Uncle Sam Wants You!

Online Lesson Plan
Uncle Sam Wants You!

lrGuyLesson Plan by , Assistant Professor in Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education at UNL and a Co-Director of the Great Plains Institute for Reading and Writing. He is affiliated with the elementary education program as well as the UNL literacy group. He received his PhD in 2002 in Education from the University of California Riverside.



Subject Area:
Social Studies & Reading
Suggested Grade Level:
Grades 9-12
Learning Modality:
Visual Learners
Multiple Intelligence:
Intrapersonal Intelligence
Bloom’s Taxonomy:
What are these educational concepts?What are these educational concepts?



lrRead_0101The student will:

  • standards02Achieve an understanding of the different perspectives toward participation in WWII.
  • Research a specific attitude towards the war.
  • Discuss the results of their research with their peers.
  • Write a 8-10 page fictional personal narrative based on the research and peer-group discussions.



This is an object lesson in human understanding. The students are asked to listen to four real-life stories about the WWII draft and recruitment campaign and its effects on the young men and women of the time.

This, in combination with other research, will allow them to form an opinion about joining the war effort and to create a fictitious personal narrative that both reflects their research and their real personal opinions regarding service.

The Resources

Links from within the Wessels Living History Farm site. [Note that clicking on these links will open a new browser window. Just close it and you’ll be back to this page.] Direct the students to these pages.


jukeboxSmEnlistments & the Draft

Conscientious Objectors

Link from outside Wessels. The National Archives has President Roosevelts original draft of the “Day of Infamy” Speech calling for the nation to go to war. [http://www.archives.gov/digital_classroom/lessons/day_of_infamy/day_of_infamy.html]


The Process

Ask the students what, in their opinion, is the purpose of war. The students should consider the prospect of a “good” or “just” war and what, if anything, would be worth fighting for. Given the current world situation, discuss with the students how life can be disrupted by military service and how service can induce a sense of pride and citizenship. [In discussions about current events, preface by stressing the importance of respecting other viewpoints and tolerance, as well as what it means to be a good audience.]

Have the students listen to Pres. Roosevelt’s “Day of Infamy” speech (see above link) and discuss focusing on its use as a call-to-arms. Ask the students to write down how they would have responded to this call.

Students should read the assigned pages and listen to the assigned clips. Based on what they read and hear, the students should create a rough draft for a paper that includes main ideas and supporting details that cover one of the four following perspectives: Eager to join, conscientious objector, reluctant to join, or African American.

The students will then create an 8-10 page paper in one of the following personal narrative formats:

  • Personal diary (spanning a series of days/weeks)
  • A series of letters either to a friend/family or to the draft board
  • A fictional autobiography
  • Short story that is written in the first person

The students should concentrate their narratives on ideas and details that give the reader a clear understanding of the writer’s opinions about war, military service, and what it means to be a good citizen in the context of WWII.

As small groups (4-5 persons) the students should workshop each of their rough drafts, providing one another constructive feedback.


Learning Advice

This lesson should be stretched over at least two class periods to provide time for adequate research (which may go beyond the resources presented here) and to allow for comprehensive draft workshops. Final papers should be completed as homework.


Conclusion of the Lesson

As a culminating activity the teacher should select good examples of papers written from each of the four perspectives and ask that the students present their work to the class.

The class can then discuss how their perspectives have changed (if at all) from the first assignment – their response to President Roosevelt’s “Day of Infamy” speech.


Assessment Activity

Students will collect all notes and drafts into a portfolio to accompany the final 8-10 page fictional personal narrative paper. Evaluate the progress from notes/first draft to final outcome. Use either your established writing assessment rubrics or consider the following key aspects: authenticity of voice, clarity of main ideas, coherence and flow of text, richness of vocabulary, and appropriate use of writing conventions (i.e., spelling and punctuation).


General Notes

If time and resources permit, students should be encouraged to seek supplementary information both on-line and in printed media.


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