[semester equivalent = 2.00 credits]



Eric Low



One of the essential components in Language Arts and Social Studies is the study of World War II. Our culture is fascinated with this topic and there is ample film and literature created to help communicate the scope and importance of this war to future generations. Use of these stories in the classroom brings a clearer perspective of our history to students. This class is designed for Language Arts and Social Studies teachers of grades 4th-12th, developing curriculum that meets state standards.

This class will also provide video and literature ideas for teachers in preparation for major themes of World War II that can wake up your students and empower discussions around many of the major topics of World War II such as films like Nuremberg, Escape from Sobibor, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Saving Private Ryan, Memphis Belle, etc; many of these films are available at local libraries, from NetFlix, in video stores and also for free trial and purchase from documentary film sources like The Video Project. You will choose 8 videos to view and summarize, and write a short plan on how you’ll use some of these in your teaching situation.

If you choose NetFlix, a three-month subscription is about $30. (NetFlix also has an online video capability with the right operating system.) You will need to have access to both a DVD player and a VHS video player to enjoy the full range of media choices.


LEARNING OUTCOMES: Upon completion of this course, participants will have:

Upon completion of this course, participants will:

Have a broader knowledge of the different video and literature possibilities associated with World War II for classroom use.

Develop greater skill in how to use videos for teaching purposes,

Develop a plan for a teaching unit in a World War II area (European and Pacific battles and the Holocaust) that applies to their teaching.   

Apply extended reading on World War II issues to lesson plans, if the credit option is chosen

Completion of all specified assignments is required for issuance of hours or credit. The Heritage Institute does not award partial credit.

Completing the basic assignments (Section A. Information Acquisition) for this course automatically earns participant’s their choice of CEUs (Continuing Education Units), or Washington State Clock Hours or Oregon PDUs. The Heritage Institute offers CEUs and is an approved provider of Washington State Clock Hours and Oregon PDUs.



Continuing Education Quarter credits are awarded by Antioch University Seattle (AUS). AUS requires 75% or better for credit at the 400 level and 85% or better to issue credit at the 500 level. These criteria refer both to the amount and quality of work submitted.

  1. Completion of Information Acquisition assignments 30%
  2. Completion of Learning Application assignments 40%
  3. Completion of Integration Paper assignment 30%


CREDIT/NO CREDIT (No Letter Grades or Numeric Equivalents on Transcripts)
Antioch University Seattle (AUS) Continuing Education Quarter credit is offered on a Credit/No Credit basis; neither letter grades nor numeric equivalents are on a transcript. 400 level credit is equal to a "C" or better, 500 level credit is equal to a "B" or better. This information is on the back of the transcript.

AUS Continuing Education quarter credits may or may not be accepted into degree programs. Prior to registering determine with your district personnel, department head or state education office the acceptability of these credits for your purpose.



For 500 level credit only, after determining your assignment choice, select one of the following: 

  • Boulle, Pierre.The Bridge Over the River Kwai.  Presidio Press:  2007.
  • Rashke, Richard.Escape from Sobibor.  University of Illinois Press:  1995.
  • Ryan, Cornelius.The Longest Day, Simon and Schuster:  1994.
  • You will need a VHS and a DVD player. Access to the films listed. A NetFlix (or similar) account is about $30. Your district, local video stores and libraries will also have these films.

  • The Bridge Over the River Kwai: A Novel
    ISBN# 0891419136
    by Pierre Boulle
    Presidio Press

    Buy from Amazon
  • Escape from Sobibor: Revised and Updated Edition
    ISBN# 1480458511
    by Richard Rashke
    Delphinium Books

    Buy from Amazon
  • The Longest Day: The Classic Epic of D-Day
    ISBN# 0671890913
    by Cornelius Ryan
    Simon & Schuster

    Buy from Amazon


Text cost varies based on your book selection. * Boulle, Pierre.The Bridge Over the River Kwai. Presidio Press: 2007. * Rashke, Richard.Escape from Sobibor. University of Illinois Press: 1995. * Ryan, Cornelius.The Longest Day, Simon and Schuster: 1994. You will need a VHS and a DVD player. Access to the films listed. A NetFlix (or similar) account is about $30. Your district, local video stores and libraries will also have these films.


Eric Low, M.A.  has been a teacher and coach in the state of Washington since 1992.  He has lived, taught, and studied in Southwest Washington since 1995.  Eric has a Master’s degree in history from Eastern Washington University with an emphasis in America’s West and has been an active researcher of Washington State history for 20+ years.  Eric currently teaches history at Winlock High School and serves as a Lead Teacher for ESD 112s “Constitutional Connections” American History grant, a 3 year program that has worked to utilize and develop Social Studies Common Core and CBAs in the classroom.   





Novels, VHS & DVD Resources,


These World War II novels can be found in local libraries, ESD libraries, or on Google Books.

Boulle, Pierre.  The Bridge Over the River Kwai.  Presidio Press:  2007.
Rashke, Richard.  Escape from Sobibor.  University of Illinois Press:  1995.

Ryan, Cornelius.  The Longest Day, Simon and Schuster:  1994.


Frank, Anne.  Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, New York, Washington Square Press, 1972.

The Diary of a Young Girl is a book based on the writings from a diary written by Anne Frank while she was in hiding for two years with her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.  The family was apprehended in 1944 and Anne Frank ultimately died of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. After the war, the diary was retrieved by Anne's father, Otto Frank.

Jones, James. From Here to Eternity, New York, Scriber, 1951.  

From Here to Eternity is a novel by James Jones, winner of the National Book Award for fiction in 1952.  It is loosely based on Jones' experiences in the pre-World War II Hawaiian Division's 27th Infantry and the unit in which he served, Company E ("The Boxing Company").  Fellow company member Hal Gould said that while the novel was based on the company, including some depictions of actual persons, the characters are fictional and both the harsh conditions and described events are inventions.

Vonnegut, Kurt. Slaughterhouse-Five, New York, Delacarte Press, 1969.

Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance With Death (1969) is an anti-war science fiction novel by Kurt Vonnegut about World War II experiences and journeys through time of a soldier called Billy Pilgrim.

Wouk, Herman. The Winds of War, Boston, Little, Brown, 1971.

The story revolves around a mixture of real and fictional characters, all connected in some way to the extended family of Victor "Pug" Henry, a middle-aged Naval Officer and confidant of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  The story begins six months before Germany's invasion of Poland, which launched the European portion of the war, and ends shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, when the United States and, by extension, the Henry family, enters the war as well.  Mixed into the text are "excerpts" from a book written by one of the book's characters, German general Armin Von Roon, written while he was in prison for war crimes.  Coming across the German version, a retired Victor Henry "translates" the volume in 1965.  The text provides the reader with a German outlook at the war with Henry occasionally inserting notes contradicting some of the statements.

VHS & DVD Resources

Educational Service District  

Many ESDs have World War II videos available for use at your school.  Check selections.

Local Library Systems

Many local library systems have World War II videos available for use at your school.

The Video Project

Teachers can sample a number of videos from this excellent source of media on a large variety of

subjects.  Click on the link above to see the selection.  Many categories are related to the global issues

focus of this course.


NetFlix is an online DVD site where you can order many commercial and documentary movies which are

mailed to you.  A monthly subscription costs about $5, and you receive one DVD at a time.  As soon as

you have seen it, return the DVD and you are supplied a second choice.  If you choose NetFlix, they have

a documentary section (upper right under favorite genres on the home page) and all the films listed and

described below are all available from NetFlix.  If you work quickly, it would be possible to view all the

movies easily in two months or less.


DVDs from NetFlix

New: Most of the following titles can be found in the dvd version of netflix or on youtube


European Battle Front


Battle of the Bulge            

In December 1944, Nazi forces launch an expertly planned counteroffensive against Allied troops in Belgium.  The brilliant strategist behind the attack is German Col. Martin Hessler (Robert Shaw), whose campaign may be thwarted by the dogged efforts of American intelligence officer Lt. Col. Daniel Kiley.


Memphis Belle

A U.S. bomber plane's crew is ordered to hit a heavily defended German city. Capt. Dearborn (Matthew Modine) leads his men into battle while their commander and a public relations officer (John Lithgow) anxiously await the squad's return.  Amid friction between the captain and his co-pilot (Tate Donovan), a scandal erupts when it's learned that a medical officer has been dishonest.  Based on the real-life World War II plane's final mission. 


Saving Private Ryan

As U.S. troops storm the beaches of Normandy, three brothers lie dead on the battlefield, with a fourth trapped behind enemy lines.  Ranger captain Tom Hanks and seven men are tasked with penetrating German-held territory and bringing the boy home.


The Longest Day

With four directors and an all-star cast, this Academy Award-winning war epic from producer Darryl F. Zanuck chronicles World War II's harrowing D-Day invasion.  Shot on the beaches of Normandy, France, the ambitious film attempts to cover the historic day from all perspectives, focusing on figures from both sides of the conflict. 





Diary of Anne Frank        

As the "Green Police" search for Jews on the streets of Amsterdam, a young girl named Anne (Millie Perkins), her parents Otto and Edith (Joseph Schildkraut and Gusti Huber) and another family retreat for two years to the small attic of shop owners Kraler and Miep (Douglas Spencer and Dody Heath).  Despite being confined to a small area and having no contact with the outside world, the families go on with their lives to the best of their ability.


Escape from Sobibor

A WWII Nazi death camp sets the stage for this TV miniseries based on a true story about hundreds of imprisoned Jews who plan to revolt and escape.  Taking on the role of leader, Leon Feldhendler (Alan Arkin) relies on the military know-how of fellow inmate and Russian soldier Alexander Percherski (Rutger Hauer) in devising a plan of attack to emancipate the entire camp.



U.S. Supreme Court justice Robert Jackson (Alec Baldwin) is prepping for the trial of a lifetime.  In the shadow of the Holocaust, can Allied prosecutors advance principles before vengeance when they prosecute the Nazi high command?  Based on Joseph Persico's Nuremberg: Infamy on Trial, TNT's powerful miniseries captures the human drama while grappling with the larger philosophical issues of genocide and nations at war.


Schindler’s List

Liam Neeson stars as Oskar Schindler, a greedy German factory owner made rich by exploiting cheap Jewish labor.  But as World War II unfolds, he becomes an unlikely humanitarian, spending his entire fortune to help save 1,100 Jews from Auschwitz.


Battle of the Pacific



A sprawling war film, Midway stars nearly every actor who wasn't in A Bridge Too Far.  Charlton Heston, Toshirô Mifune, Robert Mitchum and Henry Fonda are among the familiar faces depicting the American and Japanese forces in a naval battle that became the turning point of the Pacific war.  Using some real wartime footage, Midway provides an exciting view of a gigantic battle.


Pearl Harbor

The lifelong friendship between Rafe McCawley (Ben Affleck) and Danny Walker (Josh Hartnett) is put to the ultimate test when the two ace fighter pilots become entangled in a love triangle with beautiful Naval nurse Evelyn Johnson (Kate Beckinsale).  The rivalry between the friends-turned-foes is immediately put on hold when they find themselves in Japan's devastating attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.


The Bridge on the River Kwai

Director David Lean's sweeping epic — best known for a whistling work theme that became legendary — is set in a World War II-era Japanese prison camp where British POWs are forced to construct a railway bridge for morale-building.  Yet the real battle of wills is between a "play by the rules" British colonel (Alec Guinness) who's dedicated to the project and his American rival (William Holden), who vows to destroy it.



Tora! Tora! Tora!

Named for the Japanese phrase that signals the start of an attack, Tora! Tora! Tora! tells both the American and Japanese versions of the infamous attack that catapulted the United States into World War II.  The film reveals mistakes made by both governments, which added to the confusion and culminated in the harrowing bombing of Hawaii's Pearl Harbor.  Spectacular film earned an Oscar for special effects.