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Introduction to The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien.

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1 Introduction to The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

2 Who is Tim O’Brien? Born October 1, 1946, in Austin, Minnesota Raised in Worthington, a small prairie town in the southern part of MN Mother was an elementary school teacher Father was an insurance salesman and sailor in World War II Attended Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota Good grades Student body president Sometimes attended peace vigils and protests against the burgeoning war in Vietnam. Graduated in 1968 with a B.A. in political science and thought of becoming a writer DRAFTED– "even getting on the plane for boot camp, I couldn't believe any of it was happening to me, someone who hated Boy Scouts and bugs and rifles."

3 War Experience 1969 to 1970—foot soldier with the 46th Infantry in Quang Ngai province. For some of that time he was stationed in My Lai, just one year after the infamous My Lai Massacre. Sent home with a Purple Heart when he got hit with shrapnel in a grenade attack.

4 Writing Memoir—If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home published in 1973 during his graduate studies in government at Harvard University. Later wrote for the Washington Post Newspaper Returned to writing books full- time

5 His Perspective on Truth “What we see accurately with our eyes can sometimes be very deceptive. We don't see everything. No historian can fit into a textbook the thoughts of every single soldier in every single war and every single episode. Much is being selected and generalized. So in The Things They Carried, I'm trying to get at this sense of how difficult it is to pin down the truth with a capital "T." In a way, it's a warning against absolutism, against black and white declarations of what's true and what's not true. So part of the effort is trying to display through fiction the ambiguous, blurry, complicated, grayish fog of even the most plainly historical events.” Source: http://www.neabigread.org/books/thethingstheycarried/readers-guide/about-the-author/

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8 How closely are you connected to the Vietnam War?

9 Take out a piece of notebook paper Write down all the things you carry What do you carry every day in school? What do you carry in the summer? What do you have to bring to work? What things do you carry that are very visible to the world? What things are more hidden? What things are totally invisible, that is, abstract or symbolic? What do others make you carry? What things do you carry that you’d like to put down? Tuesday, 4/14

10 Reviewing your list 1.Give each item an estimated weight What is heavy for one person might be light for another Intangible objects need weights, too 2.Decide on categories for the items on your list. Sort every item on the list into a category. You may categorize any way you wish. Here are some ideas. You can use these if you want, but you don’t have to. Necessities Luxuries Things I Love Concrete Things Abstract Things Things That Make Me ME Things I Wish I Could Put Down 3.Start reading “The Things They Carried” Wednesday, 4/15

11 While you listen/read… Jot down everything O’Brien says the soldiers carried + weight. Hint—the first thing on your list is letters from Martha (Jimmy Cross) (10 oz) If you miss something, it’s OK. We’ll discuss together after reading the story. Don’t ask those around you for help while we’re listening/reading. It’s distracting! Wednesday, 4/15

12 Assignment We need exactly 10 groups. Once you have your topic, complete the following: On a notecard, write the following about what that person (or group) carried: On the FRONT: the item in large writing (in the middle) and weight ONLY IF GIVEN character/group name (top left corner) page number (in the bottom right corner) On the BACK: the category assigned to the item by Tim O’Brien, or a category you assign it if one isn’t given The number of cards you will have depends on your assigned character/group Thursday, 4/16-Friday, 4/17 Lt. Jimmy Cross Letters from Martha 4 oz 1 Category:________ Sample: Front Sample: Back Only record it if the item follows the words “_____ carried…”

13 Groups 1.Lt Jimmy Cross 2.Dave Jensen AND Mitchell Sanders 3.Norman Bowker AND Kiowa 4.Henry Dobbins AND Rat Kiley 5.Lee Strunk AND Ted Lavender 6.“They”/everyone pages 1-5 7.“They”/everyone pages 6-10 8.“They”/everyone pages 11-15 9.“They”/everyone pages 16-20 10.“They”/everyone pages 21-26

14 End of Class Directions Get a paperclip and clip your cards together. Hand them to Mrs. Dragavon. We’ll finish this tomorrow Due Friday: Vocab squares Vocab quiz

15 Finish Cards You have 5 minutes If you think you’re done, make sure each card has: Name of item Weight if given in text Character name Page number CATEGORY ON THE BACK

16 Procedure Together Sort your cards into the categories you’ve created. Be prepared to share them back with the whole class. List all existing categories on the board Do these categories cover everything your group has found? If not, what should we add? Eliminate duplicates Your group may need to recategorize to make your items fit Then tape your card to the correct piece of paper Friday, 4/17

17 Directions Working as a team, categorize all your cards into their categories. Tape them face up (so the ITEM is showing). MAKE SURE YOU ARE USING ONLY POSTERS FOR YOUR CLASS PERIOD. When you are done, make sure you have looked at all the posters for your class period. READ all the cards and look at how they are categorized. YOU NEED OUT A PIECE OF NOTEBOOK PAPER AND A PEN (OR PENCIL) Monday, 4/20

18 Exit Slip On a piece of notebook paper (with a heading), reflect on the work we’ve done in a thoughtful paragraph. Here are some questions to help focus your response, but you SHOULD NOT respond to these questions in order. These are just to help spark your thinking. What do you notice about the items and the categories? How does this affect your understanding of who the soldiers are and the experiences they endured? In what ways does it help you to understand them better? What new understanding do you have of soldiers who fought in Vietnam? What new ideas or questions do you have about the war as a result of our work? EXPECTATIONS: 8-10 sentences and/or half page-ish. About 5-10 min of writing. WHEN YOU ARE DONE: Put it in the green folder. Due today. Monday, 4/20

19 “Love” and “Spin” At the end of our reading of these two chapters, answer one of the following questions: What is the author trying to say about: War? Soldiers? People in general? Copy the question you chose and then answer by completing the sentence: “The author is trying to say that war is…” OR “The author is trying to say that soldiers are…”OR “The author is trying to say that people are…” Then find textual evidence for your idea (doesn’t have to be a quote, but must be specific). In other words: How do you know this is what the author is is trying to say? Give specific examples. Then explain what you think the author means or wants to communicate. How do your examples lead you to this conclusion? Finally, discuss what the text leaves uncertain. What questions do you still have about the author’s ideas? Explain. Tuesday, 4/21 This should be written as one continuous, paragraph response. Length: Minimum half page/8-10 sentences

20 “How to Tell a True War Story” Form a group of three. You need three (whole) pieces of notebook paper for your group. Today we will brainstorm about and discuss the concepts of love and war so we can apply them to the book The Things We Carried. If you are absent for group work, you are completing all brainstorms and questions by yourself. Thursday, 4/30

21 “How to Tell a True War Story” Brainstorm #1: On the top of ONE of the pieces of paper, write the word WAR. Then brainstorm a list of things (concrete or abstract) that you think of when you think of the word War. You have three minutes. Be ready to share. Brainstorm #2: On the top of ANOTHER of the pieces of paper, write the word LOVE. Then brainstorm a list of things (concrete or abstract) that you think of when you think of the word Love. You have three minutes. Be ready to share. Question #1: Label the 3 rd piece of paper GROUP WORK. Discuss as a group the ways in which the two ideas (love and war) differ. Take notes (bullet points) on your observations. Be prepared to share. Thursday, 4/30

22 “How to Tell a True War Story” Question #2: Discuss as a group the ways in which the two ideas (love and war) are the SAME. Take notes on your observations. Be prepared to share. WATCH: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4EV7w1Zxawhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4EV7w1Zxaw Discuss the following questions. Document your ideas on the third piece of notebook paper. 3. How is love defined in the video? What are some qualities of love according to the video? 4. How does the definition of love compare to the ideas that you recorded earlier in this session? 5. How are the ideas of love and war linked in the video? 6. How does the relationship between the two ideas compare to the connections you noticed before viewing the video? Thursday, 4/30

23 “How to Tell a True War Story” End of Group Work: Staple the three pages of work together. Make sure all group member names (first and last!) are on the top paper. Turn your work into the green folder. Due Thursday, 4/30 Thursday, 4/30

24 “How to Tell a True War Story” Read/Listen to “How to Tell a True War Story” Friday, 5/1

25 “How to Tell a True War Story” Watch video (review): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5faJvIuOrU https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5faJvIuOrU With a partner, discuss the following question. Document your answer on notebook paper (1 paper for both of you). Be prepared to share. 1. How does the speaker communicate the beauty of war in “How to Tell a True War Story”? List and cite at least two specific passages from the story that demonstrate beauty in war. Watch video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHTxdsxmp1w (you have to use FireFox for this video to work)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHTxdsxmp1w With your same partner, discuss the following question. Document your answer on notebook paper (1 paper for both of you). Be prepared to share. 2. How does the speaker communicate the love of soldiers for one another and for the unit in “How to Tell a True War Story”? List and cite at least two specific passages from the story that show love of the unit and love of fellow soldiers. Monday, 5/4

26 “How to Tell a True War Story” “It wasn’t a war story. It was a love story. ” 3. With your partner, discuss what the speaker means by this line. How the story is a love story rather than a war story? How does truth play into whether the story is a war story or a love story? Monday, 5/4


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