World War II Curriculum/L.A.


Language Arts WWII curriculum using Alan’s letters

The following LANGUAGE ARTS Curriculum Tie-Ins are State of Massachusetts Standards.

Similar National Language Arts Standards can be used.


Learning Standard 3:

(9-10)  Analyze a group of historical speeches, including FDR’s fireside chats, and Winston Churchill’s speeches from London.  

    Also find General Patton’s speeches to his soldiers by an internet search. 

    How do you think Alan would have reacted to the above speeches if/when he listened to them?

    Project: What phrases does Alan use in his letters that were popular at that era? Are they still used to day? What are the common equivalents of that slang today? How often do slang patterns change? What promotes the change?


    “Analyze the structure and elements of biographical or other nonfictional works...”      “Analyze, explain and evaluate how authors use the elements of nonfiction to achieve their purposes”.

    “Locate and analyze such elements as point of view, foreshadowing, and irony.”

    Whose point of view is represented throughout most of the book? Why does the point of view change? How does this enhance, or detract from the first person writing?

    Analyze the first-person writing. How does the voice of the main character change from the beginning to the end? Do you think the writer, Alan, was aware of this when he wrote the letters? Why, or why not?

    Find an instance of foreshadowing. How does this prepare the reader for the ending?

    Can you find an instance of irony? Was this important to the story?

    After analyzing the structure of this book, determine what you think is the author’s purpose for publishing the content. What do you know about the soldier? How do you know this?; Give an example of being told something about him; give an example of inferring something about him. Write a short biography of Alan, or another soldier from your own family, elaborating on the most interesting part of his life.

    Project: Choose another text book account of the same historical time period: Summer of 1944, in World War II France. Compare and contrast Alan’s Letters with the other texts for information (use non-fiction historical texts, or other personal memoirs, such as “Dear Sgt. Honey”, which follows the same geographical path. How does each book reflect “the periods, the ideas, and outlooks of a people living in a particular time in history?” 

The Dramatic Arts: (Learning Standard 18)

    “Demonstrate understanding of the functions of playwright, director, technical designer, and actor by writing, directing, designing, and/or acting in an original play”.

    Students  can stage a readers theatre, by taking turns reading Alan’s letters in sequence. Students can create simple surroundings that enhance the theatre experience for the audience. Actors should discuss and explore the mood and character of voice they are portraying before the recitation of their letter.

      Students could write their own script from the book, or use the script as presented by the author.


    Learning Standard 20: “Students will select and use appropriate genres, modes of reasoning, and speaking styles when writing for different audiences and rhetorical purposes.”

    “Students are asked to interview a grandparent or senior citizen about his or her experiences during World War II, and then write an analytical essay describing their informant’s attitude toward Roosevelt’s handling of the war or the news of the invasion of Normandy.” Students can find pictures or objects to illustrate the writing in book, poster, or power point presentations.

    Learning Standard 23: “Students use self-generated questions, note-taking, summarizing, precis writing, and outlining to enhance learning when reading or writing.”

    Student should choose one topic of curiosity introduced in the text or a side-bar of Alan’s Letters, and ask questions about the topic.  For example: how many soldiers in the front lines of the infantry wore glasses? Was this common? What practical problems could arise from this? How were optometry services supplied to men out of the United States? What were the medical consequences for the U.S. population at large after the war?

    Other topics might include: the history of military camps; the life and care of German POW’s; effect of cigarette smoking on military personnel, etc..

    Learning Standard 24: “Students will use open-ended questions, different sources of information, and appropriate research methods to gather information for their research projects.”

    Students can select their own soldier known to him or her, and through many primary sources in the Nation’s Archives, and libraries, find as much information as possible about the Veteran’s military experience. Interviews, primary source documents, video tapes, and historical texts (some on-line) should all be included.


    Using Google earth, take a virtual tour of the trail of the 5th Division across France. 

    Find as many stopping places along the north of France as possible through research. Put village or city names in sequence, along with dates when the soldiers stayed, or passed through each town. Using technology, create a map giving the path of the 5th Infantry Division. 

    Interpret the findings: Understand when the soldiers mobilized quickly; when they stayed somewhere for more then a day; Why did this happen? What effect did this have on the enemy? On the soldier- both physically and mentally?

    PROJECT: Extend the Interactive Journey on either end of the timeline:

-Create a timeline of Alan’s time in the United States, from the beginning of “Alan’s Letters” until his departure for Europe.

-Complete the military journey of the 5th Division in WWII as it progressed from iceland, through ireland and England, across France, then Germany, Luxembourg,to Czechoslovakia in 1945.

    “Students compare how newspapers, radio, and television cover the same event, noting how the words, sounds, images are used in each medium...Analyze the impression each creates on the viewer, listener, or reader.”

    Compare how the date of November 10, 1944 would have been noted by the U.S. Stars and Stripes newspaper, in a report by the Commanders of the 10th Infantry Regiment, General Patton, and finally, Alan’s family.  Include a radio announcement also, of the event.

Depending on the point of view, how is each view reflected in the report?

    Learning Standard 26: “ Students will obtain information by using a variety of media and evaluate the quality of material they obtain.”

    “A student, focusing on America’s entrance to WWII, finds and listens to a CD-Rom of FDR’s Fireside chats. Also, student finds texts of copies of speeches to Congress after the declaration of war with Japan. The students is aware of the varying emphasis different media give to aspects of Roosevelt’s presidency.”

    PROJECT: Research the music and radio shows of the era. What patterns of speech are identified? What phrases of speech were popular? Identify how newscasts were used for propaganda, to mobilize a nation. Put together a radio show that would be typical of the era; include a political message that would be beneficial to the United States, a news item about the progress of WWII, a sponsor (an advertisement) and a music program. 

    PROJECT: Before main feature films were shown, several “short newsreels” about the war were shown to WWII moviegoers. After studying several of these, have a production class write the script for an event in Alan’s Letters. Film it in black and white; use speech patterns from the era. How different are these newsreels compared to those we see from war zones on the nightly news?


            “ I am an 8th  grade Social Studies teacher that received a copy of Alan’s Letters from my department head .. .  I will be utilizing the book of Alan’s Letters for Veteran’s Day. The book is a great primary resource, so my students will be analyzing the letters and then filling out a written document analysis sheet for each letter they read.  After we discuss the letters I will have them complete a writing prompt which we will then use to create a Wall of Peace using their writings shaped as bricks.  Thank you very much for the insightful book as it will be a great classroom resource to utilize.”

 Regards,  L. R.,  2010

© 2012