Vietnam & Cold War Lesson Plan Using Protest Songs (Audio)
Teacher Name: Shelby L. Carbaugh
Lesson Title: The Vietnam War: Viewed from Popular Music of the Era
Target Grade/Subject: 11th Grade / Virginia & U.S. History
Students in this class represent a diverse group of ethnic backgrounds, but socio-economically a majority
are middle class. This lesson is designed for the College-Prep level classroom and all students have
demonstrated proficiency in Internet-based research and have a working knowledge of creating PowerPoint
presentations, and all possess a county-issued iBook. In all there are a total of 31 students, six of which
have IEP's and two English-learners
Length: 2-3 class periods
VA SOL: VUS13.b
The student will demonstrate knowledge of United States foreign policy since World War II by
b) explaining the origins of the Cold War, and describing the Truman Doctrine and the policy of containment
of communism, the American role of wars in Korea and Vietnam, and the role of the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization (NATO) in Europe;
1. What was the impact of the Vietnam War on Americans at home?
2. What was the impact of the Vietnam War and the hostilities at home for the soldier fighting in Vietnam?
• Develop an understanding of the controversial nature of the Vietnam War.
• Identify various points of view about the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.
• Discover several social themes present in much of the popular music of the period.
• Recognize propaganda devices at work in specific song lyrics of the time.
Tools and Resources
• “The Americans” textbook (Chapter 30)
Technology/Classroom Arrangement and Management Strategies:
• Students will be allowed time in class and during Panther time to access the Internet to conduct
research and design PowerPoint presentations.
Prerequisite technology skills needed by students:
• Basic working knowledge of the Internet and word processing skills.
• Basic editing skills in using PowerPoint and ability to embed protest songs within presentation.
Focus and Review of previous work/knowledge:
The students and teacher will engage in a class discussion as review of the meaning and foundations of
The Cold War as it was essentially a competition between two very different ways of organizing
government, society, and the economy. We will discuss the American-led western nations’ belief in
democracy, individual freedom and a market economy, and the Soviet belief in a totalitarian state and
socialism. Further we will revisit the concept that the U.S. government and its anti-Communist strategy of
containment in Asia directly as it resulted in America’s involvement in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
What is propaganda?
What is a protest?
How does contemporary music reflect the voice of the people?
What were doves and hawks and what did each group represent?
Imagine the school board has just announced that the junior/senior prom will be cancelled at all county
schools this year. What would you or could you do to attempt to change the policy? Would you be willing to
go to jail as a result of your actions? Teacher will listen to students brainstorm methods of protest.
• Students will be placed in groups of 9 forming 3 groups. Each group will be assigned the following
o “The Star Spangled Banner” Jimi Lennon (1969)
o “Fortunate Son” Creedence
o “War” Edwin Starr (1970) Clearwater Revival (1969)
o “Ballad of the Green Berets” Sgt.
Country Joe McDonald (1970)
Barry Sandler (1966)
o “Ohio” Crosby, Stills, Nash
o “The Unknown Soldier” The
o “Born in the USA” Bruce
o “Give Peace A Chance” John
• Students will research each song and determine if it could be considered a protest song, and if so
which side of the Vietnam argument did the song support.
• Students will examine specific lyrics of each song and determine what the artist’s message was
attempting to communicate to the audience.
• Each student will share their information with their group on their individually assigned song.
• Each group will design a PowerPoint presentation creatively combining each song with visual
imagery of the time, either in Vietnam or at home.
Guided practice and checking for understanding (student activities):
Students will edit the PowerPoint presentation with the following information:
o Students will be encouraged to use lyrics found in each song combined with visuals
(primary sources) throughout their group PowerPoint in order to tell the story of the time
visually. Each song must be used and embedded within the presentation with a minimum
of three slides.
When reviewing selected songs students should ask themselves:
- What is the “mood” of the song?
- Is it a patriotic song?
- Is it a protest song?
- Is it both?
Independent practice (student activities):
-Students will have time in class and during Panther time to work in their groups to ensure their
project as a whole is complete for presentation. At this point the groups will be able to edit or add
any information that could perhaps enhance or improve the project once linked together as a
-Each group will present their PowerPoint to the class. We will discuss the overall trends that were
commonly found in each group’s research and presentations. We will also discuss any differing
trends or information that may have been discovered by one or more group.
-The teacher will then present her own PowerPoint presentation linking songs from the Cold War
era during the 1980’s, specifically the songs “Russians” by Sting (1985) and “Winds of Change” by
the Scorpions (1990)
-Students will be asked to interview two adults that can discuss with the student their own
experiences here in the United States or abroad during the Cold War and also Vietnam War Eras.
Topics of discussion could be such events as the Cuban Missile Crisis, protests during the Vietnam
War, being drafter and or serving in the Armed Services during these times, the fall of the Berlin
Wall, their life as students at that time (ex: home bomb shelters and school drills.) Remind students
to include their interviewees thoughts and feeling on at least two of the protest songs used in our
project. Each student will draft a list with a minimum of twelve thoughtfully drawn up and engaging
questions for each interview and write an essay describing the interviewees experiences and the
students reflection upon that experience as it relates to what we have learned in our unit on the
Cold War. Students will present to the class in a 5-7 minute presentation their experience and
Assessment of objectives:
Each student will be asked to complete the two short essays below in class:
• Review and respond to the following piece of popular music/lyrics from the Vietnam War, discuss
the purpose and content of the song.
• Imagine it is 1967. Do you think you would ally yourself with the hawks or the doves? Discuss the
reasons that support your decision.
-Students with more technological experience and will assist the group in creating and embedding
the audio into the PowerPoint presentation.
-The teacher will also assist in pairing students with individuals with whom they will be able to
conduct an informative interview.
4 – Student provided relevant and creative slides for the song they were assigned for their group, which
contributed to the overall high quality of the PowerPoint in its entirety. Student provided detailed,
organized, and factual information for each essay. Responses were very well thought out and
demonstrated thorough knowledge and understanding of the era.
3 – Student provided relevant slides for the song they were assigned for their group, which contributed to
the overall quality of the PowerPoint in its entirety. Student provided organized and factual information for
each essay. Responses demonstrated knowledge and understanding of the era.
2 – Student provided the sufficient number of slides representing the song they were assigned for their
group, which only contributed slightly to the quality of the PowerPoint in its entirety. Student provided an
organized essay, however gave little factual information to support their position. Responses
demonstrated a limited knowledge and understanding of the era.
1 – Student failed to provide either the appropriate amount of slides for the group PowerPoint, or the slides
selected did not show relevance to the song assigned. Student submitted essays that were disorganized
and lacked factual information in order to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the era.