Arts & Humanities
Four soldiers recently visited schools to thank students for thinking of them while they were stationed overseas.
Write the words Iran and Afghanistan on a board or chart. Ask students to find those places on a world map and to talk about why those countries are often in the news.
Then, on a U.S. map, have students identify the locations of the states of Alabama, Arizona, Iowa, and Pennsylvania.
Finally, ask students: When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone? Would anyone be willing to share to whom they wrote and why they wrote or what they wrote?
Next, introduce these words that appear in the News Word Box on the students printable page: Iraq, Afghanistan, mission, represents, military, and inspirational. Discuss the meanings of any of those words that might be unfamiliar. Then ask students to use one of those words to complete each of these sentences:
U.S. soldiers are deployed each month to the Western-Asian countries of _____ and _____. (Afghanistan, Iraq)
Pastor Browns sermon was both funny and _____. (inspirational)
Our organizations main _____ is to support people whose lives have been turned upside down by natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, and fires. (mission)
The bald eagle is a symbol of America that _____ freedom. (represents)
The five branches of the U.S. _____ are the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, and Navy. (military)
You might use a variety of approaches to reading the news:
Read aloud the news story to students as they follow along.
Students might first read the news story to themselves; then you might call on individual students to read sections of the news aloud for the class.
Photocopy the news story onto a transparency and project it onto a screen. (Or use your classroom computer's projector to project the story.) Read the story aloud as a class, or ask students to take turns reading it.
Arrange students into small groups. Each student in the group will read a paragraph of the story. As that student reads, others might underline important information or write notes in the margin of the story. After each student finishes reading, others in the group might say something -- a comment, a question, a clarification -- about the text.
More Facts to Share
You might share these additional facts with students after they have read this weeks news story.
This month, to celebrate and honor our soldiers as Memorial Day nears, many students and others will write letters to soldiers serving around the world. Some will carry their letters to their local Dodge truck dealership. Dodge Trucks hopes to send 1,000,000 letters to U.S. soldiers serving overseas starting on May 15. You can learn more about this program at ramtrucks.com. [Second source: PR Newswire]
Education Worlds Thinking About Our Troops lesson plan shares additional ways in which your students might connect with U.S. troops serving around the world.
This resource offers some writing prompts you might provide for students as they write personal letters to soldiers serving overseas.
Sgt. Allen Ienn of the Arizona National Guard visited Yumas Centennial Middle School to thank students there for cards and letters they sent to him and his fellow soldiers stationed in Iraq. "We got cards on Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, Valentines Day, and Veterans Day," he told the Yuma Sun.
Sgt. Demir Lico received a big welcome when he showed up at Our Lady of the Valley Catholic School in Shelby County, Alabama. Lico's aunt has children who attend Our Lady of the Valley, according to Fox Alabama News.
Some students at Cavallini Middle School in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, take an elective class called For the Troops." The class adopted" Army Spec. Chaz Bellina from Pompton Lakes, who is stationed in Iraq. Bellina recently stopped to visit students while home on a two-week leave to be with his baby son, Dante. Bellinas visit puts a human face on the missions and makes them understand there are real people with lives and families behind the uniforms," Cavallini Principal Gene Solomon told NorthJersey.com.
Army Staff Sgt. Jason Al-Dhalaan recently paid a visit to Sharon Stinson's first- and second-graders at Valencia Elementary School in Pico Rivera, California (El Rancho Unified School District). He has been their pen pal for the past school year. The students sent a care package, which came at just the right time, Al-Dhalaan said. It was great," he told the Whittier Daily News. We were hurting really bad on supplies." His fellow soldiers particularly appreciated the travel-size snacks, baby wipes, and flavored waters.
Students in Ann Powers second-grade class at St. Ansgar (Iowa) Elementary had a visit from their special pen-pal, Sgt. Ryan Schmitt of the Iowa National Guard. Getting letters from children allows soldiers to get back to the innocence of life," Schmitt told The Globe Gazette (Mason City). Schmitt serves his unit as a mechanic and had sent pictures of Flat Stanley in front of some of the big equipment he repairs.
A group of fourth graders at North Hill Elementary school in York, Pennsylvania, sent many drawings and letters to local National Guard troops serving in Afghanistan. One of those soldiers, Sgt. Keith Llloyd, recently visited the school, according to a news report on Fox43.
Students at ROWVA East Elementary School in Altona, Illinois, have been writing to soldiers in Iraq for several years. Jeff Libby, who is on his third tour in Iraq, is the brother-in-law of a teacher at ROWVA East. Libby grew up in Altona and he matched up soldiers in his division with each of the 55 fifth graders at ROWVA East. The soldiers answer questions about life in Iraq and send Iraq memorabilia along with their letters, according to a news story published by The Register-Mail. Students and soldiers also exchanged DVDs. The soldiers sent pictures of themselves and the area where they are deployed, including pictures of sandstorms and schools. The students sent a Christmas DVD so soldiers could match faces with names.
The video below shares the story of some other students who wrote letters to soldiers and received a visit when the soldiers returned from Iraq. You might share this video with your students.
Answer Key Language Practice: Find the Mistakes. Mistakes are shown below in red type.
I am writing to thank you for your service to our country. I hope you know how much millions of other Americans and I appreciate your efforts and sacrifice. You and the other women and men serving with you are helping to make the world a better and safer place to live.
Even though you are many miles away today, I want you to know that you are being remembered. You are in my thoughts and prayers every day. I hope you will stay safe and be home with your loved ones soon.
Please keep up the good work!
James B. Smith More Language Practice: Building Vocabulary. 1.a, 2.d, 3.d, 4.b, 5.b. Reading Comprehension: Whats the Main Idea? a. Soldiers really appreciate letters and packages that students send to them.
Language arts -- letter writing. See more information at the top of the More Facts to Share section of this lesson.
Use the Use the News printable activity page as an assessment (answers above). Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the Think About the News questions on the news story page or in the Comprehension Check section.