• Students will read the book The Secret Battle of Evan Pao by: Wendy Wan-Long Shang and discuss how the main character was able to discover through research about Asian Americans who fought in the Civil War – students will also search out individuals who served during the Civil War
  • Next students will begin to understand what the role of a veteran actually is in our society.  They will discover that many famous Virginians were veterans and how serving impacted their lives
  • Students will then begin to gather information and practice interviewing their own veteran by working on a group of questions what is appropriate to do during interviews
  • Students will conduct an actual interview with a veteran and they will then display this information in one of three ways (offered as part of a choice board) that will be displayed at a museum walk that families, classmates, and friends can walk through and observe

Pictured above: Library of Virginia Changemaker and veteran William H. Carney from Norfolk, Virginia.

This part will take a couple of weeks, but essential to leading into the rest of the project.

Why was it important for Evan to find his place in this new community?

Students will read and discuss the novel and then begin to question and research underrepresented individuals who participated in the Civil War.

  1. War – a state of armed conflict between different nations or states or different groups within a nation or state
  2. Confederate – a supporter of the Confederate States of America
  3. Union – the group of states that remained loyal to the United States of America
  4. Secede – to withdraw from an organization (such as political party or federation)
  1. Students will read and discuss the novel in a manner that fits the teacher
  2. Afterwards students will go to The National Park Services’ Asians and Pacific Islanders and the Civil War booklet, where they will discover information about “Corporal Joseph Pierce, a US Army soldier who served at the Battle of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg in 1863.”
  3. Teacher can also choose to explore New American History. This site has lots of great information found within the section The Valley of the Shadow where students can view photographs and actual letters from the Civil War.  This site will be helpful for students to understand the extreme sacrifice that these soldiers endured during this difficult time in our nation’s history.
  4. After spending some time on these above sources the students will be ready to begin learning about veterans and their contributions to our country and communities.

Ito, Emma. “Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and Japanese Americans in Virginia .” Virginia Humanities. Virginia Humanities Fellow, 15 Dec. 2023, Charlottesville, Zoom

Long, Shang Wendy Wan. The Secret Battle of Evan Pao. Thorndike Press, a Part of Gale, a Cengage Company, 2023.

Phan, S. T. (2021, May). I See My Father in His Image: Asian Legacies and the Civil War. People In Perspective. https://acwm.org/blog/i-see-my-father-in-his-image-asian-legacies-and-the-civil-war/

Featured Lesson Image from Library of Congress: Soldier Group. [Between 1861 and 1869] Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/2018670854/>.

What is a Veteran?

Students will be able to identify the characteristics that an individual must possess in order to be a veteran and the vocabulary that defines a veteran and the jobs they perform.

  • Veteran – noun
    • A person who served in the military
  • Service – noun
    • The act of helping or doing work for someone
  •   Sacrifice – verb
    • an act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy.
  •     Enlist – verb
    • Enroll or be enrolled in the armed services
  •  Branch – noun
    • A specific part of the larger military
  •  Military – noun
    • The armed forces of a country
  •   Officer – noun
    • A person holding a position of authority in the armed forces
  1. Students will watch this video (https://www.loc.gov/item/2021690847/) from the Library of Congress giving basic information about interviewing Veterans. 
  2. Explain to students that we will be completing an activity that is similar to what the Library of Congress.
  3. Next students will be divided into pairs and given a paper with a list of vocabulary words associated with Veterans.  Students will work together to come up with definitions for the words and share out with the group.  Students will compare definitions and decide upon which ones they prefer (the ones they came up with or the given ones from the teacher)  
  4. Next students will compile a list of characteristics that a Veteran possesses, list the branches of the military. Watch a short video about Veterans (embedded below)
  5. Students will then access the Library of Virginia website (https://www.lva.virginia.gov/) to explore the Changemaker section in order to discover some information and background about some well-known Virginians.
  6. The following individuals will be searched and and reported on by assigned groups in the class
    • Quentin J. Smith
    • Monica Beltran
    • William E. Bailey
    • Clara Leach Adams-Ender
    • Florence Farley
    • William Harvey Carney
  7. After sharing the information with classmates about their assigned veteran students will have an idea of the type of information that they will need to find out during their interview.

Quentin J. Smith – “Quentin J. Smith Jr.,” Virginia Changemakers, accessed December 14, 2023, https://edu.lva.virginia.gov/changemakers/items/show/406.

Monica Beltran – “Monica Beltran,” Virginia Changemakers, accessed December 14, 2023, https://edu.lva.virginia.gov/changemakers/items/show/152.

William E. Bailey – “William E. Bailey,” Virginia Changemakers, accessed December 14, 2023, https://edu.lva.virginia.gov/changemakers/items/show/248.

Clara Leach Adams-Ender – “Clara Leach Adams-Ender,” Virginia Changemakers, accessed December 14, 2023, https://edu.lva.virginia.gov/changemakers/items/show/107.

Florence Farley – “Florence Farley,” Virginia Changemakers, accessed December 14, 2023, https://edu.lva.virginia.gov/changemakers/items/show/27.

William Harvey Carney – “William Harvey Carney,” Virginia Changemakers, accessed December 14, 2023, https://edu.lva.virginia.gov/changemakers/items/show/249

Depending on the age level you may want to set up specific questions for everyone to use or allow students to choose those topics that interest them the most.

What was it like to serve in the military?

Students will compile questions, practice interviewing skills and finally conduct their own interview with a veteran of the military.

  • Interview – a of people face to face
  • Question – a sentence worded or expressed so as to elicit information
  • Gracious – courteous, kind, and pleasant
  1. Students will use as an example the list of questions provided on the Library of Congress website: https://www.loc.gov/programs/veterans-history-project/how-to-participate/sample-interview-questions/
  2. After looking at and discussing with students, determine the top 10 questions that they feel would best be used in order to interview a veteran.  (Depending upon grade level the depth of questions will vary)
  3. Students can choose to put these questions on index card and/or in a google doc for easy access when they interview their veteran
  4. Students can choose to seek out their own veteran (family member, neighbor, family friend) OR if unable to find one on their own the teacher will provide individuals that will come to school to be interviewed by students.
  5. Students will be given the choice to showcase their information obtained by the veteran in one of three ways (Google Slide, Tri-Fold board, or typed report).

If students do not have any relatives and/or acquaintances that are veterans the teacher may have to provide individuals for the students to interview.

How has being a part of the military changed your life?

Students will conduct their one-on-one interview with a Veteran and display their information for the museum walk

  • Interview – a of people face to face
  • Question – a sentence worded or expressed so as to elicit information
  • Gracious – courteous, kind, and pleasant
  1. Students will conduct their interview with their assigned or chosen individual making sure to ask and record the answers from the interview
  2. Students will then take this information and create one of the following items 
    • Google Slide with at least 6 slides with pictures on each slide
    • A tri-fold board that allows all of the information to be shown
    • A typed 2 page report, double spaced, no larger than a font size of (12)
  3. Students will be placed throughout the halls and will be ready to share information to the “guests” about their experience and what they learned overall    
  4.  After the museum students will come back together to share some of their insights that were gained during this experience and provide their rose/thorn of the entire involvement of the unit study.