Journalism, Language Arts, Social Studies
Rhone American Cemetery
“ Often, civilians and members of the military in non-traditional roles are overlooked when teaching World War II. To more fully understand the impact and scale of the war, students must hear the stories of these men and women. ”
Using primary and secondary sources and interactive maps from the American Battle Monuments Commission, students will learn about the impact of the French Resistance on the battle for France and the overall outcome of the war. Students will critically analyze documents to learn about the ways in which the Resistance operated. Students will create a newspaper to inform the public and recruit potential members to the movement.
Activity Download Activity
The French Resistance was a collection of French citizens who united against the German occupation. In addition to the German military, which controlled northern France, many French people objected to the Vichy government, the government of southern France led by World War I General Marshal Philipe Pétain. The Resistance played a vital role in the Allied advancement through France. With the aid of the men and women of the Resistance, the Allies gathered accurate intelligence on the Atlantic Wall, the deployment of German troops, and the capabilities of their enemy. Additionally, the Resistance assisted Allied POWs and downed airmen to escape from enemy controlled territory. The Office of Strategic Services, or OSS, worked closely with the Resistance to help pave the way for major Allied activities in the area. The OSS, which was the precursor to the CIA, conducted clandestine missions throughout Europe supplying weapons, training, and other war making materials to resistance fighters. The OSS also conducted direct attacks on German forces at key areas.
At the conclusion of this lesson, students will be able to
- Describe the role the French Resistance had in the liberation of France;
- Analyze primary documents; and
- Create a Newspaper to help the Resistance recruit new members.
Connections to Common Core
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.9 Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources
Connections to C3 Framework
D2.His.3.9-12. Use questions generated about individuals and groups to assess how the significance of their actions changes over time and is shaped by the historical context.
D2.His.4.9-12. Analyze complex and interacting factors that influenced the perspectives of people during different historical eras.
D2.His.14.9-12. Analyze multiple and complex causes and effects of events in the past.
- Profile of the Resistance Handout
- World War II Interactive Timeline Station Handout
- Primary Document Station Questions Handout
- Vocabulary Station Activity Handout
- Coded Message Station Handout
- Coded Message Station Answer Key
- Resistance Newspaper Activity
- Resistance Newspaper Activity Rubric
- Computer with internet capability to access the ABMC World War II Interactive Timeline
- Review the options below and set up materials for the desired stations.
- Station One - Vocabulary
- Print one Vocabulary Station Activity for each student.
- Station Two - Coded Messages
- Print one Coded Message Station Handout for each group of students.
- Print one Coded Message Station Answer Key to verify student work.
- Station Three - Primary Documents
- Print one Primary Document Station Questions Handout for each student.
- Print two to three primary sources for students to share.
- Station Four - World War II Interactive Timeline
- Print one World War II Interactive Timeline Station Handout for each student.
- Print one copy of the Resistance Newspaper Activity and Resistance Newspaper Activity Rubric for each student.
- Divide students into groups of four students each and arrange desks into distinct table groups.
- Set up classroom technology, if necessary.
- Test all online resources before class.
Activity One: Introducing the Resistance (90 minutes)
- Group students into groups of four to complete station activities.
- Distribute the Profile of the Resistance Handout to each student.
- The teacher can either ask students to read on their own, in their group, or as a class.
- Ask students:
- Have you heard of the French Resistance before?
- Does the French Resistance remind you of other groups in history?
- Do you think that small groups like the Resistance can make a major impact in an occupied country, or are they just a nuisance to the occupying forces?
- Introduce the station activities.
- Teacher Tip: This lesson sets out four station possibilities, choose the stations that best meet the needs of your students. Based on class size, teachers may select to make larger student groups or duplicates of stations. Stations are designed to last 15-25 minutes each (adjust as needed to meet the needs of your students). It is understood that some students will struggle to accomplish these tasks in the time allotted.
- Station One, Vocabulary: Students will define each term and draw a picture to help remember the word. Students will write a brief paragraph using the vocabulary to tie the terms together.
- Station Two, Coded Messages: Teams will decipher a message, construct a response to it, and then recode it.
- Teacher Tip: If desired, groups could leave a message for the next group to decipher. This activity could be timed for speed and accuracy.
- Station Three, Primary Documents: Students will read selected primary accounts, respond to questions, and make predictions.
- Station Four, World War II: A Visual History Interactive Timeline: Students will use the World War II Interactive Timeline from the ABMC to learn about the Normandy, Northern France, and Southern France campaigns.
- Teacher will direct students to wrap up and synthesize material learned at each station.
- Distribute copies of the Resistance Newspaper Activity and Resistance Newspaper Activity Rubric. Decide if students will work alone or in pairs to complete the task.
- Explain that students are going to write an underground newspaper to help recruit new members to the Resistance.
- The final product can be scored using the Resistance Newspaper Activity Rubric.
- Students could research key members of the Resistance and create presentations highlighting important information.
- Students could research other resistance movements in World War II to compare and contrast their actions and impact.
- Students could explore the counter-resistance actions taken by the Vichy French Government and German authorities.
- Students can collaborate with lessons in English or French class to expand lessons learned and to investigate daily life in occupied France.
- The stations can be done as a whole class with the teacher walking students through each step of the process.
- For higher achieving classes, students can become an “expert” at one station. The teacher can then re-adjust the groups so that students can then teach their peers about the station they mastered.