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World War I

The War to End All Wars

World War I

Unit Summary

High school history students begin a journey to discover the answer to the Unit Question: Could this “war to end all wars” have been prevented? by investigating the causes of World War I. They create a newspaper answering the Content Questions: What are the four M.A.I.N causes of World War I (militarism, alliances, imperialism, and nationalism)? and What events led to the outbreak of World War I? The students then use the Visual Ranking Tool to rank which of the causes was the most influential in the start of the war and defend their position. After a class discussion on the causes of the War, students complete a map of Europe prior to the outbreak of the War using a paint program to label countries and color code them according to which side they were on. Students use information from primary sources written by WWI soldiers. Then they participate in a simulated trench warfare activity. Based on this experience, they write journal entries or letters to a family member as if they were soldiers in the trenches. Students then examine the objectives and tools of propaganda and do research on WWI propaganda from several different countries to study the impact that propaganda had on the home front. Students conclude this unit by creating a multimedia presentation analyzing how propaganda was used in different countries. Students use rubrics and checklists to plan and monitor their work.  As a concluding activity, students compare the propaganda of World War I to the present day and discuss how propaganda has an influence on their lives today. To culminate this unit, students complete an essay test about World War I.

Curriculum-Framing Questions

  • Essential Question:
    Why is there conflict?
  • Unit Questions:
    Could the “war to end all wars” have been prevented?
    Is propaganda necessary? 
  • Content Questions:
    What are the four M.A.I.N causes of World War I?
    What is propaganda

Assessment Plan

Assessment Timeline 
This timeline shows in chronological order the different types of formal and informal assessments that occur during the unit. The table below explains how each assessment is used and who uses it for what purpose.

Assessment Timeline

Before project
work begins
Students work on projects
and complete tasks
After project work
is complete

  • Brain-
    storming
  • Discussion
  • Journals
  • World Map
  • Newspaper Checklist and Rubric
  • Map
  • Anecdotal Observations
  • Collaboration Self-Assessment Checklist
  • Collaboration Peer Assessment Rubric
  • Collaboration Reflection
  • Revised Map
  • Journal
  • Decision-Making Checklist
  • WWI Journal and Letters Rubric
  • Discussion
  • Propaganda Presentation Checklist and Rubric
  • Propaganda Presentation Peer Feedback
  • Informal Interviews
  • Project Rubrics
  • Final Essay Test Rubric
  • Final Reflection

 

Assessment Process and Purpose of Assessment
Brainstorming Students brainstorm reasons why wars occur to demonstrate what they know about the topic and what misconceptions they may have. This information helps the teacher assess students’ understanding and plan activities that meet students’ needs.
Discussion Frequently throughout the unit, students discuss relevant topics to activate background knowledge. Notes on students’ contributions to the discussion are used to plan instruction and to provide individual and group feedback.
Journals Students write in their journals throughout the unit to explore their thoughts on a variety of subjects. The information from these journal entries is used to provide individual and group feedback as students work on their projects.
World Maps Students color-code maps of the world identifying which countries participated in WWI and which side they were on. These maps help the teacher assess what students know about the countries that participated in the war. Students assess their own growth later in the unit by making new maps and comparing these maps to the original ones.
Newspaper Checklist (doc)
Students use this checklist to monitor their progress while conducting research and creating their newspapers.
Newspaper Rubric (doc)
This rubric is used by students as they work on their newspapers to make sure their work is high quality and by teachers at the end of the project to assign grades to students’ work.
Anecdotal Notes The teacher observes students as they are working on their newspapers and take notes on their understanding of the concepts they are studying and their collaboration skills. This information is used to prepare mini-lessons on collaboration and to organize instruction on World War I.
Collaboration Self-Assessment Checklist (doc)
This checklist is used by individual students throughout the newspaper project to self-assess their collaboration skills.
Collaboration Peer-Assessment Rubric (doc)
Students use this rubric to assess the collaboration skills of their group members.
Collaboration Reflection After creating the WWI newsletter with their groups, students use their Collaboration Self-Assessment Checklist to reflect on how well they worked with others.
Group Conferences The teacher meets briefly with each group to ask questions about their progress and make sure their checklists are accurate and up to date.
Decision-Making Checklist (doc)
The checklist is used by students in small groups to help them think logically and systematically about the United States’ decision to enter World War I.
WWI Journal and Letters Rubric (doc)
Students use these rubrics as they work on their journal or letters to make sure they are including all the necessary components and doing high-quality work. The rubrics are also used to assess the final product.
Propaganda Presentation Checklist (doc)
Students use this checklist to monitor their progress as they are working on their presentations.
Propaganda Presentation Peer Feedback (doc)
This form is filled out by students in a small group when the students practice their presentations to give presenters information about how they can improve their presentations.
Propaganda Presentation Rubric (doc)
Students use this rubric as they work on their presentations to make sure they are including all the necessary components and doing high-quality work. The teacher also uses this rubric to assess the final product.
Informal Interviews As students are working on their presentations, the teacher meets briefly with each student to review the student’s checklist and discuss progress on the project.
Final Essay Test Rubric (doc)
Students use this rubric to organize their thoughts on the final essay question and to plan what they are going to write. It is also used to assess the final essay.
Reflection In this end-of-unit reflection, students assess their own learning during the unit and set goals for future learning experiences. The teacher and students use this information to track learning throughout the year.

Credits

Johanna Van Ness created the idea for this assessment plan. A team of teachers expanded the plan into the example you see here.

World War I

At a Glance

Grade Level: 9-12

Subject: American History

Topics: WWI, Propaganda

Higher-Order Thinking Skills: Cause and Effect, Decision Making, Analysis

Key Learnings: Four Main Causes of World War I, Trench Warfare, US Entry into WWI, Propaganda, Treaty of Versailles

Time Needed: 4 weeks of 1 hour classes