The Experience of World War One
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This unit forms part of the World War One materials at ActiveHistory:

Causes of World War One

Life in the Trenches in World War One

Causes for Germany's Defeat in World War One

Remembrance Day: Activities for all Year Groups

Battlefields Trip: itinerary, workpack and follow-up activities

Origins of WW1 and WW2: Comparisons and Contrasts

 


Decision-Making Simulation: Can you survive life in the trenches? [FREE]

"In this simulation you will be a British soldier who joins the army in 1914 to fight the Germans. You will learn about the conditions which soldiers lived and fought in, and the dangers they faced. There is a worksheet to go with this activity which you should complete as you proceed.  You can also save your progress at any time so you can continue the game over several lessons or as homework. There is even a leaderboard!"

Life in the Trenches! [earlier version]
A decision making game, complete with worksheet and extension activities. A good way into the topic. This version is a simpler version of the newer simulation, more suitable for younger students or for classes with less time to devote to the investigation.

Timeline Activity
Students should then move on to produce a timeline of the Western Front using this excellent animation from the BBC.

Web Research Task
I then get students to produce a PowerPoint Presentation for the class based on a key theme of trench warfare using the BBC Flash Movies. This sample worksheet gives an idea about how to set the lesson up.

Propaganda and Censorship
Propaganda and Censorship: How did the British government respond to the recruitment crisis? - a PowerPoint Presentation complete with questions. There is also a PowerPoint Presentation on The Defence of the Realm Act.

Empathetic Account
Students should produce a four-part story from a solider's perspective covering the following points:
Paragraph 1: Establishes who you are and why you joined
Paragraph 2: Outlines how the trench system came to be established
Paragraph 3: The different types of trenches*
Paragraph 4: What life was like in the trenches*
*For these final two sections, students should use the World War One Summary Pages.

In-Depth Investigation
Old Wulfrunians who died in WW1 (designed for students at my old school, but it might be of interest to other schools considering a similar project).

War Poetry
War poetry - worksheet A photocopiable worksheet of World War One poems, complete with questions. There is also a PowerPoint Presentation to accompany the task. I like to introduce this lesson by reading "1914" by Philip Larkin, and "In Memoriam" by Ewart Alan Mackintosh (both available on the web through a Google search!). This was a very literary age – there was no TV, radio, computers; the war generation was the first to have mass literacy thanks to the liberal reforms of the 1870’s; reading and writing books and poems provided both an escape from and a way of dealing with the horrors being faced, and language had to develop to meet the new challenges. “No man’s land”, “Tactics”, “Over the Top”, “Lousy”, “Souvenir”, “Rank and File” and “Trenchcoat” are all words introduced into the language at this time.

The Battle of the Somme
Students conduct a debate on the issues of whether Haig was a good General, whether the battle plan was crazy, and whether it achieved its objectives. They do this by:
(a) Completing this worksheet as the teacher goes through The Battle of the Somme PowerPoint;
(b) Completing this investigation workpack about the Somme Offensive.

Interactive Factual Tests
To consolidate knowledge and understanding before the sourcework exercise which follows, get students to take the following tests and jot down the highest scores they get at the end of the session:

Alternatively, get all the students playing the Fling the Teacher Quiz, and give each student a ranking based on how quickly they finish it compared to the others.

Sourcework Exercise
This is a good point at which to set students to work on this sourcework exercise (which comes complete with a markscheme).

Why did Germany lose the War?
Students produce a 4-part newspaper report over several lessons based on this format:
1. Narrative of short term causes - using this interactive running dictation exercise.
2. Analysis of which short term events were most important - using this interactive jigsaw-table exercise.
3. Mid-term factors - using this worksheet.
4. Long-term factors - using this worksheet.

Students then use this work to complete an essay question based on either a thematic or a chronological structure, depending on ability.

Play Your Dates Right Quiz
World War One, 1914-1918 - a good way to round the unit off!

Social, Political, Economic and Cultural Consequences of World War One in Germany, Britain and the USSR
Students should open a copy of this table, and fill the gaps by playing one of the following quizzes:

"Who Am I?" Challenge - The Events of World War One
Each team will be presented with a clue about a key historical figure. They get 50 points if they guess it correctly. If they wish to 'pass', they get further (easier) clues but the points available steadily decline. An incorrect guess at any point means they get zero points for that round. You can play as many rounds as you wish. It's a great way to revise!

 


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