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Fox Conner: A General's General lesson plan

OVERVIEW

Despite an outstanding forty-four-year career as a leader and instructor in the U. S. Army in the early 20th century, most Americans are unfamiliar with Fox Conner. In this lesson, students will learn about a Mississippian who was inducted into the Mississippi Hall of Fame in 1987 and, according to military historians, was perhaps the most influential officer in the United States Army between World War I and World War II.

CONNECTION TO THE CURRICULUM

Mississippi Studies Framework: Competencies 3 and 4

TEACHING LEVELS

Grades 4 (with modifications) through 12

MATERIALS

  • Butcher paper for timeline; markers

OBJECTIVES

Students will:

• Develop reasons why an article was written on Fox Conner;
• Discover General Conner’s ties to Mississippi;
• Realize General Conner’s contributions to the U.S. military;
• Either support or reject the reasons for an article on Conner.

OPENING THE LESSON

Write these names so that students will see them as they enter the classroom: John J. Pershing; George C. Marshall; Dwight D. Eisenhower; Fox Conner. Ask students to tell what they know about these individuals, or at least to indicate if they have heard of them. Most likely, students will not know Fox Conner. If they are cognizant of the other persons, ask students to determine whether or not they might be recognized as American heroes, and to work together to develop definitions of a hero. Place the hero definitions on the board and allow students time to respond to all of them. (If time allows, have someone research Pershing, Marshall, and Eisenhower, and briefly share their military exploits with the class. Teacher may wish to do this to conserve time.)

DEVELOPING THE LESSON

Inform students that the subject of the lesson, Fox Conner, was a Mississippian and a contemporary and colleague of Marshall, Eisenhower, and Pershing, yet his name is not recognized by most people.

1. Ask students to list the possible reasons why an article about General Fox Conner was written.

2. Ask students to read the opening paragraphs of the Mississippi History Now article on Fox Conner and to write in their notebooks the following information:

  • General Conner’s connections to Mississippi;
  • Reasons for writing about General Conner.

3. Allow students to work in small groups to design a short timeline showing the military accomplishments of General Conner. Have them illustrate it if time allows.

4. Post the completed projects around the room and ask students to compare the information on them.

5. Still working collaboratively, students will discuss the reasons for writing the article. Ask them to determine, both as a group and individually, if they concur that the story of General Fox Conner is important to know.

CONCLUDING THE LESSON

Pose the question: “Is General Conner an American hero?” Ask students to review their definitions of a hero and to discuss in class an answer to the question.

Students will write an essay, citing specific examples, to either support or reject the reasons for writing about General Conner.

ASSESSING STUDENT LEARNING

• Participation in large and small group activities
• Completion of timeline
• Individual essay

EXTENDING THE LESSON

  • Students will write an article for a local newspaper to bring attention to the military career of a Mississippian.
  • Ask students to construct a list of “surprises” regarding General Conner to add to their timelines. (What about him, his life, or his career did they find surprising?)
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