This unit consists of three lessons which can be taught sequentially. It is also possible to use a single lesson if time constraints do not permit devoting four weeks to the study of World War I. Before beginning the unit, we provide students with background knowledge of World War I.
- Lesson One Introduction to American Memory and Primary Sources
Students are introduced to the resources of American Memory by viewing several "Today in History" pages which focus on World War I events. The teacher and librarian model the retrieval, display, and analysis of sample primary sources on these pages. We examine a photograph, newspaper article, song, and speech. Students analyze the primary sources, recording their thoughts on the Primary Source Analysis Tool. Before the students begin, select questions from the teacher's guide Analyzing Primary Sources to focus and prompt analysis and discussion. Primary sources are viewed online but backup hard copies can be made available.
Find complete directions for this lesson in the student Lesson One: Introduction to American Memory and Primary Sources.
- Lesson Two American Leaders Speak
Students explore the World War I-era recordings of American Leaders Speak. The background of the "The Nation's Forum Collection" is explained by means of the accompanying special presentation. Students listen to the recording of a speech chosen from a gallery of leaders. Students analyze the speech, recording their thoughts on the Primary Source Analysis Tool. Before the students begin, select questions from the teacher's guide Analyzing Recorded Sound to focus and prompt analysis and discussion. The teacher follows up with the question: "Select a theme, event or issue mentioned or alluded to in the speech that you with to further investigate". The teacher employs this feedback to assign each student to a relevant department or topic for the newspaper assignment in lesson three.
Find complete directions for this lesson in the student Lesson Two: American Leaders Speak.
- Lesson Three Newspaper Project
Students use their developing familiarity with American Memory and prior knowledge of WWI to create two WWI-era newspapers each with an opposing viewpoint regarding American involvement in the war effort. The newspaper staff includes a publisher and seven departments: Editorial Board, Mobilization Unit, Women and Minorities, Arts and Culture, Society, Leaders, and Photographic and Print Division. Each department receives a relevant newswire of issues and events (i.e., American Memory sources). Students explore American Memory (drawing upon search skills developed during lessons one and two) and write articles reporting the news of the day. When the two final products are published, students read, review, and analyze the opposing newspaper.
Find complete directions for this lesson in the student Lesson Three: Newspaper Project.
The newspaper project can be extended to other controversial world events (WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War, etc.)
The final product (WWI-period newspaper) may be published on the school Web site and used by other classes as a supplemental historical resource.
Students may continue to investigate pivotal 20th century conflicts and to use primary source material.