Students learn about the lead up to World War I, the interwar period including the Russian Revolution and the rise of fascism, and World War II.
The World Wars unit contains 10 learning experiences.
Learning Experiences (Lessons) in The World Wars Each learning experience takes about 45 minutes to teach in the device-enabled classroom.
The Leadup to World War I
Students brainstorm the causes of the American Revolution as an example of identifying underlying causes versus trigger events. Then they create a chart of the underlying causes of World War I: militarism, alliances, imperialism, and nationalism. Next they read Sir Edward Grey’s speech to the British Parliament and state an opinion as to whether Britain should have entered World War I. Finally they examine the U.S. policy of isolationism and the nation’s entrance into the war, and then reflect on whether a superpower has an obligation to support its allies.
World War I
Students brainstorm when or why the Great War was renamed World War I. Then they learn about the course of the war. Next they explain how new technology impacted fighting during the war. Finally they analyze a poem by World War I poet Mary Borden.
The Aftermath of World War I
Students watch a video and create a KW chart. Then they learn about Wilson’s Fourteen Points and the Treaty of Versailles and create a Venn diagram comparing and contrasting them. They analyze how the Treaty of Versailles contributed to the outbreak of World War II. Next they study how the map of Europe changed as a result of World War I and explain how state borders do not always take into account culture and politics. Finally they research one of three topics related to the post-World War I period: the League of Nations, the influenza pandemic, or the changing role of women in society.
The Russian Revolution
Students make predictions about the Russian Revolution based on the Bolshevik slogan “Peace, Land, and Bread!” Then they learn about the Revolution and create a timeline. Next they learn about the early Soviet Union and explain the relationship between Karl Marx and the Russian Revolution. Finally they analyze a political cartoon about the Red Scare in the United States.
The Rise of Fascism
Students brainstorm the differences between limited and unlimited governments. Then they learn about totalitarianism in general terms, including both Fascism and Communism. Next they focus on the rise of Nazism in Germany and they explain the connection between World War I and the political developments in Germany. Finally they learn about Fascism in Imperial Japan and they analyze a Japanese propaganda poster.
The Outbreak of World War II
Students watch historic video of the opening ceremony of the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin and take a poll about a possible boycott of the games. Then they learn about developments in Germany and Japan leading up to the outbreak of World War II, and they create a timeline of key events. Next they briefly research one of five other leaders related to World War II and evaluate their role in the start of the war. Finally the students learn about the U.S. policy of neutrality and Roosevelt’s actions before entry into the war.
The Course of World War II
Students predict on a map which nations remained neutral during World War II. Next they focus on the European front, followed by the Pacific front. Then they discuss a major event as a turning point in World War II. Finally they prepare an explanation for a fifth-grader about how World War II was fought.
Students view a famous photograph from the period of the Holocaust and brainstorm the thoughts of one of the people depicted. Then they learn about the Holocaust and create a timeline. Next they analyze the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and they imagine the reaction of Allied soldiers liberating a concentration camp. Finally they analyze Martin Niemöller’s speech, “They came for…”
The Atomic Bomb
Students view a historic photo of a nuclear mushroom cloud and write a caption for it. Then they learn about the Manhattan Project and the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan, and they create a chart summarizing three reasons for the decision to deploy nuclear weapons. Next they analyze the sides in the debate over the decision to drop the atomic bomb, including a historian’s presentation of new evidence in support of the deployment. Students explain how historic interpretation changes as new information becomes available. Finally students review some eyewitness accounts of the atomic bombings and write an imaginary diary entry.
The End of World War II
Students begin by brainstorming possible solutions to postwar devastation, based on the aftermath of World War II. Then, they examine the end of the war in both the European theater and the occupation and reconstruction of Japan. Next, they analyze efforts led by the United States to rebuild Europe, especially through the Marshall Plan. Finally, they evaluate the role of the United Nations.