Tag Archives: WWII

Fourth Piece of the Puzzle

Select an image or video file that is related to your final project idea. Post it in your blog and describe why you chose it and how it might be difficult for students and others to make sense of.

The image I consider using as part of my  final project is the photo of a young 16-year-old German boy being captured. He was an German anti aircraft soldier of the Hitler Youth.

This photo appears on the World War II Pictures in Details blog that hosts hundreds of WWII photographs from around the world. However, the photo also appears on the Rare Historical Photos site. I chose this image as an introduction into the war and its uncommon and uncomfortable details. Students will be reading Unbroken, learning about the U.S. presence in the war not just from the political stance, but also from the human perspective, and they will be considering how it connects to their hometown and its flight training school. I feel that this image will first parachute students in the middle of the events of the war.

Step 1: Students will be asked to examine the photograph and create their own details  and narrative of it. I will ask them to think about, Who is on the photo? Where was it taken? Who took the photograph? They will then share and discuss their findings. I anticipate that students might be confused about the identity of the young boy. However, if they guess his German uniform, they might have a variety of explanations of why he is crying. Dating the photo might also be difficult, although if students study the timeline of WWII, they might place the photo toward the end of the war.

Step 2: I will ask students to revise their narrative based on the discussions they had after the first look at the photo. Then I will provide them with a variety of clues to expand the narrative. At this point, it would be interesting to see if dividing the class into four groups and giving a different set of clues to each would make a significant difference in the outcome of the narratives. I might ask each group to formulate one common narrative they agree on as a group.

Step 3: Groups  will share their narratives and as a class discussion, we will discuss and decide which one seems most likely. Then, I will share the websites and the full story with students along with a few more of the photos taken of the same young boy, which in turn will create the final discussion of the photo. I am interested in hearing how after viewing the other photographs, they would consider adding on to their narratives.

Step 4: Student will write a reflection on the process of thinking about the image and what assumptions they may have had. I will be interested in seeing how their historical thinking manifests in viewing the photo from the understanding of the present and perhaps reflecting on how they would have behaved or made choices of their own. Also, I would hope to see their thinking as they consider living in Germany during WWI in contrast to looking back on it from the 21st century. Additional questions might be reflected upon: Does the fact that the boy is crying make him seem more innocent? How would students’ opinion of the boy be different if he were resisting, showing anger, or smiling?

Step 5: Students will write a journal entry or a letter home from the boy’s perspective in which they relay the events leading up to the photo being taken.


Second Piece of the Puzzle

How will digital media and/or digital tools be important to teaching my target audience one of the essential lessons I’ll be focusing on in my project?

My project will aim at teaching high school students about American history during WWII in connection to local history. While the knowledge of historical events and places are important to the lesson, students will mostly rely on primary sources and first person accounts to piece the puzzle of this time period together from the local front. Digital media will play a role in watching interviews,  documentaries, reading diaries of WWII pilots, and analyzing images using the following websites:

  • The WWII Combat Diary of Lt. Kermit D. Wooldridge – https://sites.google.com/site/ww2pilotsdiary/
  • The WASPs: Women Pilots of WWII – http://www.radiodiaries.org/the-wasps-women-pilots-of-wwii/
  • Diary of Bruce Johnston – http://lancasterdiary.net/
  • World War II First Person Accounts, Letters Home, Diaries, & Journals – http://www.teacheroz.com/WWII_Oral_History.htm
  • What did it take to be a fighter pilot? – http://www.talkingproud.us/Retired/Retired/WWIIfighterpilot_files/becoming-a-wwii-fighter-pilot.pdf
  • Aviation Cadet Training Program – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aviation_Cadet_Training_Program_(USAAF)
  • Pilot’s Log at Mesa del Rey – http://acsleonard.org/pilotslog/
  • Life Magazine Covers:
    • https://timedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/160516-female-wwii-pilots-life-magazine.jpg?w=560

What, specifically, about the digital environment will influence what you do and why?

The digital environment will provide the literature, images, and overall the resources for the lesson. Students will be “mining” sites and browsing for material to compare, to ask questions, and to be better informed about the the journey of pilots. Then they will create their own site about one of the pilots who were trained at Mesa del Rey similar to the Bruce Johnston Diary website. Since they will be inventing a life for a person after training, it will be crucial that they understand what it took to become a pilot, to serve during the war, and to make the sacrifices.


Pilot’s Log – Project Proposal

Pilot’s Log is a website created to preserve the little known history of the flight school operated at Mesa Del Rey Airport in King City, California during WWII (1940-45).  Within the history of the place, the website will predominantly focus on bringing to light the cadets who were at Mesa Del Rey and left for the war after a brief ten-week training. The airport still operates as a small civil airport, however it offers only a binder containing a news article about its history, letters from one pilot’s collection, and a few photographs. A Wikipedia page offers a brief information about the airport. The local Museum features an Aviation Exhibit (currently closed), has a few copies of the King’s Log, the “class” books from the flight school, a silent film depicting cadets arriving on a train to King City, and an interview conducted with one of the pilots, Red Rider. Currently, there is no website that allows audiences to access or share information about this part of American history when young men from around the country were summoned to King City, trained to fly Fairchild PT-19s and PT-17 Stearmans, and left for the war. Other than a few local history enthusiast and local family members of the cadets, the history of the pilots and the flight school is buried in attics, in boxes and in the memories of people around the United States.

Pilot’s Log Digital Project Goals:

  1. To inform its audience about an important part of King City’s history and its contribution to the World War II efforts.
  2. To recognize the thousands of men who trained at Mesa Del Rey and later fought in the war by compiling a composite of who these cadets were, how their lives were at the flight school and how it changed as they played an important role in the history of the United States.
  3. To engage audiences interested in local history, WWII history, history of pilot training, or to find out about fellow pilots or connect families in this common history.
  4. To open up the conversation about this time in history and invite the audience to contribute their own stories and artifacts in the hopes of recovering the history of the Mesa Del Ray Flight School and its cadets.
  5. To further engage audiences and encourage critical thinking, the project poses the following historical questions:
  • Who were these men/cadets/pilots and where did they come from?
  • What do the activities, the training, and statistics about pilot output tell us about the success of the school?
  • Where were the trained pilots assigned for duty?
  • What happened to those who did not make it as pilots?
  • What can we learn from the experiences of these cadets about war, relocation, family matters, and camaraderie?
  • How does the history of Mesa Del Rey flight school inform local history?
  • How does King City and the Mesa Del Rey Army Air Force flight school fit into military history of the U.S.?
  • How frequently or to what extent was the flight school chronicled in the local paper?

The digital exhibit will be created in Omeka using digitized pages from the King’s Logs, photos, interviews, and a film courtesy of the Monterey County Agricultural and Rural Life Museum. The site will have item profiles, exhibitions, and pages about the men. One exhibit will consist of articles documenting the flight school.  The other exhibit will include the available yearbook information (1943-44): list of cadets in each division with the addition of pictures. A collection will display the art (cartoon drawings) and humor depicted in the logs reflecting on the experiences at school. Finally, I plan to map the places around the country where the cadets came from and mark the location of the school. Plugins, such as Video Stream, Exhibit Builder, COinS, Simple Pages, Neatline, and Geolocation will be implemented.

Target audiences will include people interested in King City’s local history, aviation, WWII history, pilots who attended the Mesa Del Rey flight school and their families, current and former pilots, pilot training, and anyone fascinated by common people making history.