Learn how technological advances in WWI usher in modern warfare
- Internet access
- Video: Section 1, “The Start of WWI”; Section 2, “Life in the Trenches”
- Teacher Primer page
- Life in the Trenches Activity Sheet
- Test Your Smarts: WWI’s New Ways of War Activity Sheet
- Answer key
- Pass out copies of the Life in the Trenches Activity Sheet.
Step 1: Share Section 1 of the video at scholastic.com/thegreatwar and discuss the start of WWI using the Teacher Primer as well as key video points: the tensions among the Great Powers, the fight over control of territories, nationalism, and the archduke’s assassination.
Step 2: As a class, listen to audio of soldiers’ accounts of gas attacks and ask students to take notes:
Write out terms as they are mentioned in the audio, for instance: artillery, infantry, gas, machine guns, trenches, parapet. Then discuss how these made WWI the first modern war. Ask:
What are the moral implications of chemical war?
Also have students consider the value of hearing firsthand historical accounts.
Step 3: Assign the following research topics: The stalemate on the Western Front, including the idea that the war would be “over by Christmas”; the Schlieffen Plan. Chemical warfare and the devastating use of poison gas, which injured and killed hundreds of thousands of people; postwar chemical weapons ban. Trench life on the Western Front, including days of monotony and routine, followed by sudden battle and terror; unsanitary conditions; diseases like trench foot; psychological damage/shell shock.
Step 4: Have students use their research to discuss the realities of being a WWI soldier. Wrap up by showing Section 2 of the video. Discuss the different types of trenches that were built on the Western Front.
Step 5: Hand out the Life in the Trenches Activity Sheet. Have students use their research from Step 3 to complete the assignment.
Test Your Smarts: WWI’s New Ways of War Activity Sheet