Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.
As a result of this lesson, students will be able to do the following:
- list and describe some of the contributions of the Tuskegee Airmen
- explain the obstacles faced by African Americans wanting to serve in WWII
Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research
Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources
- Projector or SmartBoard
- Online access for research
- Roll of paper for mural
- Paint and paintbrushes
- Ask students if they have ever heard of the Tuskegee Airmen. If they have, have them share what information they know to activate prior knowledge about the topic.
- Use a projector or SmartBoard to display the lesson, Tuskegee Airmen: History, Facts & Accomplishments.
- Have the students silently read the first section of the lesson, 'Separation and Service' to find out who the Tuskegee Airmen were. Discuss how segregation impacted the ability of African Americans to serve in WWII. Be sure they recognize that the Tuskegee Airmen were the first African American men ever to serve as pilots in the U.S. military.
- Return to the lesson and ask students to silently read the next section, 'From Alabama to Europe,' to find out where the Tuskegee Airmen trained and why they were called the Red Tails. After all have finished reading, discuss the Tuskegee Airmen's training and the origin of the name.
- Return to the lesson, and ask the students to silently read the section, 'Impressive Accomplishments.' Ask the students how they think the stellar accomplishments of the airmen impacted the overall view of African Americans in the U.S. and why they think so.
- Have students finish reading the rest of the lesson silently. When everyone is finished, ask them if their predictions were right; did the Tuskegee Airmen change public opinion about the roles of African Americans in society?
- Display the Tuskegee Airmen: History, Facts & Accomplishments Quiz. Show one question at a time, having students respond to each question to check for understanding. Discuss the correct answers as a group.
- The activity for this lesson will focus on having students research the airmen to find out more specifics about their accomplishments.
- Students should each select one individual Tuskegee Airman or a flying unit of the Tuskegee Airmen to research in-depth. There is a plethora of information available online and in historical newspapers about them.
- Roll out a length of paper and assign each student a portion of the paper. Each student will create an image that portrays the person or air unit they researched, including relevant facts. The images all together will form a mural about the Tuskegee Airmen that can be displayed in the hallway of the school to educate others.
- Sample research assignments might include the following:
- C. Alfred 'Chief' Anderson, who was the first African American to earn a commercial pilot's certification
- Edward A. Gibbs, who was the founder of Negro Airmen International
- Lt. Daniel 'Chappie' James, Jr., who became the first African American four-star General
- Marion Rodgers, who later worked with NORAD and Apollo 13
- Airmen who received the 96 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 14 Bronze Stars, 8 Purple Hearts, and 3 Distinguished Unit citations
- Watch the film The Tuskegee Airmen
- Watch the documentary Red Tails: The Real Story of the Tuskegee Airmen
- Watch the documentary In Their Own Words: The Tuskegee Airmen 75th Anniversary
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