Sunday is the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, marking the end of the First World War.
I originally wrote this blog post for Memorial Day, but I'm pinning it and adding content to it for Veterans Day.
There's a great new resource for teaching Arizona standards that touch on WWI, Arizona Heroes of WWI. It's a series of one hour documentaries produced to commemorate the 100th anniversary of WWI. At the webpage, the producers provide an amazing list of Arizonans who participated in WWI, a fact sheet about Arizona's participation in WWI, and a 4 minute clip of highlights from the film. There are 15 episodes to choose from! Truly a teaching treasure for those 7th grade standards on WWI.
All of these resources, and the following literature teaching unit, hit Common Core Social Studies Standards S2.C8.PO1-2 and S3.C5.PO1.
I used literature to teach World War I and II, in part because no matter what information students are presented with, it's difficult for them to make connections to the pain and suffering those events caused. This is a generation that hasn't seen wide-spread national participation in a war, and for many students, wars have only distantly or tangentially affected their daily lives. I found showing the effects of war on animals sparks their senses of injustice and invokes their empathy.
For WWI, I used War Horse and its technique of personification to reinforce CC Social Studies standards. The publisher offers a teaching guide and materials. While helpful, my 8th grade students were capable of so much more. Many also know of the movie, which I also used (send home a parental permission slip, noting the language and violence, and have alternatives ready for students whose parents object) , but the real gem I discovered for teaching this novel was the War Horse UK Tour. This stage production still has a wonderful website, with excellent teaching materials on World War I.
I used the article, "The Horse Goes to War," by Robert Butler, along with the painting referenced in the article, to show the effects of the technological changes on tactics in WWI. Students recognize immediately the horrific implications of tanks, machine guns, chlorine gas, and barbed wire that revolutionized, and ultimately dehumanized, war.
I bought class copies of the book. Students listened to the audio and followed along in the book in class. After reading, they formed Literature Circles (there are LOTS of great teaching resources for conducting Lit Circles; use the ones you're most familiar with) to complete comprehension questions, draw maps of the changing front lines, create timelines, and recruitment posters, and read and examine additional articles related to how technology developed and was deployed in WWI.