A couple weeks ago, I received a Facebook friendship request from Mrs. Danelle Rivera.  I didn’t know her, but clicked on the ‘confirm’ button anyway and went about my business.  The next day, she sent me a note – thanking me for the friendship and for writing “Cherries”.  Turns out Danelle is a Social Studies / History Teacher at Discovery Canyon Campus High School in Colorado Springs – a public school for high achieving students, mostly kids of the nearby Air Force Academy officers and coaches.  This past year, she was asked to design the Honors US History curriculum.  Mrs Rivera commented, “I have always loved teaching US History and wanted to do the honors kids justice with the new curriculum. I wanted to bring history alive for them. I decided to do this with very interactive lessons and reading historical accounts of the time periods we studied.  When it comes to the Cold War era and Vietnam I have taken a keen interest in this time period since I was young.  It is also likely that my interest came from my father serving in country in Nha Trang.

“Last summer I read four Vietnam specific books trying to find one that would be engaging to high school students and yet truthful. Most of the books I read were slow and jargon filled. Your book was different! I could not put it down, literally. The week that I read your book I was running a basketball tournament at our school gym. (I am also the girls’ Varsity basketball coach).  I was reading the book every chance I could get at the tournament in the stands.  The decision was easy, my students are going to read, Cherries – A Vietnam War Novel.

 “This spring when my students read the book, it was assigned over spring break.  I gave my students almost a month and a half to finish it but many said they read over the one week during spring break because it was so good.”  Danelle Rivera created the following presentation for her history classes to launch the Vietnam War era…you’ll note that the last two slides are dedicated to her father, David.

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Class Assignment:

Objective: Create an illustrative and narrative power point that helps you as the reader to analyze the book Cherries.

Who is my audience: Create this power point for a reader that does not know about the Vietnam War.

Step 1 My Grunt Ruck

Create 5 slides that illustrate 10 major items (2 items per slide) that you would include in your pack if you had to hump through the bush of Vietnam.  Be sure to explain why you chose each item below each illustrative picture.

Step 2The Enemy

       War is hell and there is so much more taking place besides shooting a weapon. In war you will learn that a soldier’s “enemy” isn’t just another person shooting at him.  Create 3 slides From Sections 1, 2 and 3 of the book  to explain one of the “other” enemies in the bush.

·         Within your slide explain why you chose this as an enemy of the soldiers – be sure to cite the specific chapter(s) of the book that helped you identify this enemy.

Step 3 Analysis

In a three paragraph essay explain this statement:  It was nothing more than chance, luck, being in the right place at the right time that allowed many of our boys to come home in one piece.

 Danelle was kind enough to send me four completed student presentations to share on this blog.  Some of the wording may be difficult to read because I had to convert the slides into pictures and insert them below.  I’m sorry for that, but you’ll get the idea!  Keep in mind that these students are 15 / 16 years old.

Here is student #1

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Here is student #2

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Here is student #3

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Here is Student #4

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234567811121213I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these student presentations.  This year Danelle had 76 (3 classes) of Honors level sophomores for the US History class.  She is planning to supplement her Vietnam unit once again with my book “Cherries” in the next academic year. Unfortunately, she is only teaching 1 Honors US History class next year; but 32 lucky students will get the lessons that “Cherries” teaches about that era.  She is also inviting me to Skype with the class next year, which will give the students an opportunity to ask direct questions.  Looking forward to this!

Mrs. Rivera said she’d be honored if I publish the lessons she’d created so other teachers, who might be reading my blog, may consider implementing “Cherries” as a teaching tool.  Danelle – I am humbled and grateful for what you did and look forward to helping you and other teachers with their history classes next year.  If anyone else wants to contact Danelle, then send me a personal email and I’ll forward the information to her.

If you enjoyed this article and want to learn more about the Vietnam War – subscribe to this blog and get each new post delivered to your email or feed reader.   A directory of  all published posts is located to the right of each article and lists them in chronological order – links are live – just click and read.  If you’d rather scroll through every post, then click on the Cherries title at the top of this page and be redirected to my main page…page features the most recent posts – a navigation bar at the bottom is available to help move between the pages.

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