Teacher Voice

Hit the Ground Running: Escape and Evasion behind Enemy Lines

“Hit the Ground Running: Escape and Evasion behind Enemy Lines” provides a creative way to teach students about the role of paratroopers in World War II as well as the dangers they faced in doing their duty. Students enjoyed using the chance cards that guided them through the duties of the paratroopers. The lesson was interactive, keeping students moving and allowing them to confer with their peers. Primary sources allowed students to get a sense of the experiences of a paratrooper as well as the materials that these men used to fulfill their roles.

Students were immediately hooked with the “Escape and Evasion Prediction Sheet” that required them to listen to the teacher introduction and make an inference on what a paratrooper may have needed for their mission. As the lesson dictates, I encouraged my students to read some of their responses aloud. We had a lot of fun seeing what others listed that others did not think to mention. The newsreel clip added a short primary source to the hook and was the right length to keep the lesson moving. It was the perfect link to the writing prompt. The Chance Cards and the artifacts were the key to keeping student interest levels up throughout the lesson. Students were engaged and competitive in completing the activity. It did take some major monitoring to ensure that the groups followed the directions to keep the activity a teaching tool. The positioning of the notes was perfect, again keeping the flow of the lesson intact.

If the teacher can locate and purchase some of the artifacts (like the clicker and the Benzedrine sulfate pills, translation cards), the lesson would be more hands-on that it already is. The final writing activity did not go over as well as I wanted it to go. If I were to teach this lesson again, I would tie in some of the extension activities that ask students to explore the Escape and Evasion reports available online from the National Archives and Records Administration and use them as a DBQ short essay.