Vietnam War Lesson Plan

Instructor: Tammy Galloway

Tammy teaches business courses at the post-secondary and secondary level and has a master's of business administration in finance.

This lesson plan on the Vietnam War can help teach students the primary points of concern about the longest war in American history. Students will watch a video, participate in discussion questions, complete an activity and take a quiz.

Lesson Objectives

Upon completion of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • discuss the cause of the Vietnam War.
  • explain the impact the war had on the United States and American society.
  • discuss relevant events, legislation, and agreements as it relates to the Vietnam War.
  • describe how the war ended.


60 minutes

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.4

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including analyzing how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.5

Analyze in detail how a complex primary source is structured, including how key sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text contribute to the whole.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.6

Evaluate authors' differing points of view on the same historical event or issue by assessing the authors' claims, reasoning, and evidence.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.7

Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.



  • Begin this lesson by asking students to discuss their thoughts about the Vietnam War.
  • Now, explain that this lesson will explore causes and the impact of the Vietnam War.
  • Distribute the The Vietnam War: Causes, Conflicts & Effects lesson, play the video, pause at 02:39, then start the following discussion:
    • Why was the Vietnam War considered a proxy war?
    • Define trusteeship and containment and discuss their relevance in this lesson.
    • Describe President Eisenhower and Truman's influence during this time period.
    • Explain the purpose of the Geneva Conference and Southeast Asia Treaty Organization.
  • Next restart the video, pause at 07:35, then ask the following:
    • Discuss how the United States supported South Vietnam.
    • Explain President Kennedy's stance and impact on the Vietnam War.
    • Describe the challenges faced by the United States in 1963.
    • Why was President Johnson reluctant to send ground troops to fight the war?
    • Based on the question above, did President Johnson change his opinion? Explain.
    • Describe General William Westmoreland's three-phase plan.
  • Afterward, play the remainder of the video and ask these questions:
    • Describe the Tet Offense and its impact on Americans.
    • What impression did the Tet Offense leave in American minds?
    • Describe how the war ended.
  • Now, display the lesson quiz and ask students to write down the answer, then review.


  • Prior to class, search the internet and identify a digital timeline tool.
  • Began this activity by asking students to discuss suggestions on how the Vietnam War could have been prevented.
  • Now, explain that this exercise will further solidify their understanding of the war's events.
  • Divide the class into five groups and assign one of the following time periods to each:
    • 1950 - 1954
    • 1955 - 1959
    • 1960 - 1964
    • 1965 - 1970
    • 1971 - 1975
  • Explain the website the class will use for the digital timeline.
  • Ensure groups include relevant visuals and short audio and video, if available.
  • Then ask each group to create their digital timeline outlining the major events that occurred during their assigned time period.
  • Afterward, allow each group to present their timeline in chronological order.

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