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15 October 2014
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About This Site > Learning Zone > Schools: Black and Asian Involvement

Activities for Schools: Black and Asian Involvement

The resources on this page can be used by teachers and community educators in classrooms and learning centres. Lesson Plans are based on extracts from stories which were submitted to the WW2 People's War site. They are suitable for both primary and secondary students and have curriculum links to History, English, RE, Citizenship and Media Studies.

  • Lessons meet the skill and content requirements for the UK curriculum in history, English and citizenship (England and Wales).
  • It may be possible to use some exercises to support RE classes at Key Stages 2, 3 and 4.
  • The lessons could be adapted to use as part of centre-designed history coursework for Key Stage 4.
  • Some topics will naturally fit into one lesson and others may run over a number of weeks.

This lesson plan includes:

  • Lesson 1: Black and Asian Contributions (Key Stages 3 and 4)
  • Lesson 2: Discrimination (Key Stages 2, 3 and 4)
  • Lesson 3: Childhood heroes (Key Stages 2 and 3)

How to use these lesson plans

  • Use as a structured scheme of work on the British Home Front, 1939-45.
  • Use as generic lesson plans for the teacher, rather than material to be given direct to the pupils.
  • Alter the plans and cut and paste questions in order to make resource sheets according to the ability and age of the pupils.
  • The plans are for mixed ability groups, although the teacher may want to split groups and tasks according to ability.

The list of resources at the beginning of each lesson includes a reference to stories and images from the BBC's WW2 People's War site, extracts from which are in the Story extracts page. You may find it useful to print out the full stories. There is also a guideline of preparation materials that are generally found in schools or can be provided by the teacher.

Lesson 1: Commonwealth

Key Stages - 3 and 4

Objectives - To understand why black and Asian Commonwealth troops joined up and to begin to understand the significance of the Commonwealth contribution to World War Two.

Extracts from the following WW2 People's War stories. These, and links to the stories, can be found on the Story extracts page.

  • Making a Difference - Experiences of a Black British Serviceman
  • Ramisaminaidu, a Runner in the 11th Indian LAA in Burma

Other resources needed for the class

  • Photocopies of the relevant extracts from the Story extracts page
  • Printed up Pupil Task Sheet
  • Definition of the word 'commonwealth'.
  • Labels and string
  • Highlighters
  • Mini whiteboards or plain A4 paper
  • ICT room

Teacher Notes

Historical outline

The Commonwealth began with the independence of India in 1947. It included countries that had previously been part of the British Empire. Many of these countries had sent troops to fight in Europe during World War Two. There are now 54 member countries spread through Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, the Mediterranean, North America and the Pacific. Its 1.7 billion people are over a quarter of the world's population. Over half are young people aged 25 or under. Equality, justice and democracy are the core beliefs of the Commonwealth.The second Monday in March every year is Commonwealth Day.

Teaching and Learning Activities

Starter Activity

  • Write the word 'common' on the board.
  • Ask a few individual pupils in the class to say what they think it means.
  • Then ask pupils in silence to write a sentence definition of the word 'common'.
  • Once they have completed the sentence ask pupils to exchange definitions with a partner. They should then discuss their ideas and create a definition that includes both their ideas.
  • Ask each pair to join with another pair to form a group of four.They should then exchange definitions, discuss their ideas and create a final definition.
  • Ask each group to feed back to the rest of the class and reach a class definition.
  • Repeat these steps for the word 'wealth'.
  • Then ask each group to put the two words together and reach a definition.
  • Ask each group to feed back their ideas to the class.
  • Discuss as a class the themes of working together and sharing heritage.
  • Introduce the historical background of the Commonwealth and ask what common heritage the countries shared. Link to the ideas of the British Empire (see outline above).
  • Ask the class if they can name some countries that have joined the Commonwealth that may have taken part in World War Two.

Activity 1

Split the class into groups of four pupils and give each group a copy of both extracts. Ask the pupils to read the extracts and identify quotations that explain why the people in the stories joined up. Use these quotations to compile a list of the reasons why the West Indian and Indian soldiers joined up.

Ask each group to feed back their ideas to the class.

Activity 2

The class could do this whole activity in an ICT room and access the story Making a Difference - Experiences of a Black British Serviceman online. Otherwise, hand out a copy of the extract to each group.

Set up the IWB (if you are using it). Present the pupils with a table like the one below to record research from the story. Model the first answer. For example:

Divide the class into pairs and ask them to draw their own table to record their research, either on paper or using a PC. For feedback, ask two pupils to record the information on the IWB.Then ask each pair to contribute one point.

Once the table is completed discuss why people at the time might not have known about these activities.

Activity 3

Split the class into groups of four pupils. Ask them to imagine they have to prepare a brief radio report in 1940 that would explain the importance of Commonwealth troops to the war effort and to acknowledge and boost the morale of these troops. Ask them to use examples from the two extracts that they have read and think about the fact that their reports need to use uplifting and emotive language.

Present the reports to the class.

Activity 4

Split the class into pairs and ask them to discuss the questions below. Then feed back and discuss as a class. Pupils could consider ideas such as lack of technical skill, lack of formal education, the people had returned to Commonwealth countries where they did not have access to the website, or the fact that wartime recollections can be painful to remember.

Plenary

Tell the pupils that they have 10 seconds to tell someone who knows nothing about the Commonwealth contribution in World War Two why it was important. They must decide what they would say in 10 seconds. Then ask each pupil to tell the rest of the class their view while you time the 10 seconds.

Lesson 2: Discrimination

Key Stages - 2, 3 and 4

Objectives - To begin to understand the prejudice that black troops experienced during World War Two and some of the reasons why it had developed.

Extracts from the following WW2 People's War stories can be found on the Story extracts page.

  • Making a Difference - Experiences of a Black British Serviceman
  • Ramisaminaidu, a Runner in the 11th Indian LAA in Burma
  • The Dazzling Black American
  • Indian Troops in Scotland

Other resources needed for the class

  • Photocopies of the relevant extracts from the Story extracts page
  • Selection of books with different covers
  • ICT room, or sugar paper, coloured pens and scissors

Teaching and Learning Activities

Starter Activity

Hold up a selection of books one at a time. Ask the pupils to guess what the text is like and how interesting the topic might be, based on the colours and design of the cover.

Discuss their responses and point out that the contents of books may not always be what you expect. Discuss the idea that people make quick judgements which are not based on any real fact or understanding of a topic. Discuss how stereotypical ideas can be formed by making rash judgements, such as 'all large books are boring'. Ask the class to think of examples in life where this way of acting can cause upset. Introduce the issue of discrimination.

Activity 1

Split the class into groups of three or four pupils. Ask them to read the extracts and consider the following points:

  • What type of discrimination was experienced?
  • Why did the author think that the discrimination had developed?

Feed back as a class and discuss the questions.

Activity 2

It would be a good idea to do this activity in an ICT room. Otherwise, pupils can use sugar paper, coloured pens and scissors.

Split the class into groups of four pupils. Ask them to imagine they are a group of black and Asian soldiers who want to help other black and Asian soldiers in World War Two deal with discrimination.Tell them that they should use the evidence from the extracts to prepare a leaflet (on a PC or using paper, pens and scissors) that gives practical advice about dealing with discrimination in World War Two.

Activity 3

Each pupil should write a speech which explains how these stories illustrate the importance of learning about multicultural history. Pupils can use the extracts, the full stories or research other Commonwealth stories in the Allied and Commonwealth category. They can also read other articles about multicultural history from BBC History.

Plenary

Ask the pupils to think of one way in which education can prevent prejudice.

Lesson 3: Childhood Heroes

Key Stages - 2 and 3

Objectives - To understand how the age and location of the authors of the extracts may have determined their reaction to the black and Asian soldiers.

Extracts from the following WW2 People's War stories can be found on the Story extracts page.

  • The Brown Bomber: Meeting Joe Louis
  • The Dazzling Black American
  • A Black Londoner at War

Other resources needed for the class

  • Photocopies of the relevant extracts from the Story extracts page
  • Printed up Pupil Task Sheet
  • Sticky notes (such as Post-It)

Teaching and Learning Activities

Starter Activity

Ask each pupil to tell their neighbour about someone they think is a hero. While listening to each other they must make a list of reasons why the speaker admires their hero.

Activity 1

Split the pupils into pairs. Hand out the extracts and ask the pupils to underline the words that show that the authors admired the people they are writing about. Feed back answers and discuss as a class.

Activity 2

Split the pupils into groups of four. Ask them to read the extracts and make a list of the reasons why the author of each article admires the person. Feed back answers and discuss as a class.

Activity 3

Ask pupils to think about the qualities the authors admired when they were children and why. Ask each pupil to write a short story about someone they met for the first time who surprised them in a pleasant way, or someone they particularly admired as a young child.

Activity 4

Split the class into groups and hand out copies of the Pupil Task Sheet. Ask them to read the extracts and consider the questions on the Task Sheet.

Plenary

Split the class into groups of four pupils. Hand out pads of sticky notes. Ask each group to write down as many words as possible that represent human emotions, with each word on a separate sticky note. Give each group a copy of the extracts, each on a separate page. Tell the pupils to place each sticky note next to the extract that most closely matches the emotion written on the note. Ask the groups, using the words, to agree on one sentence that sums up the tone and emotional content of each extract.

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