Famous Photographs of the Vietnam War: Images that Influenced Peoples' Opinions About the War

Lesson Author
Required Time Frame
90 minutes (2 X 45 minute bell schedule)
Grade Level(s)
Lesson Abstract
The primary objective for this activity is to provide a medium for students to explore the Vietnam War thorough a multitude of camera lenses and personal experiences.

This is a technology-based presentation on famous photographs of the Vietnam War that can be either individual or group oriented with the writing assignment.

Rationale (why are you doing this?)

The primary objective for this activity is to provide a medium for students to explore the Vietnam War thorough a multitude of camera lenses and personal experiences

Lesson Objectives - the student will
  • Have a background on the history of photography of Vietnam before, during, and after the Vietnam War
  • Witness the emotional issues that people had to deal with during the time of the Vietnam War and the consequences of the war on US psyche today
District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met

Social Studies Show-Me Standards

  • 2. continuity and change in the history of Missouri, the United States and the world
  • 6. relationships of the individual and groups to institutions and cultural traditions
  • 7. the use of tools of social science inquiry (such as surveys, statistics, maps, documents)

KANSAS STANDARDS (High School-US History)

Benchmark 3: The student uses a working knowledge and understanding of individuals, groups, ideas, developments, and turning points in the era of the Cold War (1945-1990).

4. (A) evaluates the foreign policies of Kennedy and Johnson during the Cold War (e.g., Cuban Missile Crisis, Berlin Wall, Vietnam War, Peace Corp).

6. (A) analyzes the cause and effect of the counterculture in the United States (e.g., Sputnik, reaction to the Military Industrial Complex, assassinations of Kennedy and King, draft, Vietnam War, Watergate Scandal).

Benchmark 5: The student engages in historical thinking skills.

3. (A) uses primary and secondary sources about an event in U.S. history to develop a credible interpretation of the event, evaluating on its meaning (e.g., uses provided primary and secondary sources to interpret a historical-based conclusion).

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed
  • The Vietnam War: This website gives a background on the situation of the French in Vietnam and there presence in the country.
  • World’s Famous Photos: I have used several photographs from this website for my presentation. I am listing this under both secondary and primary sources due to the indoctrination of certain photographs that could have been altered.
Primary sources needed (document, photograph, artifact, diary or letter, audio or visual recording, etc.) needed
Technology Required


Vietnam Powerpoint
Fully describe the activity or assignment in detail. What will both the teacher and the students do?
  • Every so often a series of photographs changes the way we look at the world. This session offers a visual representation of the Vietnam War through the lenses of several award-winning photographers. The photos that will be presented captured the essence of the emotionally charged events in the war that triggered a multitude of feelings on the American home front.
  • This lesson is designed to be a presentation/direct instruction with much conversation from both teachers and students.
  • There are 57 slides to this presentation and more can be added or deleted as the presenter sees fit. The goal of this presentation is to take the student through the war through photographs. The teacher should have plenty of questions for discussion that will promote critical thinking. Most of the slides will promote discussion, but there is also a writing activity involved. Please see below for the attached assessment piece.
Assessment: fully explain the assessment method in detail or create and attach a scoring guide

Mr. Werner’s Vietnam Photography Photo Organizer


Which photos received your attention?


Directions: To the left, please describe the #’d photo in your own words. Mr. Werner wants to analyze what photos stood out the most in his presentation. To the right, rank the photos with one being your favorite and ten being your least favorite and explain why in a few words.


                   Description of Photos                                                  Rank               Why?