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Teacher Feature

Teacher Feature

5-Star Brilliance


Students will use the 5-Star Generals $5 coin to synthesize information about leadership through primary and secondary sources.


The 2013 5-Star Generals $5 coin features a portrait of General Douglas MacArthur beside the 5-star insignia.  The reverse features the Leavenworth Lamp, the symbol of the United States Army Command and General Staff College.  Read the May Coin of the Month to learn more.

Tell the students the U.S. Army rank of 5-Star General was only specifically handed out under the most extreme of circumstances during both World War II and the Korean War.  Ask the students to name the 5 star generals who attended or taught at United States Army Command and General Staff College (Douglas MacArthur, George C. Marshall, Henry "Hap" Arnold, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Omar N. Bradley).  Record the names on chart paper.

Point out that the $1 silver coin features Generals George C. Marshall and Dwight D. Eisenhower and the half-dollar clad coin features portraits of Generals Henry "Hap" Arnold and Omar N. Bradley.

Divide the class into five groups and use information from the May Coin of the Month, class discussions, and other available classroom resources (both primary and secondary) to have the students research the lives and accomplishments of the 5-star generals.  Have the students incorporate current events from that time and record and illustrate their research findings on 5" x 8" index cards using a predetermined color.

As a class, discuss each 5-star general.  During the discussion, have representatives from the student groups add their index cards to a large timeline explaining specific accomplishments and facts about the general they researched.  The accomplishments of all five men should be represented on one timeline, with the information color-coded to differentiate.  Have the students analyze and share key information from the timeline.

Have the students write a 5-paragraph essay synthesizing the research and current events from the timeline.

As an extension, invite the students to choose one 5-star general and create a multimedia presentation, scrapbook or one-act play highlighting the man and current events of the time.

Make a Connection

The Commemorative Coins page is a great way to share coins that honor famous people, places, and events with your students.

Through the Serving Our Nation Lesson Plan, students will read about and research the lives of specific war veterans to compare their similarities and differences.

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