National AIDS Memorial Part III

National AIDS Memorial (Part III)

A Field Trip to a Grove of Healing

Author: Carly Solberg, Lillian Guo


Subject: History


Topic:  Integrated; US Domestic Policy and Social Problems/Policies, Government Response to Social Changes


Grade Levels: High School; 11


This lesson seeks to bridge students’ own experiences with mourning and healing to those of people affected by the AIDS crisis. It is vital that students understand the serious impact that the AIDS epidemic had and continues to have on lives. In the course of these three connected lesson plans, students will be mentally prepared to enter into the healing space of The Grove.


Time: 50 minutes, plus a half day-long field trip (depending on proximity to Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, CA)


Lesson Objectives:

Students will:

  • Be reminded of the immense impact of the United States AIDS crisis of the 1980s
  • Explore their own ways of mourning and healing using art supplies and their words
  • Learn the history of the National AIDS Memorial in San Francisco, CA and visit the site


Essential Questions:

Why is a physical space for mourning important to people? How is it specifically important to those affected by AIDS?

How does our government lack taking responsibility for the AIDS epidemic?



11.11 HSS: Students analyze the major social problems and domestic policy issues in contemporary American society.



Mourning: the expression of deep sorrow for someone or something that has past on, or changed drastically


Memorial: something designated to preserve the memory of someone or something


Teacher Background:

Teacher is encouraged to watch AIDS crisis documentaries such as United in Anger: The History of ACT UP in order to fully understand the intensity of the topic. Teacher must arrange a field trip tour of the National AIDS Memorial.



  • Internet-connected computer
  • A projector
  • Colored writing utensils
  • Copies of H.R. 3193
  • Paper (1 per student)



Pre Field Trip

  1. Presentation and bill analysis (20 mins)
    1. Open the presentation and review with students what they have learned about the AIDS crisis so far
    2. When the slide with H.R. 3193 approaches, pass out one copy of the bill each student. Call on students to read the bill, section by section aloud. Remind students to annotate while they read by highlighting or underlining things that stand out to them, and by taking notes/writing questions in the margins.
    3. Have students analyze the bill by considering several questions:
      1. What is the tone of the bill?
      2. What is missing?
      3. Are gay people mentioned? Why or why not?
  2. Healing places (20 mins)
    1. When the “Healing place” slide approaches, pass out pieces of blank paper to each student. Hand out colored writing utensils as well. Give them 10 minutes to write about/draw out their healing spaces.
    2. Either in a large group, or in pairs, have students share about their healing space. Remind students that they are welcome to share as much or as little as they’d like, but that they should focus on discussing:
      1. Why their healing space is important to them
      2. Describing the physical aspects of the healing space
      3. How their healing space makes them feel personally, and how it impacts/shifts their mood (From what to what? Sad to peaceful? Stressed to calm?)
  3. Conclusion (10 mins)
    1. Ask the class to discuss as a group why it is important for there to be a physical place of healing specific to the AIDS crisis. Encourage students to connect what they know and understand about their own healing space to answer this question.
    2. Show the final video in the presentation. Before departing on the field trip, remind students to be aware of their presence at the Grove, and to think about:
      1. What they see, smell, hear, and touch
      2. What they experience and feel; what emotions are evoked by being present in the space
      3. How what they have learned about the AIDS crisis in previous lessons is represented in the space


Recommended Post Field Trip Extension:


Relevant Resources:

AIDS Memorial Grove Act of 1996. H.R. 3193, 104th Congress.


Dayton, Tian. “Why We Grieve: The Importance of Mourning Loss.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 3 Apr. 2017.


Litvack, Emily. “How Memorials Make Us Remember-and Forget.” Futurity, 4 Nov. 2016.


“A Timeline of HIV and AIDS.” HIV.gov, 27 Mar. 2018, www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/history/hiv-and-aids-timeline.

Additional Resources 

PowerPoint PDF 

Lesson plan PDF 

Author Information:

Carly Solberg is a Summer 2018 Education Curriculum Intern at Our Family Coalition in San Francisco, CA, and a Women, Gender and Queer Studies student at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, CA.


Lillian Guo is an undergrad student studying Learning Sciences at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, and is a Summer 2018 Education intern at Our Family Coalition in San Francisco, CA.

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