8th Grade New York


This inquiry is focused on the compelling question “Is protest patriotic?” The question challenges the notion that protest against authority is unpatriotic and asks students to consider whether America’s democratic institutions are strengthened through occasional opposition to American leadership. This inquiry deals with the Vietnam War era (1964–1973), focusing primarily on the national and international challenges America faced during the presidential administrations of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. Students have an opportunity to learn about the reasons for and against the antiwar protests of the Vietnam War era, the methods used to protest the Vietnam War, and the ways in which America’s towns, schools, and families were divided over war policy. In investigating the compelling question, students grapple with issues related to message versus method: Could one agree with the message of antiwar protesters while disdaining the methods of protest? Could one support Nixon’s goal to stem the spread of communism while protesting the bombing of Vietnamese and Cambodian villages? This inquiry challenges students to examine their own views on patriotism and evaluate whether a soldier with a rifle and a protester with a bullhorn can be equally patriotic.


Compelling Question:

Is Protest Patriotic?

Staging the Question:

Students read excerpts from Thomas Paine’s The American Crisis (1776) and use the Question Formulation Technique (QFT) to generate companion questions addressing the inquiry topic.

Supporting Question What were the main arguments of Vietnam War protesters?

Formative Task Create a political, social, and economic chart outlining the arguments used by Vietnam War protesters.

Sources Source A: Data bank: Vietnam War statistics
Source B: My Lai Massacre newspaper front page
Source C: Excerpt from John Kerry’s testimony to the United States Senate
Source D: Image Bank: Escalation into Cambodia


Supporting Question What methods were used to protest the Vietnam War?

Formative Task Create an annotated poster of the methods used to protest the Vietnam War.

Sources Source A: “War”
Source B: Source bank: Vietnam War protests*
Source C: Image bank: Weather Underground


Supporting Question Why did some Americans consider the Vietnam War protesters unpatriotic?

Formative Task Make a claim with evidence about why some Americans considered the Vietnam War protesters unpatriotic.

Sources Source A: “Legislators Demand Stiff Penalties for Dow Chemical Protesters”
Source B: Excerpt from “Address to the Nation on the War in Vietnam”
Source C: Source bank: Hardhat rallies


Supporting Question Why did the Vietnam War protesters consider themselves patriotic?

Formative Task Make a counterclaim about why some Americans considered the Vietnam War protesters patriotic.

Sources Source A: Excerpt from “Naming the System”
Source B: Excerpt from "A Time to Break Silence”

Summative Performance Task

Argument: Is protest patriotic? Construct an argument (e.g., detailed outline, poster, essay) that addresses the compelling question using specific claims and relevant evidence from historical sources while acknowledging competing views.
Extension: Adapt these arguments by rewriting the lyrics to a popular song to address the compelling question while also referring to specific details and evidence from the featured sources.

Taking Informed Action

Understand: Examine the present-day involvement of the US military in a conflict overseas.
Assess: Analyze the arguments of those opposed to the action and the patriotism of their actions against US military involvement overseas.
Act: Using assorted media platforms, design and create a presentation that conveys support or opposition to America’s current military involvement overseas.