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Tim O'Brien in the Classroom: "This too is true: Stories can save us"

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Tim O'Brien in the Classroom: "This too is true: Stories can save us"

Grades 9 – 12
Type Book
Published October 2007
Publisher National Council of Teachers of English



Many students, even those who claim to dislike stories of war or violence, are drawn to the writing of Tim O'Brien, especially The Things They Carried. The mysteries and “gray areas” O'Brien explores make his work a perfect addition to units on the fiction of the Vietnam War, first-person narrative, modern stories and novels, war stories, story cycles, and unconventional narrative structures.

As part of the NCTE High School Literature Series, Tim O'Brien in the Classroom focuses on opportunities for classroom discussion and writing assignments, including lessons, open-ended prompts, and student writing samples. By teaching Tim O'Brien's works, you can not only make connections with other material in the literary canon, but also initiate broader discussions with your students about the reliability of memory, the purpose of storytelling, and the origins of fiction.


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Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Unit

Love of War in Tim O'Brien's "How to Tell a True War Story"

Students explore the theme of love of war through texts on camaraderie among soldiers. They then compose a visual collage depicting their beliefs about the relationship between love and war.


Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Building Vietnam War Scavenger Hunts through Web-Based Inquiry

Students research the effects of the Vietnam war on a specific group of people who were involved. They then create Internet scavenger hunts to share with the class.