Lesson Plan 1:

Teaching with Duty to Country

This resource guide overviews the key elements of the online exhibit and includes ideas to get your students to explore the exhibit’s contents and make meaning of the larger story of Filipino veterans. The full Duty to Country curriculum includes four lesson plans on key historical moments: the colonial period, World War II, the establishment of an independent Philippines and the passage of the Rescission Act, and the activist movement to restore veterans’ benefits. It also features 10 explainers built around primary sources, maps and infographics that help students make sense of this long history.

Summary

This resource guide overviews the mix of  interviews, primary sources, animations and illustrations, videos and profile cards found on the Duty to Country website and in the Under One Flag exhibit and includes suggestions for how to teach with them.

US History, World History, Asian American Studies, Civics/Government | Middle School, High School | Time to Teach Varies

Subjects

  • U.S. History (middle school and high school), including U.S. empire, the U.S. in World War II, Asian immigration and Asian American experience, civil rights and activism
  • World History, including imperialism, World War II, and twentieth century independence movements
  • Asian American Studies, including Filipino immigration, community formation, emergence of Asian American identity and activist movements
  • Civics/Government, including roles of citizens to make change, the legislative process, and diversity in American life

Under One Flag is an online exhibit tells the story of two nations—the United States and the Philippines. It is the untold history of Filipinos’ sacrifice and patriotism during World War II, and their decades-long quest for recognition and justice after the war. Under One Flag is part of Duty to Country, which includes oral histories and interviews with veterans, activists, historians and government officials engaged in the long fight for Filipino veterans’ benefits. Under One Flag and Duty to Country are a project of the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project. 

This resource guide overviews the key elements of the online exhibit and includes ideas to get your students to explore the exhibit’s contents and make meaning of the larger story of Filipino veterans. The full Duty to Country curriculum includes four lesson plans on key historical moments: the colonial period, World War II, the establishment of an independent Philippines and the passage of the Rescission Act, and the activist movement to restore veterans’ benefits. It also features 10 explainers built around primary sources, maps and infographics that help students make sense of this long history. 

The mix of interviews, primary sources, animations and illustrations, videos and profile cards provide many different entry points into the history and themes of Duty to Country. Below are some suggestions for how to use these resources in the classroom.

Resource What Is It? Teaching Ideas
Under One Flag Exhibit

Over four chapters, this dynamic online exhibit traces the story from the emergence of Filipino nationalism in the 1890s to the presentation of Congressional Gold Medals to surviving World War II benefits in 2017.

Chapter 1: Colonial Period (1892-1930s)

Chapter 2: The Crucible of War (1934-1945)

Chapter 3: Promises Made, Promises Broken (1946)

Chapter 4: The Long Road to Equity (1946-2017)

The exhibit narrative provides a concise overview of four historical moments: U.S. imperialism in the Philippines, World War II in the Philippines, the establishment of an independent Philippine republic in 1946 and its continuing relationship with the U.S., and the activist movement to restore veterans’ benefits. One or more chapters can be assigned as part of units on imperialism, World War II, post-war U.S. foreign policy, world history after WWII, and/or civil rights activism.
The lesson plan “Filling in the Picture” asks students to select primary sources from the exhibit that add context to or complicate the meaning of the exhibit illustrations. This strategy can be used to have students read and synthesize any of the other chapters.
Ask students to synthesize the exhibit by writing an op-ed (about 800 words) explaining why Americans should care about Filipino veterans. Students can use tips from the Op-Ed Project to structure their op-ed.
Oral Histories The Duty to Country website includes 18 interviews with Filipino veterans, legislators and activists. Each interview includes a full-length video, clips on key themes, and a transcript. See below for more information about oral history subjects and themes. 
  1. Have students select one of the oral histories and listen to the full interview. Students should summarize the contents of the interview and then reflect on what this person’s account adds to our understanding of the struggle for Filipino veteran benefits. Does the account contradict other sources, including government documents? Does the account add a missing point of view? Does it add complexity or nuance? Ask students to compare the oral history to the narrative of the Under One Flag exhibit and see if they find places where the interview shaped the exhibition. 
  2. Have students collect an oral history. We recommend designing an initiative around one or more of the key themes of Duty to Country: military service, immigration, or activism. Students should identify a veteran, an immigrant or an activist (or maybe someone in more than one category!) and prepare 8-12 questions that take their life history, focusing on their military service, their migration to the U.S., or their involvement in an activist cause, depending on their identity. Have students edit their oral histories into a short podcast or video to share with the class. If students plan to share their interviews publicly, oral history interviewees should sign a release.
Animations & Illustrations

The site includes 10 short (1-3 minutes) animations that bring to life exciting moments from the oral histories. It also includes 19 distinctive artistic renderings that illustrate each chapter of the exhibit.

Animations Gallery

Illustrations Gallery

  1. Both the animations and illustrations lend themselves to a discussion of how secondary historical sources draw upon primary sources to present an argument about the importance and meaning of an historical event. You can lead students in unpacking this dynamic by paying close attention to details (style, imagery, perspective, and in the case of animations, soundscape and narration) in one of the animations or illustrations, and how it relates to the primary source(s) surrounding it. For animations, students can compare to the recorded interview or transcripts in order to discuss how the animator synthesized the source document.  After unpacking one illustration/animation together, ask students to select another in the exhibit and write up their own analysis.  A good teaching example is “Cauldron of War” which illustrates the opening shots of the U.S.-Philippines War; compare to the historical photograph in the exhibit of the American soldier recreating the moment he opened fire on Filipino guerrillas. What’s the difference in perspective? How does the change in perspective change the viewer’s interpretation of what’s happening, or the stakes of the moment?
  2. The illustrations in Under One Flag purposely present Filipinos in a heroic light, part of making the argument that the U.S. was unjustified in its denial of Filipino veterans’ benefits given the U.S.’s promises and the heroism with which Filipinos fought in World War II. There are also clear style references to WWII-era propaganda posters. Ask students to consider whether the illustrations in the exhibit might be considered a form of propaganda.
Historian Interviews Historians Chris Cappozola and Colleen Woods provide context and analysis for U.S. imperialism in the Philippines, World War II in the Philippines, Filipino immigration to the U.S. and the long activist movement to secure veterans’ benefits.
  1. Use clips from the interviews to introduce Explainers or Lesson Plans. See “Confronting U.S. Imperialism in the Philippines” lesson plan for an example.  
  2. Assign students to watch one of the full interviews outside of class and summarize the historian’s key points. (For college-bound students, use this activity to practice how to take notes during lecture.)
Archival Photos, Footage, & Documents The exhibit includes more than 200 primary sources that reveal key moments in the history of the US-Philippines relationship. 
  1. Photos of Filipinos and Filipino Americans with the American flag abound throughout the exhibit. Ask each student to select one and explain to the class who created it and for what purpose, what’s happening in the photo, and how it relates to the larger history, drawing on the materials in the exhibit. Or have students compare and contrast two different flag images.  
  2. Have students cull the exhibit to find laws and official decisions (proclamations, orders, etc.). Assign each to a student to research further (including finding the full text), analyzing its causes and effects. Then build a class timeline of legislative and executive actions, with students explaining their piece of the history.
  3. Have students each select a primary source and write a headnote and focus questions for it, modeled on Explainers. Then, in small groups, have students teach their Explainers to each other.
Videos # short videos combine archival footage, excerpts of documentaries and narration. Have students select an aspect of the story that isn’t featured in a video and create their own using simple editing software (or storyboarding). To complete the activity, students will need to find other archival footage and documents, cut clips from oral histories or interviews, and write and record the narration. Like the ones in the exhibit, each video should be 1-3 minutes long; as an example you might start by having students watch the overview “Duty to Country” video.
Profile Cards

30 profile cards feature important people in the exhibit. Each includes a portrait ringed by symbols related to different aspects of their identity and contributions, as well as a biographical sketch and summary of their role in history. 

Profile Cards

  1. Have students select a card and decode the symbols surrounding the person’s portrait, including how each relates to the person’s identity and contributions. For individuals whose oral histories are included in the Duty to Country archive, students can look for connections between their interviews and the design of their cards. 
  2. Ask students to analyze the style of illustration. What references does the artist draw upon? How do the artist’s choices convey the role of each person, positively or negatively? 
  3. Working independently or in pairs, have students select two profile cards at random and imagine a dialogue between them. What would they talk about? Where would they agree and where would they disagree? 
  4. Have students research, write and design profile cards for key figures for another unit, based on the style of the Under One Flag cards. 
  5. Have students select a profile card, research his or her life, write a 2-5 page biography assessing that person’s significance.