Teddi K. Valeski

Teaching Blog and Portfolio

World War I, Why It is Forgotten, and How to Make it Relevant To Students Today


Think About a Great War that United States was Involved with…

I am assuming World War II, as Nazi symbols and epic battles in the Pacific came to mind first. World War II was an unique, fascinating but violent and gruesome war that we all love learning about (for the most part). What about the first World War, the Great War?

I have noticed that most students, and being a recent college student myself,  often forget about World War I. It is not that I forget that It happened… I simply known more about World War II and I am more fascinated with it, and I believe most students feel the same way after talking to them and observing this in class.

I feel that students do not find World War I as interesting, because it is harder to relate to. Students often replace it in their minds, like it is an older edition textbook, and World War II is the newer edition that provides colors and photos, unlike the older edition, that World War I is in greyscale and has long boring texts.

In order to fully understand World War II, World War I must be understood. World War I was not just a lead up to World War II however, it is important in its own right, very important.

The first thing, was to make it matter, relate it to the students lives, without comparing it too much to World War II.

Making World War I Relevant and Exciting for Students:

1. Relate it to today, to their lives to what is going on around them and what they see in the news.

New York Times Scholastic Upfront is a news magazine for high school students, and they published an article in May 2009 on how World War I matters today. I read many articles about this, but this is a simple version on where you can find some sources on why exactly World War I matters today and how it stiff affects the World. (Link to article)

2. Simulations and Games

I had the opportunity to teach World War I to 9th graders for a week during my Pre-Student Teaching II experience.

My host teacher wanted me to create a lesson for 9th graders on just the 14 Points. The treaties after World War I and the final Treaty of Versailles is critical to understand the future conflicts in Europe and the changes that occurred from it. I wanted to make a lesson that the students could relate to and have them be put in the European countries shoes, and especially on the after affect of the war with Wilson’s 14 Points as a base.

14 Points Lesson Plan

Mock Negotiation with the “Big Four”

I created a mock negotiation between the countries of Great Britain, France, Italy , and the United States. I pretended I was President Wilson, going to the other Allies with my proposal on what to do in Europe. I had the class into three groups, each represented on of the the Big Four, (not US, as I was the US in this case). They each had a goal sheet that stated their goals for the final treaty of WWI, and what they feel about the different countries in Europe, and what they had been through.

The students seemed to have fun with it, and they started to make connections to what the country felt, why they felt that way about the war, what problems they were concerned about after the war ended, and how Wilson’s 14 Points became the base of the treaty, but they didn’t agree with it because they wanted to punish Germany and how that actually caused future problems, and one of the causes of World War II.


Lesson Plan: “Understanding America’s War on Terror”


Contemporary Issues:

Terrorism: Understanding America’s War on Terror

I presented this lesson to 9th, 10th, and 11th graders during my Pre-Student Teaching I experience in 2010.  The students were in different classes, ranging from World History, Civics, and US History. I adapted this lesson to reach the needs of all three classes and students levels in each class. The activity and set-up of the lesson is shown in the lesson plan. The students seemed to be very interested in this topic and had many questions as well as participated greatly in the class activity and discussion.




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