts.
Display slide 13.
Ask students to take out a piece of paper and pen or pencil. Explain to them that to conclude the lesson they will be writing a Two-Minute Paper in which they will summarize what they have learned about the code talkers from Oklahoma. The prompt for the activity is as follows: "How did code talkers from Oklahoma help the United States win both World Wars?"
Afterward, collect students’ responses and assess them as a summative evaluation.
Comanche Museum. (2013, December 10). Code of Honor - Comanche Code Talkers of WWII [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fABizJmghFk
K20 Center. (n.d.). It’s OPTIC-al. Strategies. https://learn.k20center.ou.edu/strategy/99
K20 Center. (n.d.). Stop and Jot. Strategies. https://learn.k20center.ou.edu/strategy/168
K20 Center. (n.d.). Surviving Assimilation. Lessons. https://learn.k20center.ou.edu/lesson/2024
K20 Center. (n.d.). Two-Minute Paper. Strategies. https://learn.k20center.ou.edu/strategy/152