GRADE LEVEL

6-8

SUBJECT(S)

Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies

Cemetery/Memorial

Cambridge American Cemetery

Fallen Hero

Gale McGowan

“ The World War II lessons related to the Battle of the Atlantic and the German Wolf Pack were created to provide a hands-on, engaging method for students to learn about the war against Germany. The multi-disciplinary activities allow teams of teachers to work together or independently to increase student knowledge. ”
-Gayla Hammer

Overview

Students will increase their knowledge to identify the tactics used by the German Wolf Pack and how the U-boats impacted the Battle of the Atlantic by watching primary source video clips and analyzing data. Percent circle graphs will be created to show the tonnage of merchant ships lost to U-boat attacks. Students will create a model of a submarine to understand the effect of positive and negative buoyancy in water. By analyzing primary source documents, students will understand the role of First Lieutenant Gale B. McGowan in the Atlantic Theater during World War II. This lesson is designed to create a middle-level team integration between Social Studies, Mathematics, Science, and English/Language Arts.

Activity Download Activity

Historical Context

During World War II, the Atlantic Ocean was a super highway for military supplies, men, and equipment being shipped from the United States to Great Britain. The Battle of the Atlantic refers to the continuing battle between the German and Allied navies. Like a hungry wolf sensing a weak animal, the German U-boats detected ships traveling across the wide stretches of ocean without protection. Wolves hunt by searching for lone prey and calling for reinforcement to take down their next meal. German U-boats became known as the Wolf Pack by using similar tactics when trolling the Atlantic Ocean hungrily hunting for their next target. First Lieutenant Gale Bernard McGowan’s name appears on the Wall of the Missing at Cambridge American Cemetery, with many others who lost their lives in the battles that led up to the Normandy Invasion.

Objectives

At the conclusion of this lesson, students will be able to

  • Identify the tactics the German Wolf Pack used during the Battle of the Atlantic;
  • Analyze the impact of the German U-boats during the Battle of the Atlantic;
  • Model neutral, negative, and positive buoyancy by creating a model of a submarine; and
  • Understand the importance of a fallen hero during World War II.
Standards Connections

Connections to Common Core
CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.SP.B.4 Display numerical data in plots on a number line, including dot plots, histograms, and box plots.
CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.SP.B.5.C Giving quantitative measures of center (median and/or mean) and variability (interquartile range and/or mean absolute deviation), as well as describing any overall pattern and any striking deviations from the overall pattern with reference to the context in which the data were gathered.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.7 Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.9 Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, video, or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on the same topic.

Connections to C3 Framework
D2.His.1.6-8. Analyze connections among events and developments in broader historical contexts.
D2.His.3.6-8. Use questions generated about individuals and groups to analyze why they, and the developments they shaped, are seen as historically significant.
D2.His.15.6-8. Evaluate the relative influence of various causes of events and developments in the past.

Materials

Activity One: Battle of the Atlantic / Social Studies

Activity Two: Analyzing the Impact of the Wolfpack / Mathematics

Activity Three: Submarine Models / Science

  • Eye dropper or pipette
  • Water for Cartesian Diver
  • Access to water (sink, tub, pitcher)
  • One or two liter plastic bottle with lid
  • Small plastic containers that can hold water: film canisters, 8 ounce water bottles, etc.
  • Materials that can fit in containers: pennies, bolts, washers, beans, plastic cubes
  • Rubber bands, tape
  • Large plastic tub or sink to hold water
  • Poster paper for vocabulary words and definitions
  • World War II Submarine Buoyancy worksheet for each group of students
  • Computer to watch Bill Nye the Science Guy, if students need more information about the concept of buoyancy.
  • Class Grading Rubric for Submarine Models
  • Teacher Tip: the quantity of material will vary based on class size and the teacher’s desire for students to work independently or cooperatively.

Activity Four: Impact of a Fallen Hero in the Battle of the Atlantic / Language Arts

Lesson Preparation

Activity One: Battle of the Atlantic / Social Studies

Activity Two: Analyzing the Impact of the German Wolf Pack / Mathematics

Activity Three: German U-Boat Models / Science

  • Make a Cartesian Diver to demonstrate the principle of buoyancy using a plastic bottle filled with water and a pipette filled ¼ full of water which will sink or float when the density and mass changes due to compression of the bottle.
  • Create a supply station with film canister with lids, plastic bottles with lids, washers, dried beans (any small, plastic container with lids, small items that can fit in containers).
  • Secure plastic tubs or sinks filled with three gallons of water for students to test their models of a submarine.
  • Make one copy of World War II Submarine Buoyancy worksheet for each team of students.
  • Create groups of three to four students each.
  • Print one Rubric, Submarine Model.
  • Hang a piece of poster board for vocabulary words and definitions.

Activity Four: Impact of a Fallen Hero in the Battle of the Atlantic / Language Arts

Procedure

Activity One: Battle of the Atlantic / Social Studies (30-45 minutes)

  • Distribute a copy of the Battle of the Atlantic Recording Sheet to each student.
    • Watch the Battle of the Atlantic Interactive video segments.
    • Instruct students to record three new facts learned from each video segment on their worksheets.
    • Provide students time to complete the 3-2-1 section of the worksheet, which is an assessment to determine students’ learning, unclear information, and unanswered questions.
  • Move students into “student talk” groups of four students.
    • Ask students to share their ideas of the Wolf Pack’s destruction during the Battle of the Atlantic and their thoughts in the 3-2-1 section of their paper.
    • Walk around the classroom and listen to student talk and record student engagement on the grading rubric.
    • Guide students who may need help in identifying the Wolf Pack’s role during the war and evaluate the students’ learning, unclear information and unanswered questions.
  • Instruct teams to assign one member to a poster to record one idea from their discussion for the titles:
    • Role of the Wolf Pack;
    • Things I Want to Remember;
    • I Wonders; and
    • Important Fact Learned.
  • After the students have completed their recordings on the poster board, provide a few minutes for students to look for similar ideas and differences from the groups.
  • Discuss the students’ observations.
  • Ask students to complete the paragraph on the back of the worksheet after the student talk and whole class discussion.
  • Collect student papers to analyze understanding of the lesson, concepts students identified for more discussion, and questions students have on the topic.

Activity Two: Analyzing the Impact of the German Wolf Pack / Mathematics (45 minutes)

  • Distribute out a copy of the Wolfpack: Destruction in the Battle of the Atlantic worksheet to each student and provide three minutes for students to look at the tables on each page.
    • Review vocabulary as needed for students (tonnage, percent, etc.).
  • Read the directions on the worksheet with the class:
    • After watching the Battle of the Atlantic Interactive videos, it is time to calculate the destruction of the German Wolf Pack. Look at each table of data collected after World War II. Follow the directions under the charts, answer the Question to Ponder on the last page using the tables and percent graphs, and explain how to use a percent circle, if necessary.
  • Provide blank paper, colored pencils, and percent circles for each student.
    • Walk around the room and assist students with creating percent graphs.
  • Move students into groups of three to four students to discuss and share percent graphs and analysis of the data from the charts. Walk around the room and listen to student discussions, guide students who may need assistance in analyzing the data.
  • As a whole class, take time to discuss the main ideas from each group of students.
  • Check for understanding of the graphs with the Question to Ponder on the student worksheet: If you were from an Allied country what would you do to lessen the impact of the Wolf Pack on Allied ships?
  • The percent graphs can be scored using the Percent Graph Grading Rubric.

Activity Three: German U-Boat Models / Science (45 minutes)

  • Introduce or review vocabulary words: density, buoyancy.
  • Model the Cartesian Diver for the students by squeezing the water bottle to show the pipette sinking and release the pressure on the bottle so the pipette floats to the top of the bottle.
  • Ask the class to identify what causes the pipette to descend and ascend in the bottle using scientific vocabulary.
    • Teacher tip: The density and the mass of the pipette changes when the bottle is squeezed causing water to enter the bottom of the pipette, which increases the mass of the pipette causing it to sink. The pressure being released from the bottle allows the extra water to leave from the pipette allowing it to float to the top of the bottle.
  • Review neutral, positive and negative buoyancy, density, and mass with the class. Write the definitions for each word on a piece of poster paper to display in the room for students to use during the lab.
  • Depending on the amount of materials the teacher has at the classroom supply center, students will work independently or with teams of two to three students to create a German U-Boat which exhibits neutral, positive, and negative buoyancy. Ask the students to design their U-boat on their worksheet, including the materials used in their model.
    • Walk around the classroom to monitor the groups of students, ask questions if groups need guidance, and complete the grading rubric.
    • Test the students’ models in a tub or sink of water. Make sure there is enough water in the largest container to float and sink their models.
    • Ask the students to write the outcome of their test on their lab sheet.
  • Challenge the students to create a German U-Boat using the film canister or water bottle that exhibits positive and negative buoyancy in the water, but using only one material for both properties.
    • Teacher Tip: students should use water, similar to how submarines dive and surface.
  • Test the students’ models in the tub of water.
  • Discuss with the class the concept of ballast tanks and how submarines use ballast tanks to float and submerge by filling the tanks with water to dive and releasing the water to return to the surface of the water.
  • Class discussion: Why was the German U-boat a successful technology used against the Allied forces during the Battle of the Atlantic?
  • Collect the group’s worksheets with their plans and designs.

Activity Four: Impact of a Fallen Hero in the Battle of the Atlantic / Language Arts (45-60 minutes)

Assessment
Methods for Extension

Battle of the Atlantic Extensions (Social Studies)

  • Students can research the methods used to counter the impact of the German Wolf Pack during World War II.
  • Students can interview members of the military who served in the Battle of the Atlantic to hear the perspective from a first-person point of view.


Analyzing the Impact of the German Wolfpack (Mathematics)

  • Students can analyze the data displayed on the table Chart of U-Boat Losses 1939-1945, and then identify the Allied and British impact on the German U-boats during World War II.


German U-Boat Models Extensions (Science)

  • Students can create a self-propelled German U-Boat which can travel below the water and on the surface.
  • Students can create a model of a German U-Boat with buoyancy tanks.
  • Students can research and create a model of a full-sized German U-boat by drawing the outline of the craft outside on the school grounds.
  • Students can determine the volume of a German U-Boat and calculate the volume per person.


Impact of a Fallen Hero on Germany and the Wolf Pack in the Battle of the Atlantic (Language Arts)

  • Students can research other Fallen Heroes from their town or state.
  • Students can interview people in their community who were affected by World War II to learn their stories.
  • Students can create a website with the stories, documents and photos for the World War II Fallen Heroes in their community.
  • The American Battle Monuments Commission maintains U.S. military cemeteries overseas. These cemeteries are permanent memorials to the fallen, but it is important that students know the stories of those who rest here. To learn more about the stories of some of the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice, visit the Understanding Sacrifice Interactive Map.

Adaptations

Battle of the Atlantic Adaptations (Social Studies)

  • Teachers can partner students or create groups to support students with special needs or English Language Learners who may need assistance completing the worksheets.
  • Teachers can assign student partners and hand out one worksheet for each pair to complete together to assist students with special needs or English Language Learners.


Analyzing the Impact of the German Wolfpack Adaptation (Mathematics)

  • Teachers can assign partners or teams of students to create one percent graph to assist students who have special needs or are English Language Learners.
  • Students can create percent graphs using a computer instead of a percent circle.


German U-Boat Model Adaptations (Science)

  • Teachers can utilize videos about how submarines work for students who have special needs or are English Language Learners.
  • Teachers can hand out one worksheet for partners or teams of students to complete together.
  • Students can work with a partner or team of students to create models of German U-Boats.


Impact of a Fallen Hero on Germany and the Wolf Pack in the Battle of the Atlantic Adaptations (Language Arts):

  • Teachers can assign partners or teams of students to compete the Fallen Hero study worksheet.
  • Students can work with a partner to read the information in the primary source documents.
  • Students can work with partners or teams to write a newspaper article about Gale B. McGowan.
  • Students can use a computer to record their story using Dragon Speaks or Croak.It or other assistive technology devices for recording their newspaper article or answers to the questions.