Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

(Mis)Reported and (Mis)Remembered

The Vietnam War

Chelsee Wilson | Published: May 27th, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 11th
  • Subject Subject Social Studies
  • Course Course U.S. History
  • Time Frame Time Frame 3 class period(s)
  • Duration More 150 minutes


This lesson provides an overview of the key events and concepts of the Vietnam War. Using hands-on activities and discussions, students are able to explore the vocabulary and multiple perspectives of the war. This lesson is meant to be taught after this era and subject have been introduced to students. Some of the activities might be overwhelming for students who have no prior knowledge of the Vietnam War.

Essential Question(s)

What is worth fighting for? Is there such a thing as a "just" war? How did the Vietnam War change the United States?



Students participate in a Four Corners activity to discuss a quote by President Nixon and explain their prior knowledge about the Vietnam War.


Students use the I Notice, I Wonder strategy as they watch part of "The Fog of War" and discuss questions that they might have about the war.


Students analyze documents related to the Vietnam War following a brief discussion with the teacher.


Students participate in a Honeycomb Harvest activity to make connections between key terms from the Vietnam War using information and concepts that they learned during the lesson.


Students complete a Two-Minute Paper using an Image Sort in order to explore the differing perspectives of the Vietnam War.


  • Honeycomb Harvest cards

  • Image Sort cards

  • Document packet (5 to 6 copies of each document)

  • Paper

  • Pens/pencils

  • Highlighters

  • Chart tablet

  • Markers


Display the quote from President Nixon on slide 5: "No event in American history is more misunderstood than the Vietnam War. It was misreported then, and it is (mis)remembered now."

Around the room, hang each of the Four Corners posters, labeled with Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, and Strongly Disagree. Students will use these posters to respond to the quote from President Nixon.

Ask students to stand next to the poster that best represents how they feel about the quote. Once students have found their chosen response poster, ask them to share with students in the same corner their reasoning for their choice.

Next, have each group elect a spokesperson to tell the rest of the class their reasoning for selecting the poster.


After discussing the quote, tell students that they will be watching a short video about the Vietnam War and completing an activity. Have students watch this clip from "The Fog of War" while completing an I Notice, I Wonder activity. Explain the directions that appear on slide 5.

Following the conclusion of the video, ask students to share out their observations (I Notice) with the class. After everyone has shared out, ask students to share out their questions (I Wonder). If students can answer the questions of their peers, allow them to do so. If not, try to encourage a brief discussion of the questions.

Following the discussion, ask students if any of the information that McNamara discussed in the video was new to them. Do they think that McNamara's perspective on the Vietnam War is ignored historically?


After students discuss their observations and questions related to the video, number students in the class one through six. Pass out one of the documents to a student whose number corresponds with the following documents (see slide six):

  1. Letter from Pres. Kennedy to Pres. Diem

  2. Joint Resolution of Congress, 1964

  3. Testimony of John Kerry before Congress, 1971

  4. News article "250,000 War Protesters Stage Peaceful Rally..."

  5. Marsh Carter's Remembrance of Quang Nam

  6. Viet Nguyen "Our Vietnam War Never Ended"

Pass out the documents organizer handout to all students. As students read their document, have them jot down notes about what they read using the organizer as a guide. After all students have read their assigned document and completed notes on the organizer, form groups of the students who read the same document. Note: If you have a large class, you might consider forming two groups of students per article. Try to keep groups to five or fewer students.

Give each group chart tablet paper and a marker. Using the organizer as guide, have them create a chart that they will use to "teach" their document to the rest of the class. The name of the document and the speaker or author should be included along with a few statements or a bulleted list of important ideas from the document. The presentation should include the viewpoint that the author or speaker presents about the war in Vietnam. As each document is presented, ask students to complete their notes on their own graphic organizer.

When all groups have shared out, ask students questions about the readings. Some possible questions might be:

  • Did you read any new information about the Vietnam War?

  • Which perspectives did you find most interesting?

  • Do any of the perspectives differ from accounts you might have read about in a textbook or previous class?

  • Did you notice any terminology or concepts in your reading that were familiar to you from your previous study of the Vietnam War?"


Show the quote from President Nixon again on slide 7. Ask students to discuss in their groups what aspects of the Vietnam War have been misreported or misremembered. Have students share out their opinions.

Keep students in their current groups and ask them to complete the Honeycomb Harvest activity using their prior knowledge about the Vietnam Era.

When the groups are finished sorting the cards and making connections between the terms, ask them to share out. Which terms/events/concepts did they have trouble with? Which terms were unfamiliar to them? Which terms were familiar?

If students still struggle with terms or definitions, go over them as a class and explain their possible interactions with other terms.


Display slide 8. Students will complete a Two-Minute Paper using the Vietnam War Image Sort. (The Image Sort is available in the attachments when you log in to LEARN.) Students will select one of the images in the sort and write about the perspective of the war based on the image that they selected. They can use their graphic organizer for support in gathering their thoughts. Students will turn in their Two-Minute Paper as they leave for the day. The Vietnam War document graphic organizer can also be used as a separate assessment.