Lesson Plan: Overview

Social Effects of WWII on SC (Pt. 2)

Grade Level: 5th

Academic Standards

Standard 5-4: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the economic boom-and-bust in America in the 1920’s and 1930’s, its resultant political instability, and the subsequent worldwide response.

Indicator 5-4-5:Summarize the political and social impact of World War II, including changes in women’s roles, in attitudes toward Japanese Americans, and in nation-state boundaries and governments.
Indicator 5-4-6:Summarize key developments in technology aviation, weaponry, and communication and explain their effect on World War II and the economy of the United States.
Social Studies Literacy Elements

A. Distinguish between past, present and future time.

K. Use text, photographs, and documents to observe and interpret social studies trends and relationships.

O. Consider multiple perspectives of documents and stories.

Essential Questions:

How will a personal interview and presentation from a WWII Veteran enhance the student’s ability to design a presentation of the social effects of WWII on South Carolina?

How well was South Carolina military personnel prepared for battle?

Historical Background Notes

There is no way that any of our students can understand the emotion or anguish that the soldiers of World War II felt.  We cannot physically transport them to the battlefield or deliver them a letter telling them a member of their family has been killed or missing.  We can, however, transport their minds to those places.  If we are strong teachers, we can do it with texts, props, videos, audio, etc.  However, as I have found out, there is nothing better than hearing it from someone who has actually lived it.  Both of my grandparents were involved in World War II.  They were both in the marines and my grandfather enlisted and trained in South Carolina before he served in combat. 

Margaret Lee Dudley Gambrell was born in Charleston, South Carolina on September 15, 1920.  She was twenty-four when she joined the service.  She joined the Marine Corps Women Reserves in Washington, D.C.  She trained in Camp Legune in North Carolina where she was required to learn about all weapons and how to use them.  “I thought it was very interesting because we didn’t fight in battles (Gambrell,Margaret 2007).”

Women not only worked in factories, they entered into the military. “Even within the military, which enlisted substantial numbers of women, most female work was clerical (Brinkley 2005.)”  According to U. S. Marine Charles William Gambrell Sr., a popular slogan to recruit women into the marines was “Be a marine, free a marine to fight.”  By working in offices and doing clerical work, they allowed every free male to fight in combat. 

Charles William Gambrell, Sr. was born in Anderson County, South Carolina on January 2, 1922.  He attended high school in Greenville and then moved to Columbia.  At the age of 19, my grandfather enlisted in the Marine Corps to fight in World War II.  After the war, he became a federal magistrate and held his job until retirement.  Even today he remembers his war experience.

He talked about how the United States, even here in Columbia, had divided opinions about the European war.  Some supported it, and some wanted to stay out of it.  “Besides, out army was in no way prepared to fight a global war,” he said.  To illustrate the point, he told me of a time when he observed the army being unprepared.  “I was around 16 old 17 years old, and my friends and I went down to Camp Jackson, now Fort Jackson, to watch the men train.  I saw with my own eyes how unready we really were.  The men would have broomsticks in the field, pretending they were tripods.  On top of the sticks, there were signs representing machine guns.  We didn’t even have the materials with which to train!”

“Most Carolinians remembered where they were when they learned the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor (Edgar 1998.)”  My grandfather said it was an early afternoon in Columbia on Sunday, December 7, 1941.  He was throwing a football with a kid that lived in his neighborhood when it happened.  His brother can out of the house and said, “But, the Japs have gone crazy! They’ve bombed Pearl Harbor!”  At 4:30 P. M., that day, when Columbia radio stations announced that all recruiting stations were open, he went to recruit immediately, even though the draft age at that time was 21.  He drove downtown to wait in the longest line he had ever seen.  The line started near the State House on Main Street down the Lady Street, all the way along Lady until Sumter Street, and five blocks down Sumter.  The line had rows of at least three men. 

He trained in Paris Island in late 1941 for an accelerated version of boot camp.  When asked if he felt if he had been properly trained, my grandfather responded, “Probably not, but we had to go anyway.”  In May of 1942, he left for the South Pacific and by June, he arrived in New Zealand where he was told he would train until 1943.  Two days later, he left for the Guadalcanal where Allied spies had discovered that the Japanese were constructing an airfield.  He fought for seven more months before the mosquitoes got to him and he developed malaria fever and was sent home (Gambrell. Charles 2007.) 

Being able to experience the war through the eyes of those who lived it is amazing.  By allowing the students to listen, talk, and ask questions to veterans who have been there, it becomes more real.  Our World War II veterans are a dying breed.  Passing on information through the generations will keep experiences and memories alive.


1. Presenting Veterans
2. Interview questions formulated from students during pre-visit lesson
3. SMARTboard
4. Paper, pencils for note taking
Primary Sources
South Carolina State Development Board. Research, Planning and Development Board. “Table 1: Postwar Plans of Men in Service.” In South Carolina Servicemen After the War. 1945, 9. Published Materials Division, South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina.
Secondary Sources
Stockton, Robert. South Carolina: An Illustrated History of the Palmetto State. Northridge, CA: Windsor Publication, 1988.
Walker, Melissa. Country Women Cope with Hard Times Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2004

Lesson Plans

1. Pre-visit the students will watch a brief video from ETV.Streamline Introduce Unit with short video clip from ETV.Streamline titled American History: World War II: Causes and Consequences: Women &WWII (3:56)
2. Students will formulate questions they would like to know about the presenters.
3. Presentation from Veterans/ student questioning
4.Students will write a brief summary and put with notes for final Photostory presentation.

Teacher Reflections

When I was first recruited to take the TAHSC class in the summer of 2006, I was very apprehensive.  After all, I had not yet started my first year of teaching and was very self-conscious about my level of content knowledge in history.  However, I was pleasantly surprised at the results the class had on my teaching.  I came into my first year of teaching with confidence in my content knowledge, ideas for lesson plans, and a plethora of primary sources to utilize in my classroom.

I do not think we could have had a better master scholar.  Paul Anderson’s teaching style was a great fit for me.  Coming into this class with very little content knowledge, I was worried I would not understand the information or that the master scholar would move to quickly.  Paul went at an excellent pace and was very willing and able to answer any questions I had.  His enthusiasm for history made me more excited and this carried over into my teaching.  This coupled with the text The Unfinished Nation, really helped me gain confidence in my content knowledge (Brinkley 2005.) I find myself getting more and more excited about history the further we get along.  My students see the enthusiasm I have, and in turn, become more enthusiastic about the content.

The master teacher was also a huge help to me.  Mr. Hicks also seemed passionate and enthusiastic about teaching history.  The analysis worksheets he provided really helped me more than my students.  I was able to breakdown exactly what I wanted my students to identify through different types of sources.  I loved that he used popular music (Alan Jackson and Garth Brooks) to define emotions of certain events (September 11.)  In addition, I loved the analysis of political cartoons.  I never thought my fifth grade students would be able to thoughtfully and skillfully analyze political cartoons. I have found that not only can my students make these analyses but also enjoy the cartoons.  I have been able to integrate the cartoons in my language arts lessons as well as my social studies lessons.  I have my students analyze the language used in the cartoons as well as locate parts of speech and grammar errors.  (They really enjoy searching the cartoons for grammatical errors.) 

I was very apprehensive about the cultural institutions.  I have never been much of a researcher and could not see how sitting in a stuffy old building could help improve my teaching.  I did not see the importance of using primary sources in my classroom.  I assumed a website, video, or picture would be plenty.  However, I was amazed to find out how much more interesting a primary source can make a lesson.  I was even more amazed to see how many primary sources there were lying around in the cultural institutions as well as there many connections to South Carolina.  My attitude towards history might have been a little different as a young student if I had taken a trip to the South Carolina Railroad Museum or Kensington Mansion.

I thoroughly enjoyed being at each institution and soaking up the history.  I have begun integrating primary sources into my classroom and have seen a large peak in students’ interest when I can connect some global concept to South Carolina.  My original plans for my two lessons were to analyze the social aspects of Reconstruction on African Americans in South Carolina utilizing the freedmen’s contract and Jacob Stroyer’s book. 

My students and I covered the content associated with Reconstruction and I really tried to make it real to them.  We discussed the Freedmen’s Bureau and I told them that they were active in South Carolina.  I had actually located a diary at South Caroliniana Library where I read a few passages about a white teacher traveling to North and South Carolina to teach the African-American students.  We then moved onto the freedmen’s contract and I pulled out the contract to show the students.  They loved it!  They were intrigued and spent a good bit of time trying to decipher the writing.  It was incredible for them to see South Carolina written on the clearly aged document from so long ago. 

My plan was for us to make up a contract similar to the original document.However, the plan did not go as well as I had planned.  I did not realize the amount of time and planning it would take to utilize good primary sources.  I did not plan effectively and therefore, my lesson was not a success. 

I worked with my teammate, Shannon Holland, and we came up with a unit for World War II.  It would be perfect timing, as we planned to teach our lessons right before the mid-year retreat.  However, due to opening a brand new school and my being a first year teacher, we got behind in our curriculum.  We will be starting World War II in a few weeks.  My plans for my lessons are to have my students analyze advertisements from World War II.  The Camden Chronicle provided advertisements asking South Carolinians to get involved in the war effort by rationing shoes (“Now That Shoes Are Rationed.” The Camden Chronicle, 12 February 1943), planting victory gardens (“For Your Victory Garden.” 12 February 1943), etc.  Students will analyze these as well as articles drawing women into the military.

My second lesson will involve students being able to interview veterans who fought in World War II and see how prepared South Carolina was during and after the war.  I interviewed both of my grandparents who were enlisted in the United States Marine Corps during WWII and were both from South Carolina.  My grandmother told of her training and clerical desk job (Gambrell, Margaret 2007.)  My grandfather remembered more vivid details of what South Carolina was like during WWII.  He told me how unprepared he was when he left for the Pacific and how the soldiers at Camp Jackson used broomsticks and cardboard to emulate machine guns during training (Gambrell, Charles 2007.)  The students will be able to ask questions from the people who have lived in and get a real feel for what South Carolina was like at this time.

Although I feel one hundred times better about my content knowledge, I feel that I could strive to work closer with the cultural institutions and utilize more primary sources.  I use them in my classroom, but I feel that I could have my students become more acquainted with them.  I want them to be able to make more connections to South Carolina and history in general through these documents.  I plan to have field studies to the State Museum and perhaps even Kensington Mansion next year to give the students a better connection to the content.  I think that if I work harder to familiarize myself with these institutions and become more comfortable with primary sources, I will be able to have a greater success when using them with my students.  I plan to spend my summer with my head in those dusty old buildings digging up new treasures for years to come!

Student Assessments

Teacher used attached rubric.

Examples of Students Work

No examples available for this lesson plan.


Kelly Gambrell
Sandlapper Elementary