Previously, Caradonna’s lessons on the Vietnam War included video footage, photographs and her own notes and memories of the war, which took place while she was in grade school, high school and college.
”With things like eBooks, you can design your own curriculum and you won’t need textbooks,” Caradonna said.
The interactive book shows photographs and other remembrances of those who died. The materials were provided by friends and family members. Caradonna collected the mementos in 2012, in reaction to a call from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund to match faces to the names on the black granite war memorial in the nation’s capitol.
Among the items she collected are letters sent home by the servicemen, including Michael James Gambino, telling his family about a day spent at the beach playing in the surf. Gambino, 20, a private in the Army, was killed in action on Sept. 22, 1970, in the South Vietnamese city of Binh Dinh.
In Caradonna’s eBook, students can click on an image of a portion of the letter, enlarge it and read Gambino’s words.
”I definitely thought it was different, but in a positive way,” senior Allie Simmons said about her experiences with the eBook in her junior year. “It goes into depth, like a section called local heroes that talks about local people who died in the war, which we would not find in a textbook.”
Many of Caradonna’s students visited Washington, D.C., in their eighth-grade class trip, which included a visit to the Vietnam Memorial.
”I wanted to show them that it’s not just a wall with names,’’ Caradonna said. “It’s people who had a life and had a family.’’
Simmons said she and other students talked about how different a return visit to the Vietnam Memorial would be now.