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World War I and Its Aftermath image
World War I and Its Aftermath
Grade level: 9-12 Subject: U.S. History Duration: One or two class periods

lesson plan support
Students will
  • discuss what the termnationalismmeans;
  • research this concept as it relates to the beginning of World War I; and
  • participate in a debate about the pros and cons of nationalism.
  • Newsprint and markers
  • Paper and pencils
  • Computer with Internet access
  • World War I and Its Aftermathvideo and VCR
  1. Ask students if they know what the termnationalismmeans. Write their ideas on a sheet of newsprint. If students have some understanding, they may make suggestions such as the following:

    • Nationalism is just like patriotism.
    • Nationalism is when people identify with their country.
    • Nationalism is extreme love of one's country.

  2. Tell students that they are going to be examining nationalism during World War I. Explain that they will first research the role nationalism played in European countries right before the beginning of World War I. Then, they will debate whether nationalism was a positive or negative influence. One side will take the position that it was positive, the other that it was negative. Divide the class into the two groups.
  3. Show theRise of Nationalismsegment of the video to set the stage of what this time period was like Europe.
  4. Give students time in class to conduct their research. The following Web sites have useful information for both sides:
  5. After each group has completed its research, hold the debate in class. Give each side about 5 minutes to present its argument and about 10 minutes for a rebuttal.
  6. Conclude the lesson by bringing students back together for a final class discussion. Based on the debate, which side do students think "won"? Do they believe nationalism was a positive or negative force in pre-World War I Europe? Did it contribute to the outbreak of World War I? Encourage students to identify sources to support their position.

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Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students' work during this lesson.
  • Three points:Students participated actively in class discussions; completed their research carefully and thoroughly; presented clear, thoughtful arguments during the debate.
  • Two points:Students participated in class discussions; completed their research; presented competent arguments during the debate.
  • One point:Students participated little in class discussions; had difficulty completing their research; did not present convincing arguments during the debate.

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  • Follow up on the class discussion by asking each student to write a short essay summarizing his or her position. Remind students to state their argument clearly and to provide sources to support their ideas.
  • Show students theDeath from Above: The Red Baronsegment from the video. Discuss how historians were able to solve the mystery of who shot the Red Baron. Have students create a chart showing the different phases of the historians' investigation.
  • Another famous mystery is the disappearance of Amelia Earhart in 1937. Have students research different theories of what caused her disappearance. These Web sites are good places to start:

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    Definition:Agreements between countries; the two main alliances formed before World War I were the Central Powers and the Allied Powers.
    Context:Countries formed alliances before World War I because they were scared and thought having the agreements would put them in a better position to help each other in the case of war.

    Allied Powers
    Definition:The alliance between France, Great Britain, Russian, Italy, and the United States that fought together during World War I
    Context:Although the Allied Powers won World War I, victory came at a tremendous cost to all countries involved.

    Central Powers
    Definition:An alliance consisting of Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, Germany, and the Ottoman Empire
    Context:The Central Powers were weakened considerably as a result of World War I.

    Definition:A sense of extreme pride or loyalty to a particular country
    Context:Historians are still debating the role nationalism played in the outbreak of World War I.

    World War I
    Definition:A war that lasted from 1914 to 1918 and involved more countries and caused greater destruction than any previous war
    Context:World War I devastated Europe and resulted in the deaths of almost 10 million soldiers.

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    This lesson plan addresses the following curriculum standards created by the National Council for the Social Studies:
    • Culture
    • People, Places, and Environments
    • Individuals, Groups, and Institutions
    • Power, Authority, and Governance

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    Marilyn Fenichel, education writer and editor

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