Lesson One: Background Information/Prelude to War
Bell Activity: (to be done by students at the beginning of class) Distribute copies of Wilfred Owen's poem Dulce et Decorum Est, which can be found at Emory University's website. Have students read the poem and then journal what they believe Owen is trying to convey about his experiences during World War I.
Map Exercise: Distribute a blank map of Europe and a map of Africa in 1914. Have students fill in as many countries as they can for the blank European map. Some students will notice that there are countries on this map that no longer exist (like Austria-Hungary). Help them finish filling out their maps and talk about the economic and military competition that was going on in Europe on the eve of war. Illustrate the point with the African map, pointing out how much of the continent had been colonized at this point. Describe the series of military alliances that had arisen by 1914. Triple Entente: England - France - Russia Central Powers: Germany - Austria-Hungary - Ottoman Empire.
Primary Source Reading: Print the speech by Navy War College founder Alfred Thayer Mahan, "The United States Looking Outward." Depending upon the level of readers in your class, use as much of the speech as you think they can digest.
Ask students what they take away from the reading. Discuss the industrial, financial, and military growth of the United States after the Civil War. Mention the growth of the navy under Mahan and Benjamin Tracy, the rise of imperialism, the Spanish-American War, the Monroe Doctrine, and the Roosevelt Corollary.
Homework: Have students find definitions for the following vocabulary terms. Most of these can be found in any U.S. History textbook. Adapt as needed.
1. Woodrow Wilson
3. Zimmerman Telegram
4. Submarine warfare
5. Battle of Belleau Wood
7. "Over There"
8. General John J. Pershing
9. Vladimir Lenin
11. Sedition Act
12. Wilson's 14 Points
13. Henry Cabot Lodge
14. Sergeant Alvin York