Incredible Resources and Extension Ideas for This Month’s Play

By Lauren Salisbury
April 15, 2019

United States Air Force Museum

We can’t wait for your students to read the play in the May issue of Scope, which tells the story of World War II WASPs (Women Airforce Service Pilots) through the eyes of a young female pilot. This play holds a special place in my heart—my grandmother was a pilot for the Navy during World War II and I can totally see her moxie in the characters of Margie and Nell in Fly Girl. After reading this inspiring play, explore the resources below to keep the learning going.

Essential Questions
Post these questions in your classroom for students to refer to as they explore the resources:

  • What makes a risk worth taking?
  • What effect does discrimination have on society?
  • What does it take to change a long-held idea?

 

6 resources to keep the learning going:

Listen to a podcast.

Listen to this NPR Morning Edition podcast (8:59) which includes clips from multiple pilots, General Arnold, and a historian from Texas Woman’s University.

To discuss:

  • What similarities do you notice between Margie Canfield’s story and Margaret Taylor’s story?
  • The WASPs were considered civilians, not official members of the military. In what ways did this affect the WASPs?
  • Why was the WASP program threatened and eventually disbanded?
  • What united the WASPs to push for military recognition?

United States Air Force Museum

View photos taken by a WASP.

View this slideshow of rare color photos taken by WASP Lillian Yonally and listen to Lillian talk about her experiences. You'll aslo hear sound clips of pilots singing songs from the WASP songbook (which you can view here).

To discuss:

  • Why was Lillian’s camera considered contraband?
  • What does the author mean when she says that like other WASPs, Lillian is “unassuming about her duty”?
Lillian's Story: In Color

Read letters and oral histories from a primary source collection.

Explore this collection of WASPs’ correspondences with their families and transcripts of oral history interviews from the Texas Woman’s University digital archives.

Playwright Spencer Kayden spent countless hours scouring this site while doing research for the play. Here is a smattering of her favorite letters:

Peter Stackpole/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Watch an interview with a WASP.

Watch this CBS Sunday Morning interview (5:37) with 93-year-old WASP Lucile Wise. (The documentary mentioned in the interview, “We Served Too,” is available for free viewing here: https://vimeo.com/78187471)

To discuss:

  • What is the legacy of the WASPs?
Honoring the female pilots of WWII

Read a White House blog post from a U.S. Army Colonel.

Read this post by Colonel Emma Coulson, as she recounts her experience watching President Obama sign the bill that awarded Congressional Gold Medals to more than 1,000 WASPs in 2009.

Official White House photo/Pete Souza

Explore a website about women’s service in WWII.

Explore the Women of World War II website to learn more about how women served in the U.S. armed forces during the war.

Library of Congress

Women workers install fixtures and assemblies to a tail fuselage section of a B-17 bomber at the Douglas Aircraft Company plant, Long Beach, CA.

4 engaging activities to choose from:

  • Using the resources above, write a one-act play, a short story, or a poem about a real-life WASP—how and why she became a WASP and what she experienced in that role.
  • Write a proposal for a museum exhibit about the WASPs. List the types of objects you would include in the display. Then write the information that will appear next to the display.
  • Create a timeline of the WASP program using information from the play and the resources above.
  • Write an open letter, in the voice of a WASP, to the male pilots who refused to fly with her, or to the public, or to the Air Force. Explain how it feels not to be taken seriously and why female pilots deserve respect and admiration.

 

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