May 4th, 1970 May 4th, 1970 - Kent State WebQuest

May 4th, 1970 - Kent State WebQuest
An Internet WebQuest on Kent State - May 4, 1970

created by Brian McKenna
Chagrin Falls High School

Introduction | The Task | The Process & Resources | Phase 1 - Background: Something for Everyone | Phase 2 - Looking Deeper from Different Perspectives | Phase 3 - Debating, Discussing, & Reaching Consensus | Phase 4 - Real World Feedback | Kent State Worksheet | Kent State & Vietnam War Links | Project Rubric | Oral Rubric | Project Based Learning: 9-12 Writing Checklist | Conclusion | HyperText Dictionary


On a Monday afternoon, during the spring of 1970, students began to congregate in an open area on the Kent State University campus. They gathered by a building that was burnt down over the weekend. In front of the wreckage stood members of the Ohio National Guard. While the ROTC building had burned, the City of Kent endured protests throughout the weekend by the university students. The provocation was the recent anouncement by President Richard Nixon that U.S. forces would enter Cambodia. The Vietnam War had already created an uneasy atmosphere on the homefront and the recent news appeared to take things to a level that neither side wanted to face. Although the Governor had stated that the scheduled afternoon protest was not to occur at Kent State, the crowd gained in numbers. The time came when rocks and bricks were soon being thrown towards the ROTC building and the guardsmen themselves. Being hurled in the opposite direction was tear gas. In just a short time, the rifles were focused on the crowd and then began the movement of the crowd back and around a classroom building. The guardsmen followed. And then, in just a matter of seconds, shots rung out. Four students lay dead and nine wounded.

The Quest

You have been placed in a diverse group of participants at a conference following the May 4, 1970 tragedy at Kent State University. Officials at KSU have asked all of you to draw up a mission statement and strategic plan to be implemented for the upcoming fall semester. Naturally, tensions are high and issues have yet to be resolved. The Administration has asked that your committee devise a program that is inclusive of all members of the school community, which will not be an easy task. Your typed proposal will be distributed to the audience as a supplement to your presentation. Be aware that you will be asked questions on the merits of the plan, so research carefully.

The Process and Resources

There are plentiful examples of mission statements and strategic plans posted on the Internet. Listed below are a few recommended sites to give you guidance.

Note that your finished product should include:
A name for the Plan
A Vision/Purpose
Mission Statement

For each part of your strategy, please follow these guidelines:
Part 1: What will it be?
What steps need to be taken?
By whom?
Desired Results/outcomes? What needs to occur to be considered successful?

Your plan must also be able to meet the needs of all those interested.
When presenting your plan you must demonstrate how it has been inclusive of all members of the Kent State community? In essence, why will these people, who have lately been fiercely segmented, buy into the program and give a full faith effort to seeing it through?

Phase 1 - Background: Something for Everyone

Days 1 & 2: The Vietnam War - A Guide to Understanding
If the students do not have a general knowledge of the Vietnam War, then it is recommended that they complete this worksheet. If the knowledge is adequate, then move on to Phase 2 - Looking Deeper from Different Perspectives.
Answer these questions to gain a general knowledge of the Vietnam War. The first set of questions can be answered from the textbook World History: The Human Experience (pages 910-912). However, most history textbooks should cover the majority of the information as well. You can also go to Discovery School on the Internet for assistance. They link to World Book Encyclopedia Online. This link will take you directly to the Vietnam War article.
Days 3 & part of Day 4 will be spent as a class going over the terminology to insure a clear understanding of the topic.

Phase 2 - Looking Deeper from Different Perspectives


1. During the second half of Day 4, students shall take the opportunity to visit the Internet links: 'May 4th, 1970 - General Information' and 'The May 4 Shootings at Kent State University: The Search for Historical Accuracy.' Students will be given ample time to gain a general knowledge of the tragedy, yet have no specific task to fill out. Now, individuals from your WebQuest team will explore one of the roles below.

Days 5 & 6
2. Read through the files linked to your group. If you print out the files, underline the passages that you feel are the most important. If you look at the files on the computer, copy sections you feel are important by dragging the mouse across the passage and copying / pasting it into a word processor or other writing software.

3. Note: Remember to write down or copy/paste the URL of the file you take the passage from so you can quickly go back to it if you need to to prove your point.

4. Be prepared to focus what you've learned into one main opinion that will support the mission statement and strategic plan based on what you have learned from the links for your role.


Use the Internet information linked above to answer these questions specifically related to Student:

1. What issues are the students going to face when they return to the Kent campus?
2. What issues are they facing in their country as young people?
3. How segmented are the youth? What is each group's feelings on Vietnam?
4. What concerns does a new student have coming to Kent in the Fall?


Use the Internet information linked above to answer these questions specifically related to Kent State University:

1. What issues are facing the Administration?
2. Where are the pressures coming from and what are the pressures that they are enduring from each group?
3. What should be their priorities?
4. What options do they have? What are the merits and downfalls of each option?


Use the Internet information linked above to answer these questions specifically related to Government:

1. How should the Federal, State, & Local Government be involved in the future of Kent State?
2. With over 1/3 of all universities shutting down & 2 additional deaths at Jackson State College, what steps must the Government take to insure a less rocky fall semester?
3. What has the Government been facing at home in reaction to the efforts in Vietnam?
4. What can the government do at home to ensure the efforts in Vietnam are not hindered?


Use the Internet information linked above to answer these questions specifically related to Parent:

1. What concerns would a parent have in sending back or enrolling his/her child at Kent State in the fall of 1970?
2. What actions would a parent want to see taken immediately and in the future if a conflict arises?
3. What issues are parents facing at this time? Is it different for fathers than mothers and, if so, how?
4. What actions should a parent of a college student take during this time?

Phase 3 - Debating, Discussing, and Reaching Consensus

Days 7 & 8
You have all learned about a different part of the tragedy at Kent State & the Vietnam War. By searching for information that was relevent to your particular group, you are now able to come back to the larger WebQuest team with expertise from that one perspective. You must all now work as a group to develop a mission statement and strategic plan. Each of you will bring a certain viewpoint to the answer: some of you will agree and others disagree. Use information, pictures, facts, opinions, etc. from the Webpages you explored to convince your teammates that your viewpoint is important and should be part of your team's answer to the task. Your WebQuest team should write out a mission statement and strategic plan that everyone on the team can live with. It is now time to evaluate your proposal from the point of view of all those involved in this situation. Utilize this project rubric to determine how strong your idea are.

Phase 4 - Real World Feedback

You and your teammates have learned a lot by dividing up into different roles. Now's the time to put your mission statement and strategic plan into a more public forum for real world feedback. Together you will discuss your efforts with an individual who was at least college age during the May 4, 1970 incident. Here's the process:

1. Begin by stating what the project entailed and what the objective of the finished product is.

2. Allow the individual to read the statement and plan and answer any questions he/she has.

3. Ask the individual to list three merits of your work and why it deserves merit. Follow this up by having the individual list three areas of concern he/she has with the work and why there are those concerns. Feel free to gather any input on the reviewer's knowledge on the subject and any recommendations.

4. For Day 9 of the activity, bring the results of this interview back to the classroom, but do not neglect to have the adult sign it. Be prepared to share the knowledge from this experience in the classroom.


Understanding a topic as broad or complex as the Vietnam War and, in particular, the tragedy at Kent State is not an easy task. The issues were just not black and white and unfortunately those years tore at the fabric of our country. The effort of this Webquest was not only to gain a better knowledge of this period, but an appreciation for all the intense feelings that were conflicting with one another.
GRADING - Educators all assess projects in different manner. My students will do part of the assessment through the project rubric, while I have a rubric for their group presentation. A checklist can be customized for the written segment at Project Based Learning: 9-12 Writing Checklist. will create a checklist for their typed proposal

 created by Filamentality Content by Brian McKenna,
Last revised Sun Apr 23 7:50:49 US/Pacific 2000