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This inspirational lesson about student activism in WWII can serve as a catalyst for student activism today


Language Arts, Social Studies  



Title – The War at Home
By – Annette Taser
Primary Subject – Language Arts
Secondary Subjects – Social Studies
Grade Level – 11
Instructional Setting: Whole Class
Student Population: At grade level

Note from This lesson plan is specific to Franklin High School students in Stockton, California, but a great lesson could be learned from their example. This lesson might also spur you or your class to research your school/city’s war efforts.

General Description of Lesson:

    This lesson asks students to reflect on how they might become activists for a cause of pressing importance. Utilizing examples from high school students in Stockton’s historical past and present, students will define issues of importance to them and determine issues that might mobilize them into action.

Cross Curricular Connections:

    This lesson is taught in conjunction with a visit to Stockton California’s Haggin Museum, which features (among many other exhibits) a display of Willy the Jeep. From 1943 to 1945, faculty and students from Stockton High School raised a total of nearly $ 250,000 and paid for 275 jeeps to be donated to the war effort. The Great Jeep Project is a concrete demonstration to students of just how great an impact ordinary citizens had in contributing to the war effort. Students at Franklin High School in Stockton, California, offer a contemporary example of how students can have an impact on the effort to reduce land mines in Cambodia through their Adopt-a-Minefield project. These inspirational, real-life stories can serve as the catalyst for student activism and awareness.


Objective(s) of lesson:

    Students will examine WWII and the ways in which students were mobilized to become activists at Stockton High School in the 1940’s by raising money for army jeeps. Students will also become aware of contemporary student activists at Franklin High School, who are raising money for the reduction of land mines in South East Asia.


      Content Standards Strand/Domain:

        Listening and Speaking , Reading , Writing

      Content Standards:


          2.0 Reading Comprehension (Focus on Informational Materials) –

            2.3 Verify and clarify facts presented in other types of expository texts by using a variety of consumer, workplace, and public documents.


          1.0 Writing Strategies –

            1.1 Demonstrate an understanding of the elements of discourse (e.g., purpose, speaker, audience, form) when completing narrative, expository, persuasive, or descriptive writing assignments.

            1.4 Enhance meaning by employing rhetorical devices, including the extended use of parallelism, repetition, and analogy; the incorporation of visual aids (e.g., graphs, tables, pictures); and the issuance of a call for action.


          11.7.5  Discuss the constitutional issues and impact of events on the U.S. home front…

        11.7.6  Describe the major developments in aviation, weaponry, communication and medicine, and the impact on the location of American industry and use of resources


      Electronic Learning Resource(s): “In 1942, Stockton High School officials started selling stamps and bonds to support the war effort. Sales were slow until one of the instructors came up with a brilliant idea that launched the Great Jeep Project. For very $900 donated by students from lunch money and earnings from odd jobs, the government would credit the school with the purchase of a new jeep. This innovative catalyst spurred donations of close to $250,000 — well over $2.5 million in today’s dollars. Most of the 275 jeeps purchased served in the Pacific theater, but some were used in Europe. Thanks to the efforts of a dedicated group of Stockton High alumni, including Marian Jacobs and Bob and Tom McKeegan, jeep no. 151 returned to Stockton decades later and was donated to The Haggin Museum.” Procedure

Time Required:

    2 class period(s) of 50 minutes, plus additional time during the school year as project dictates.

Materials and Resources used by teachers and students:

  • Stockton Haggin Museum article entitled Stockton High’s Willy the Jeep
  • Primary Source: Stockton Record 1942 article
  • Newsletter article featuring contemporary Franklin High School students’ project to raise funds for land mines.

Preparation for Teacher:

    Visit the Haggin Museum in advance. Arrange a field trip for the class to view the Willy the Jeep exhibit, as well as other exhibits that relate to how Stockton’s local industries converted to produce materials for the Army and Navy. The lesson that follows will follow the field trip.

Step by Step Teacher Procedure:

      Day One:

        1. Begin class with a five-minute free write: What is a cause that you would dedicate time and money toward?

        2. Hold an open class discussion on the social issues or causes students explored in their free write.

        3. Introduce students to the contributions Stockton High School students made to the war efforts during WWII.

        4. Pass out copies of the article about Willy the Jeep, or other primary source material that describes the Great Jeep Project.

        5. Relate the article to contemporary life: What kind of issue would the students feel passionate enough about to raise money for?

        6. Provide examples of contemporary schools (such as Franklin High School) that are working toward making a difference.

        7. As a class, brainstorm a list of topics students would like to volunteer some type of assistance to.

        8. Take a vote to determine the top five issues of concern.

        9. Have students organize into small groups and create a persuasive presentation. The presentation will include designing media (either a flyer, newspaper article, or radio commercial spot, or news feature) that argues the issue and challenges the audience to action.

        10. The media must include a title, five points why this is an important issue (data), a brief paragraph or statement describing or summarizing the issue, and a plan of action.

      Day Two:

        1. The students will present their ideas to the class.

      2. Students will informally evaluate the issues after all the presentations are complete, and determine which issue will become a class project throughout the year.


Assessment Type(s):

    Persuasive Writing/Media Samples, Rubrics

Assessment Plan:

    Students will create a persuasive presentation which will include some form of media: either a flyer, newspaper article, or radio commercial spot that argues the issue and challenges the audience to action. The media must include a title, five points which summarize why this is an important issue (data), a brief paragraph describing the issue, and a plan of action. The rubric will follow the requirements listed above. Once the media is complete, students will present their ideas to the class.

E-Mail Annette Taser, Dana Silva, and Juliann Smith !

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