Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum


Vietnam- Dien Bien Phu, origins of the war, and early U.S. involvement
Author:
John Frazier
Course:
World History or American History
Time Frame:
Approximately, one ninety minute class or two forty-five minute classes. The larger the class size the more time the lesson will take.
Subjects:
Vietnam War
,
Dien Bien Phu

Grade Levels:
9, 10, 11, 12

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:
  • Individual, technology based, primary sources and cooperative learning
  • This lesson incorporates multiple activities. First, students will work individually and then with a partner. They will use computers, primary resources, and secondary resources to help gain information and then present that information to other classmates. Students will be interpreting and analyzing primary resources mostly in the form of videos. This lesson will incorporate many different activities. The teacher will need access to several computers. A projector will be helpful, but not required.  Note: If you like this methodology, I developed a similar lesson on the Ruhr Crisis that is posted under the 2009 summer teachers’ conference. 

Rationale:
  • The Vietnam War was an important event in U.S. and World History. Students need to fully understand the beginning phases of the war. I want the students to see the Vietnam War in the larger context of the Cold War.

District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met:


Show Me Standards

  • SS 6. relationships of the individual and groups to institutions and cultural traditions
  • SS 2. continuity and change in the history of Missouri, the United States and the world

KANSAS STANDARDS (High School-US History)

Benchmark 3: The student uses a working knowledge and understanding of individuals, groups, ideas, developments, and turning points in the era of the Cold War (1945-1990).

4. (A) evaluates the foreign policies of Kennedy and Johnson during the Cold War (e.g., Cuban Missile Crisis, Berlin Wall, Vietnam War, Peace Corp).

Benchmark 5: The student engages in historical thinking skills.

1. (A) analyzes a theme in United States history to explain patterns of continuity and change over time.

2. (A) develops historical questions on a specific topic in United States history and analyzes the evidence in primary source documents to speculate on the answers.

3. (A) uses primary and secondary sources about an event in U.S. history to develop a credible interpretation of the event, evaluating on its meaning (e.g., uses provided primary and secondary sources to interpret a historical-based conclusion).

4. (A) compares competing historical narratives in United States history by contrasting different historians’ choice of questions, use of sources, and points of view, in order to demonstrate how these factors contribute to different interpretations.

KANSAS STANDARDS (WORLD HISTORY)

Benchmark 4: The student uses a working knowledge and understanding of individuals, groups, ideas, developments, and turning points of the World Since 1945.

1. (A) analyzes the Cold War as the competition between two competing ideologies or world views and its impact on various regions of the world.

Benchmark 5: The student engages in historical thinking skills.

1. (A) analyzes a theme in world history to explain patterns of continuity and change over time.

4. (A) compares competing historical narratives in world history by contrasting different historians’ choice of questions, use of sources, and points of view, in order to demonstrate how these factors contribute to different interpretations.

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
Primary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
Technology Required:

access to computer

Full description of activity or assignment.
  • Divide the class into two equal groups. Group 1 and 2 will work on their projects simultaneously until it is time to give the group presentations. Teacher should be moving around the room, insuring that all students are participating and completing the assigned tasks.
  • GROUP 1: The first group of students will listen and watch the video on the website link listed below on the origins of the crisis. The video is titled “Battlefield Vietnam Dien Bien Phu.” The video describes the origins of the war involving France, the beginning of U.S. involvement, and a brief description of the battle of Dien Bien. The website link is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ur9qVP2As3Y
  • Students from group one will pair off. Each pair will work at a single computer constructing a set of notes on this video while they are watching it. Students should be each individually taking the notes, not consulting one another. Each student should construct their own set of notes. Then the students, now working with their partner, will construct a page summary of the video explaining the importance of the French failure in Vietnam, how the conflict played itself out in the larger Cold War, and how that led to direct U.S. involvement. Students should use their notes they just created to help them construct the paper. The teacher will then have each pair of students from group one present their summary of the French failures in Vietnam crisis to group two. Group two students will take notes on the presentations.
  • GROUP 2: The second group of students will listen and watch the video on the website link listed below on the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. The video is titled "Dien Bien Phu documentary.” This video describes in detail the battle of Dien Bien Phu The website link is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=th7tImvzutc
  • Students from group two will pair off. Each pair will work at a single computer constructing a set of notes on this video while they are watching it. Students should be each working individually at taking the notes, not consulting one another. Each student should construct a set of notes. Then the students, now working with their partner, will construct a page summary of the video explaining the importance of the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. Students should use their notes to help them construct the paper. The teacher will then have each pair of students from group two present their summary of the Battle of Dien Bien Phu to group one. Group one students will take notes on the presentations.
  • Both videos are approximately ten minutes in length.
  • If time remains, students can look at the images of defeated French troops on the following websites dealing with Vietnam and Dien Bien Phu on 1954 events:
  • www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://chandrakantha.com/articles/indian_music/filmi_sangeet/media/1954_Dien_Bien_P.jpg&imgrefurl=http://chandrakantha.com/articles/indian_music/filmi_sangeet/film_song_1954.html&h=253&w=375&sz=53&tbnid=_MQOg9-vDH0glM:&tbnh=82&tbnw=122&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dimages%2Bof%2BDien%2BBien%2BPhu&hl=en&usg=__DGO5JG7zyfWgBBzgVY-hp4qCWf8=&sa=X&ei=CUAyTJ6mJtCinQe9mvCKBA&ved=0CBYQ9QEwAA 
  • http://www.arqnet.pt/imagens3/imag050501.jpg
  • The teacher should create student directed questions about the images on the above websites. These questions can either be presented orally by the teacher or written on paper and passed out to the students. An example question would be: “What do these images tell us about the French's failure at Dien Bien Phu?”

Full explanation of the assessment method and/or scoring guide:
  • In the scoring guide, the teacher should use his or her knowledge about the level of students they teach, matching student achievement with an appropriate score. This scoring guide is attended to hold students accountable for all aspects this lesson plan incorporates. 

Scoring Guide:

  • Student name __________________________ Group 1 or 2
  • Individual notes on video 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
  • Written summary with partner  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
  • Presentation 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
  • Taking notes on opposite group’s presentation 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
  • Total points ____/40