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The Great War


Jane Jones marks this year’s centenary of World War I with an in-depth investigation into life, death and lessons learned during the first global war in human history.

August 2014 marked the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. At the time, it was simply called the Great War – the war to end all wars. But there were wars before, and there have certainly been wars since, so why do we need to remember the events that occurred almost a century ago?

On 4 August 1914, Britain joined the bloodiest human conflict the world had ever known. It was a global war, a total war, and nothing would ever be the same again. Very few people from the participating nations remained unaffected. It was a war that reached out and touched everyone’s lives in some way, affecting all aspects of life at home.

Not only did it change lives, it forged the country we have today. The whole continent fell under the shadow of battle as the social structure of each participating nation changed. Children grew up without fathers as men were either fighting or lost, and it was left to the women to step into their places and ensure industry and agriculture continued to meet the nation’s needs.

The nature of this modern war soon became clear. Modern weapons caused casualties in numbers never before imagined, laying waste to whole communities. Soldiers fought in terrible conditions in trenches along the front line. Technology made huge advances, for better or for worse.

It was not just the casualties and deaths that affected society. From the ashes of some nations in Europe and the Middle East, new countries emerged. Russia, ravaged by revolution, became a new nation that decided it no longer needed a monarchy. A whole new world emerged with a League of Nations attempting to stabilise and bring order to the world.

Investigating aspects of the Great War helps pupils to understand our modern world. If we wish to understand today, we have to remember the past and ensure we do not forget. The last of the soldiers who fought in the Great War have gone. Few people who witnessed the war are still alive. We must not let the sacrifices made during this conflict and the changes it wrought slip beyond our memories.

 

This cross curricular project plan includes:

‘The Angel of Mons’ text
A non-fictional text explaining the events of the Battle of Mons – one of the first major battles of World War I – and the legend that surrounds the lack of casualties, despite the British being outnumbered and forced to retreat.

The text is available as a pdf and a separate word document (formatted to make mass printing easier and more cost effective). Both can be found in Activity 1 Resource Pack.

Activity 1: Reading the text
The purpose of this activity is to encourage active thinking and reading through close examination of the text, ‘The Angel of Mons’, using the reciprocal reading roles: summariser, predictor, clarifier, questioner.
Resource pack includes the text (as pdf and word document), instructions and:

  • Activity sheet 1a – Reading roles record sheet
  • Activity sheet 1b – RECALL strategy sheet (an alternative collection sheet to Activity sheet 1a)
  • Activity sheet 1c – Group roles cards (to cut out and assign to each student)
  • Activity sheet 1d – WOW worksheet (Working Out Words)

Activity 2: The path to war
Students identify events leading to the Great War, determining which causes were the most/least important, before examining one country's motives for joining the war in more detail.
Resource pack includes instructions and:

  • Activity sheet 2a – Student introduction
  • Activity sheet 2b – Research grid
  • Activity sheet 2c – Research log
  • Activity sheet 2d – Map of Europe in 1914
  • Activity sheet 2e – Country profile grid
  • Plus a series of country resource packs focusing on Austria-Hungary, France, Germany, Great Britain, Russia and Serbia and their role in the start of World War I.

Activity 3: Timeline of the Great War
Students create a timeline, covering events leading up to and during the Great War.
Resource pack includes instructions and:

  • Activity sheet 3a – Student introduction
  • Activity sheet 3b – Teacher’s timeline

Activity 4: Propaganda research exercise
Students use research skills to identify the purpose of propaganda and create a propaganda poster.
Resource pack includes instructions and:

  • Activity sheet 4a – Student introduction
  • Activity sheet 4b – Example answers/discussion points
  • Activity sheet 4c – Mindmap template
  • Activity sheet 4d – Propaganda posters

Activity 5: The sinking of the Lusitania
Students use research skills to identify the significance of the sinking of the Lusitania and write a descriptive account of this maritime disaster.
Resource pack includes instructions and:

  • Activity sheet 5a – Student introduction
  • Activity sheet 5b – Research log
  • Activity sheet 5c – Research grid
  • Activity sheet 5d – Lotus diagram template
  • Activity sheet 5e – Using the senses in descriptive writing
  • Activity sheet 5f – Pictorial evidence

Activity 6: The Trenches
Students use a range of resources to write diary entries and letters home from the trenches. The second section of this activity has students solving a number of mathematical problems relating to the trenches.
Resource pack includes instructions and:

  • Activity sheet 6a – ‘Daily Death in the Trenches’ text
  • Activity sheet 6b – Trench diagrams
  • Activity sheet 6c – Photographs of life in the Trenches
  • Activity sheet 6d – Trench maths
  • Activity sheet 6e – Mindmap template

Activity 7a: Gas attack
Students read and discuss the poem 'Dulce et Decorum est' by WW1 soldier, Wilfred Owen. From there, they either recreate the poem in drama, or write their own poem about a gas attack.
Resource pack includes instructions and:

  • Activity sheet 7a – ‘Gas Attack!’ text
  • Activity sheet 7b – Gases used during WW1
  • Activity sheet 7c – Three primary gases deployed during WW1
  • Activity sheet 7d – Casualties (statistics)
  • Activity sheet 7e – Written primary sources
  • Activity sheet 7f – Pictorial primary sources
  • Activity sheet 7g – ‘Dulce et Decorum est’ poem
  • Activity sheet 7h – ‘Dulce et Decorum est’ teacher’s notes
  • Activity sheet 7i – Idea collection sheet (poetry)
  • Activity sheet 7j – Image bank

Activity 7b: The ethics of chemical warfare
Students use prior knowledge from the previous activity to conduct a P4C enquiry into the use of poisonous gases during WW1. The starting point for this enquiry is the Hague Convention of 1899 which outlawed the use of chemical weapons.
Resource pack includes instructions and:

  • Activity sheet 7k – The Hague Convention 1899

Activity 8: Helping the wounded
A research task, focusing on advances in reconstructive surgery and prosthetic limbs during and soon after the First World War.
Resource pack includes instructions and:

  • Activity sheet 8 – Student introduction

Activity 9: Spies
Students research the link between 11 names, writing up a brief report of the events surrounding each person’s demise. The activity culminates with students drawing and justifying their conclusions as to the justness of each person’s fate.
Resource pack includes instructions and:

  • Activity sheet 9a – Student introduction
  • Activity sheet 9b – Mindmap template
  • Activity sheet 9c – Research log

Activity 10: Armistice
Students investigate the end of the Great War and the armistice, and its impact on Germany and the rest of Europe, drawing conclusions and presenting their findings.
Resource pack includes instructions and:

  • Activity sheet 10a – Student introduction
  • Activity sheet 10b – Factors contributing to the end of the war
  • Activity sheet 10c – Woodrow Wilson’s 14 points
  • Activity sheet 10d – Simplified version of Wilson’s 14 points
  • Activity sheet 10e – Transcript of the Armistice terms
  • Activity sheet 10f – Impact of the Armistice worksheet

Activity 11: Shot at dawn
Students use the text provided and their own research to write an argument either for or against pardoning the men who were executed for cowardice during WW1.
Resource pack includes instructions and:

  • Activity sheet 11 – ‘Shot at Dawn’ text

Activity 12: Statistics from the Great War
Students read and use data from World War I to produce comparative graphs.
Resource pack includes instructions and:

  • Activity sheet 12a – Statistics
  • Activity sheet 12b – Creating a graph in Microsoft Excel

Activity 13: Creating a culturegram
Students create a culturegram (an image bank) about the lives of people in 1914.
Resource pack includes instructions and:

  • Activity sheet 13a – Student introduction
  • Activity sheet 13b – Example culturegram

This project and its resource packs can be accessed for free with subscription to Creative Teaching & Learning or purchased for £36.

Top image: Tinelot Wittermans

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PDF

Project Plan: The Great War

It was supposed to be the war to end all wars, but have we learnt its lessons? Jane Jones commemorates the centenary of the First World War with an in-depth investigation into life and death on the front line during the bloodiest human conflict the world had ever known.
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Activity 1 Resource Pack: Reading the text

The Great War: Activity 1. The purpose of this activity is to encourage active thinking and reading through close examination of the text, ‘The Angel of Mons’, using the reciprocal reading roles: summariser, predictor, clarifier, questioner.
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Unknown Type

Activity 2 Resource Pack: The path to war

The Great War: Activity 2. Students identify events leading to the Great War, determining which causes were the most/least important, before examining one country's motives for joining the war in more detail.
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Activity 3 Resource Pack: Timeline of the Great War

The Great War: Activity 3. Students create a timeline, covering events leading up to and during World War I.
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Activity 4 Resource Pack: Propaganda research exercise

The Great War: Activity 4. Students use research skills to identify the purpose of propaganda and create a propaganda poster.
MS Word

Activity 5 Resource Pack: The sinking of the Lusitania

The Great War: Activity 5. Students use research skills to identify the significance of the sinking of the Lusitania and write a descriptive account of this maritime disaster.
spacer
MS Word

Activity 6 Resource Pack: The Trenches

The Great War: Activity 6. Students use a range of resources to write diary entries and letters home from the trenches. The second section of this activity has students solving a number of mathematical problems relating to the trenches.
MS Word

Activity 7a Resource Pack: Gas attack

The Great War: Activity 7a. Students read and discuss the poem 'Dulce et Decorum est' by WW1 soldier, Wilfred Owen. From there, they either recreate the poem in drama, or write their own poem about a gas attack.
spacer
MS Word

Activity 7b Resource Pack: The ethics of chemical warfare

The Great War: Activity 7b. Students conduct a P4C enquiry into the use of poisonous gases during WW1. The starting point for this enquiry is the Hague Convention of 1899 which outlawed the use of chemical weapons.
MS Word

Activity 8 Resource Pack: Helping the wounded

The Great War: Activity 8. A research task, focusing on advances in reconstructive surgery and prosthetic limbs during and soon after the First World War.
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MS Word

Activity 9 Resource Pack: Spies

The Great War: Activity 9. Students research the link between 11 names, writing up a brief report of the events surrounding each person’s demise. The activity culminates with students drawing and justifying their conclusions as to the justness of each person’s fate.
MS Word

Activity 10 Resource Pack: Armistice

The Great War: Activity 10. Students investigate the end of the Great War and the armistice, and its impact on Germany and the rest of Europe, drawing conclusions and presenting their findings.
spacer
MS Word

Activity 11 Resource Pack: Shot at dawn

The Great War: Activity 11. Students use the text provided and their own research to write an argument either for or against pardoning the men who were executed for cowardice during WW1.
MS Word

Activity 12 Resource Pack: Statistics from the Great War

The Great War: Activity 12. Students read and use data from World War I to produce comparative graphs.
spacer
MS Word

Activity 13 Resource Pack: Creating a culturegram

The Great War: Activity 13. Students create a culturegram (an image bank) about the lives of people in 1914.
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