Teacher Voice

Until They All Come Home: Locating and Identifying Missing Service Members

I used the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) activity “Until They All Come Home: Locating and Identifying Missing Service Members” in an eleventh grade US II classroom with one computer and a document projector, to see how this activity could be adapted for classes with limited technology resources. In a fitting twist, on the day of the lesson our classroom Internet failed—using the document projector and my smartphone I presented the photos, map, and DPAA video (backup plan!). I put students into groups; group members divided the questions on the DPAA FAQ worksheet and the Pre-Mission report for their assigned soldier. These questions were completed for homework.

On day two I started class with a local news story about a Tuskegee Airman who may have been located by the DPAA (identification is ongoing). Students discussed this family’s perspective on the work of the DPAA, and the closure that work can provide.

Next, I gave each group a large (12 x 18) piece of paper, a print out of the DPAA article on their assigned soldier, and access to the one classroom computer, which I had open to the ABMC homepage. Students used these resources and their homework findings to create an infographic. Each group took turns and sent two students to look up their soldier on the ABMC site; students added this information, plus the information culled from the article, to their infographics.

Due to time constraints, the infographic took the place of oral presentations. Students finished the lesson with a short written reflection on the DPAA’s mission and what this work reveals about American ideals/identity. While challenging with only one computer, this activity gave students a completely different and valuable perspective on World War II that they had not really considered before.