Eighth-grade students in U.S. History classes at Heineman Middle School interviewed several area veterans to gain understanding of what it was like being a soldier and to learn about specific conflicts the veterans were involved in.
“Students learned much more,” said social studies teacher Todd Ary. “Prior to the interviews, students spent several days preparing questions, researching the conflicts and their soldier’s background.”
That entailed practicing speaking with clarity, making eye contact, follow-up questioning, and listening skills. Students learned how to formulate high-level questions for high-gain responses to immerse themselves into a 21st Century “face-time” activity.
“They met the challenge of being in the moment and making a connection to a living primary source!” Ary said.
At the interviews, each student asked 5-10 questions relating to the veteran’s personal military experiences. Groups learned about boot camp, being drafted or enlisted, jobs/assignments in the military, and locations of battles.
Questions about military food, communicating with family, how they spent “down-time,” and what the time period was like were all part of the session.
Interviews concluded with stories about why the U.S. got involved with certain foreign wars, the day they left the military, continuing friendships made during the war, and how their service and experiences has affected their lives. Conversations about loss, love, faith, duty and patriotism gave students an inside look into the life of a U.S. veteran.
In addition, each student wrote a personal letter of thanks to the veteran they met and interviewed.
A special thanks to the veterans who generously took time to speak with students:
World War II
Thomas McGough (great-great grandfather of a current 8th grade student)
Tom DeLeo (grandfather of a current 8th grade student)