Good Friends Fight Together: Alliances of WWI

Featured Image: Source

Introduction of this Document-Based Lesson:

Historical Context:

Alliances between various European nations leading up to 1914 was one of the leading causes of World War 1. After the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in June 1914, Europe was thrust into chaos, and each country had call upon their alliances and decide which side of the war to join.

Classroom Context:

This lesson is designed for a 9th grade Modern World History class during Comprehensive Distance Learning (CDL). This class just finished a unit about European imperialism in the 19th and early 20th Centuries, which thematically and chronologically leads into this new unit about WWI. This activity introduces the causes of WWI and can be delivered synchronously or asynchronously during CDL on the first day of the unit.

Essential Questions:

How did European alliances prior to WWI shape the course of the war?

How do relationships between individual nations affect larger global events?

In this lesson, students will examine various primary source documents to determine each country’s alliances and rationale for picking their side in this Great War. They will build historical thinking skills of chronological thinking (cause and effect), specifically examining the role of alliances in the escalation of the conflict from the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand to various countries declaring war.

Next Steps: This lesson will prepare students for the following class, which will cover the events and battles immediately following the outbreak of war in 1914. Knowledge of the key actors and alliances gained during this lesson will be vital in understanding the interactions between the two sides of the war.

Google Forms Activity:

This lesson is delivered via a differentiated Google Form. This allows students to “choose their own adventure” by determining the order in which they progress through the countries; however, students will examine all 7 documents before submitting the form. They will first begin by reading a page of context about the state of Europe and the assignation of Franz Ferdinand, then they will decide whether to begin with Serbia or with Austria-Hungary. Depending on their choice, the Google Form will progress as follows:

Track 1: Serbia –> Russia –> France –> Great Britain –> Track 2


Track 2: Austria-Hungary –> Germany –> Italy –> Track 1

Each page includes a primary source document (image, political cartoon, treaty, etc.) describing that country’s alliances and motivations. Students will examine each source and then answer 2-3 scaffolding analysis questions. When they finish which the questions, they will advance onto the next country’s page.

The link to the Google Form is available: here

For ease of access, each country’s context, primary source, and questions are also included on this page below.

Country 1: Serbia

Context: The Balkans (where Serbia is) has been an area of particular instability. The decline of the Ottoman Empire and the increasing power of Austria-Hungary have led to battle to control the region. In 1908-09 your neighboring Slavic country, Bosnia, was taken over by Austria-Hungary. You fear and hate Austria-Hungary as a threat to your national identity. You know that any day now there is going to be an almighty fight. As you are small and weak country, you rely on your connections to Russia to protect you. After Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated on your soil, Austria-Hungary sent you an ultimatum (a final demand).

Primary Source: “The Austro-Hungarian Ultimatum to Serbia– English Translation,” sent to Serbia on July 23, 1914

Vienna, July 22, 1914

Your Excellency will present the following note to the Royal Government on the afternoon of Thursday, July 23: On the 31st of March, 1909, the Royal Serbian Minister at the Court of Vienna made, in the name of his Government, the following declaration to the Imperial and Royal Government:


The results brought out by the inquiry no longer permit the Imperial and Royal Government to maintain the attitude of patient tolerance which it has observed for years toward those agitations which center at Belgrade and are spread thence into the territories of the Monarchy. Instead, these results impose upon the Imperial and Royal Government the obligation to put an end to those intrigues, which constitute a standing menace to the peace of the Monarchy.

In order to attain this end, the Imperial and Royal Government finds itself compelled to demand that the Serbian Government give official assurance that it will condemn the propaganda directed against Austria-Hungary, that is to say, the whole body of the efforts whose ultimate object it is to separate from the Monarchy territories that belong to it; and that it will obligate itself to suppress with all the means at its command this criminal and terroristic propaganda. In order to give these assurances a character of solemnity, the Royal Serbian Government will publish on the first page of its official organ of July 26/13, the following declaration:

“The Royal Serbian Government condemns the propaganda directed against Austria-Hungary, that is to say, the whole body of the efforts whose ultimate object it is to separate from the Austro- Hungarian Monarchy territories that belong to it, and it most sincerely regrets the dreadful consequences of these criminal transactions.

“The Royal Serbian Government regrets that Serbian officers and officials should have taken part in the above-mentioned propaganda and thus have endangered the friendly and neighborly relations, to the cultivation of which the Royal Government had most solemnly pledged itself by its declarations of March 31, 1909.

“The Royal Government, which disapproves and repels every idea and every attempt to interfere in the destinies of the population of whatever portion of Austria-Hungary, regards it as its duty most expressly to call attention of the officers, officials, and the whole population of the kingdom to the fact that for the future it will proceed with the utmost rigor against any persons who shall become guilty of any such activities, activities to prevent and to suppress which, the Government will bend every effort.”


Analysis Questions:

  1. What is the Austrian government’s purpose in creating this document? (Why are they writing this?)
  2. What are the 3 main things that Austria-Hungary demands that Serbia do?
  3. Serbia ended up rejecting this ultimatum. Based on this document, how do you predict Austria-Hungary reaction to this rejection?

Country 2: Russia

Context: Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, many countries have been expanding their empires, in order to increase their wealth. The newly formed Germany, and their central European neighbor, Austria-Hungary, appear to be growing close and this could potentially threaten your western borders. You also feel a responsibility to Serbia, who looks up to you as a powerful Slavic nation.

Primary Source: “Telegram from Alexander, Prince Regent of Serbia to the Tsar of Russia, “Source Records of the Great War, Vol. I, ed. Charles F. Horne, National Alumni 1923. Source

Belgrade, July 24, 1914

The Austro-Hungarian Government yesterday evening handed to the Serbian Government a note concerning the “attentat” of Serajevo.

Conscious of its international duties, Serbia from the first days of the horrible crime declared that she condemned it, and that she was ready to open an inquiry on her territory if the complicity of certain of her subjects were proved in the investigation begun by the Austro-Hungarian authorities.

However, the demands contained in the Austro-Hungarian note are unnecessarily humiliating for Serbia and incompatible with her dignity as an independent State.

Thus we are called upon in peremptory tones for a declaration of the Government in the “Official journal,” and an order from the Sovereign to the army wherein we should repress the spirit of hostility against Austria by reproaching ourselves for criminal weakness in regard to our perfidious actions.

Then we have to admit Austro-Hungarian functionaries into Serbia to participate with our own in the investigation and to superintend the execution of the other conditions indicated in the note.

We have received a time-limit of forty-eight hours to accept everything, in default of which the legation of Austria-Hungary will leave Belgrade.  We are ready to accept the Austro-Hungarian conditions which are compatible with the position of an independent State as well as those whose acceptance shall be advised us by your Majesty.

All persons whose participation in the “attentat” shall be proved will be severely punished by us.  Certain of these demands cannot be carried out without changes in our legislation, which require time.  We have been given too short a limit.  We can be attacked after the expiration of the time-limit by the Austro-Hungarian Army which is concentrating on our frontier.

It is impossible for us to defend ourselves, and we supplicate your Majesty to give us your aid as soon as possible.  The highly prized good will of your Majesty, which has so often shown itself toward us, makes us hope firmly that this time again our appeal will be heard by his generous Slav heart.

In these difficult moments I voice the sentiments of the Serbian people, who supplicate your Majesty to interest himself in the lot of the Kingdom of Serbia.


Analysis Questions:

  1. What is the purpose of this document?
  2. How does this document relate to the document you read under the “Serbia” page? (The Austro-Hungarian Ultimatum to Serbia)
  3. Considering Russia’s views of both Austria-Hungary and Serbia, how do you think Russia responded to this message?

Country 3: France

Context: Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, many countries have been expanding their empires, in order to increase their wealth. You have a large empire in Africa but feel threatened by the growing power of your neighbor Germany. You lost the territory Alsace-Lorraine to them in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71 and still resent this. Angry at Germany seizing your land, you entered into an alliance with Russia.

Primary Source: “The Franco-Russian Alliance,” Le Petit Journal 1897

Analysis Questions:

  1. What event is this political cartoon describing?
  2. What is the perspective of this cartoon regarding the alliance of France and Russia? Does it view the union positively or negatively?
  3. Considering Russia’s involvement with Serbia, how might this alliance affect France’s involvement in the war?

Country 4: Great Britain

Context: Britain’s empire is the largest in the world, covering around a quarter of the globe. Your power and prestige are tied to maintaining this empire and to do this you also have huge naval fleet. You have viewed Germany’s attempt to build up its own navy with huge suspicion! You know that any day now there is going to be an almighty fight, and you have standing treaties of support with both Russia and France.

Primary Source: “A Threatening Situation” first pictured in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in 1912 Source

Analysis Questions:

  1. Describe what is happening in this political cartoon. (Who is depicted? What are they doing?)
  2. How might have Great Britain’s standing alliances influenced its decision to join the war?

Country 5: Austria-Hungary

Context: Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, many countries have been expanding their empires, in order to increase their wealth. Your own empire expanded when you took over Bosnia in 1908-09. Now other countries in the Balkans are wary of your intentions. About one month after Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, you sent an ultimatum to Serbia. The ultimatum demanded that Serbia allow Austria-Hungary to investigate the assassination and Serbia must suppress anti-Austrian propaganda and terrorist groups or Austria-Hungary would respond with military force. Serbia rejected the ultimatum.

Primary Source: “Serbia Must Die” Propaganda: First circulated after the assassination of Franz Ferdinand in 1914 Source

Analysis Questions:

  1. How are Serbians depicted in this political cartoon?
  2. Why are Serbians depicted this way? (aka why is Austria so angry?)
  3. Why would this aggression towards Serbia raise overall tensions in Europe?

Country 6: Germany

Context: Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, many countries have been expanding their empires, in order to increase their wealth. Because you didn’t exist as a unified country until 1871 (after the German state of Prussia had defeated France in the Franco-Prussian War), you ‘missed out’ on developing your own empire and now hate to feel inferior. You first made an alliance with Austria-Hungary and then extended it to include Italy as well.

Primary Source: “Abridged Text of the Triple Alliance,” First signed in 1881 and renewed in 1902, Source

ARTICLE 1: The High Contracting Parties [of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy” mutually promise peace and friendship, and will enter into no alliance or engagement directed against any one of their States. They engage to proceed to an exchange of ideas on political and economic questions of a general nature which may arise, and they further promise one another mutual support within the limits of their own interests.

ARTICLE 2. In case Italy, without direct provocation on her part, should be attacked by France for any reason whatsoever, the two other Contracting Parties shall be bound to lend help and assistance with all their forces to the Party attacked. This same obligation shall devolve upon Italy in case of any aggression without direct provocation by France against Germany.

ARTICLE 3. If one, or two, of the High Contracting Parties, without direct provocation on their part, should chance to be attacked and to be engaged in a war with two or more Great Powers non-signatory to the present Treaty, the casus foederis will arise simultaneously for all the High Contracting Parties. […]

ARTICLE 5. If the peace of any of the High Contracting Parties should chance to be threatened under the circumstances foreseen by the preceding Articles, the High Contracting Parties shall take counsel together in ample time as to the military measures to be taken with a view to eventual cooperation.

They engage henceforward, in all cases of common participation in a war, to conclude neither armistice, nor peace, nor treaty, except by common agreement among themselves […]

Analysis Questions:

  1. What does this treaty state each country must do if one of the others is threatened?
  2. Given that Austria-Hungary came into conflict with Serbia and was then threatened by Russia, how was Germany obligated to act?

Country 7: Italy


You are a relatively “young” country only becoming unified in 1871 (before that you were a group of separate states). You are quite weak and your government is not respected. Your position at the heart of the Mediterranean means that most countries want you to side with them. This opportunity for power came in the form of an alliance with Austria-Hungary and Germany.

Primary Source: “The Triple Alliance” 1891 Political Cartoon depicting Germany, Italy, and Austria-Hungary (from left to right) Source

Analysis Questions:

  1. What is happening in this cartoon? How is Italy different from the other two members?
  2. What does this cartoon suggest about Italy’s power in comparison to Germany and Austria-Hungary?

Summary of Alliance

Image Source

On the last page of the Google Form, students are presented with the above chart. As they discover through analyzing the various primary sources, this chart summarizes relationships between countries at the start of WWI. Knowledge of the alliances on both sides of the war is vital for students to understand before delving into the first events and battles of the war in the next lesson.

Not for Disney: The many versions of John Smith’s Pocahontas

Featured Image Source

Instruction Background

Instructional Goals:
The purpose of this series of lessons is to provide students with a deeper foundational knowledge of colonial American life, the life of Pocahontas, critical reading of primary source material, and writing a persuasive text.

Intended Grade and Background:
In theory this material will be taught midway through a larger unit on North American colonies. The intended grade would be late middle school or early high school (8th or 9th). Students should already have a clear idea of colonial powers in North America, the reasons for colonial settlements in North America, and be familiar with the role indigenous peoples played in the formation of those colonies. This material is intended to use the debate about the depiction of Pocahontas in John Smith’s accounts of his time in Jamestown as a way to bolster critical reading and thinking of primary source materials, and to practice writing persuasive text.

Essential Questions:
1. Why would John Smith’s account of Pocahontas change?
2. Which account of John Smith’s accounts is correct?

Instructional Materials

Let’s start with a map:
Start students off with a map of Virginia produced by John Smith and William Hole published in 1624, 7 years after the death of Pocahontas. Have students examine the map closely. What do they find? Hint: John Smith is still giving an account of Pocahontas in the upper left corner. Encourage students to ask and wonder why this would be included in a map.

Instructional Source: “Virginia”, by John Smith and William Hole, 1624

John Smith’s first account:
Students can read John Smith’s first telling of his meeting with Pocahontas in his book A New Relation, published in 1608, soon after he was elected president of the Jamestown colony council. In this first account, Smith speaks of dangerous encounters with the Powhatan tribe, but not of meeting Pocahontas until well after the initial meeting.

In this initial text, John Smith speaks of finally meeting Chief Powhatan’s daughter Pocahontas nearly a month after encountering nearly 400 indigenous warriors near Jamestown. There is no mention of Pocahontas other than this and another passage that describes her interest in the colony.

Scaffolding question: How is this depiction of John Smith meeting Pocahontas different from what you already know of this meeting?

Instructional Source: A True Relation, by John Smith, 1608.

The letter:
Both John Smith and Pocahontas became rather famous back in England after an injury forced Smith to return. This letter appeared in his 1624 book “The Generall Historie of Virginia” and was supposedly sent to Queen Anne before Pocahontas was to be presented to the royal court. There are obvious problems that this is the only account of the letter, but it was also not uncommon at the time for memoirs to include communications with – or to – royalty, so it is not impossible that this letter was genuine.

In this passage, John Smith recounts another version of his original capture by the Powhatan tribe, but this time adds in a detail that Pocahontas “hazarded the beating out of her owne braines to save mine”, seemingly from thin air.

Scaffolding Questions:
What details have changed about Pocahontas in this letter compared to the last text? Why is Pocahontas suddenly involved in John Smith’s capture? What can the date and audience of this letter tell you about the letter’s purpose?

Instructional Source: “Letter to Queen Anne” in his “A General Historie of Virginia” by John Smith

A “Generall Historie” and specific details:
Years after Pocahontas’ death, both she and John Smith had become something of folk legends in England. John Smith published frequently, and was considered a “New World Expert” back in his home country. In 1624, 7 years after Pocahontas died, Smith published “A Generall Historie of Virgina, New England & the Summer Isles” which was meant to be both an account of the colony as well as Smith’s own exploits.

Suddenly Smith ramps it up a notch with this retelling of the now classic story. Going farther than the letter in this same book, Smith now suggests that Pocahontas “got his head in her armes, and laid her owne upon his to save him from death.” He later even states the Pocahontas saved him again, this time by foiling an assassination attempt by telling Smith ahead of time.

Scaffolding Questions:
What details have changed from the previous telling to this one? And what more from the first story? Why would Pocahontas save the life of this person she doesn’t know? Why would the story have changed?

Instructional Source: “The Generall Historie of Virginia”, by John Smith, 1624

Popular History:
This picture seems familiar, and for good reason. Printed in 1870, this lithograph from New York shows the now popular account of the meeting of John Smith and Pocahontas, with her saving him from certain death.

Scaffolding Questions:
Why do you think this is the version of events that – regardless of truth – is the most popular?

Instructional Source: Smith rescued by Pocahontas, Lithograph, 1870

Instructional Tools

Students will be using the primary sources mentioned above, along with a few other tools that could aid them in their exploration of this topic. Check out the slides below for a list of tools that could be used for this topic, and how.

  1. “Virginia” by John Smith, 1624
    • This is a great starting point to orient students in a time and place, and also gives them a teaser into what the controversy might be in later texts.
  2. “A True Relation” by John Smith, 1608
    • John Smith’s first account of meeting Pocahontas is a great way to talk about first impressions of their meeting and how it may have occurred.
  3. “Letter to Queen Anne” by John Smith, 1616 (1624)
    • Here is the first change in Smith’s story about Pocahontas. Students can now begin to compare the two accounts.
  4. “The Generall Historie of Virginia, New England & the Summer Isles” by John Smith, 1624
    • Students can now see the final depiction of the Pocahontas love story as given by Smith. Students will be able to make some inferences as to why the story changed.
  5. A clip from Disney’s “Pocahontas”
    • This clip shows the now dramatized version of Smith’s last account of Pocahontas saving his life. This is now the most commonly understood account of events.
  6. “Smith Saved by Pocahontas” Lithograph, 1870
    • This can be used to discuss how quickly the second retelling of Smith’s capture and rescue became the popular history. Students should be able to see the influence in future retellings of this same story.
  7. “Pocahontas Lives” website
    • This website explores two sides of a theory that suggests John Smith was indeed captured, but misunderstood an “adoption ceremony” by the Powhatan that lead to his believing he was in danger when indeed he was not.

Instructional Methods

Here I make some suggestions on how to present the materials and use the tools I’ve provided in the sections above. These are suggestions, as some timing and age range will dictate the exact method of instruction.

  1. Allow for pre-reading of “A True Relation” so that students will come prepared to class and ready to discuss the text. Perhaps show a clip from Disney’s “Pocahontas” as an introduction to the topic.
  2. Break students into small groups (3/4 depending on class size) to read “Letter to Queen Anne” and “The Generall Historie” texts, then allow students to share what they learned, and compare in real time the two separate accounts of Smith’s capture in the same published work.
  3. Walk students through the “Adoption Story” narrative on the “Pocahontas Lives” website. As you introduce this theory, point out that this theory presupposes the second versions of Pocahontas are the correct ones and that “A True Relation” simply leaves out Smith’s rescue.
    • Students can be split into two groups to review evidence for and against the “Adoption Story” narrative
    • Allow students to debate the narrative in their groups, giving students a chance to talk about evidence, what seemed persuasive, and point out how other historians have approached this topic
  4. Finally, give students a role-play opportunity by telling them they are to write the definitive version of this account in history. Their word will be final. They need to write a persuasive essay and in it answer these questions:
    • What is the definitive version of events?
    • Did John Smith really change his story? If so, why?
    • What evidence do you have to support your conclusion?

Division and Progress


This lesson would come near the end of the year in an 11th grade US History class. Since it is covering multiple time periods and social movements, it would not come at the end of a particular unit or need a specific historical context – it would be asking students to draw upon their background knowledge that they acquired over the course of the year and would challenge them to connect movements from different time periods.

Using a class of 30 students as an example, the students would be divided into three groups of 10 students. Each group would be focusing on a different movement and within each group, the students would be split in half (5 and 5) so that each team of five would be assigned to a different person/side. Each group would be given some background information and assigned a document to read as homework to help prepare them. They would have class time to develop their argument with their group.

Key Questions:

Some questions that students will be asked to think about during this lesson are…
(1) What features made one argument more convincing than the other as you watched the debates?
(2) Are social movements ever totally unified?
(3) Is division within a social movement always a weakness? Can it ever be a strength?
(4) Did any of these people have something in common with their adversary, despite their differences?
(5) What parallels do you see between any of these situations and something going on in our modern world?


During this lesson, students will be asked to develop their argumentation skills by constructing an argument in defense of the position that they are assigned. They will also be asked to be active participants in their peers’ debate presentations and thoughtfully contribute to a reflection activity.


Debate 1: Black progress post-slavery/reconstruction a. DuBois v. Washington
b. Scaffolding Questions:
1. What is the author’s perspective?
2. Why was it written?
3. What claims does the author make?
4. What language (words, phrases) does the author use to persuade the audience?
5. How does the document’s language indicate the author’s perspective?

Document 1A: “The Souls of Black Folk” by W.E.B DuBois

“William Edward Burghardt (W.E.B.) DuBois: 1904 ca” by Washington Area Spark is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

This document is a chapter entitled “Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others” coming from DuBois’ book “The Souls of Black Folk.” This is a great chapter for students to use since DuBois is directly speaking to the idealogical argument between him and Washington.

Document 1B: “Up from Slavery” by Booker T. Washington

“Booker T. Washington” by TradingCardsNPS is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

This document is a chapter from Washington’s book “Up from Slavery.” This chapter is about his Atlanta Exposition Address, which includes his “cast down your bucket where you are” argument which stands in stark contrast to DuBois’ beliefs.

Debate 2: The Suffrage Movement
a. Chapman Catt v. Paul
b. Scaffolding Questions:
1. What is the author’s perspective?
2. Why was it written?
3. What claims does the author make?
4. What language (words, phrases) does the author use to persuade the audience?
5. How does the document’s language indicate the author’s perspective?

Document 2A: Carrie Chapman Catt’s NAWSA Presidential Address

“Carrie Chapman Catt” by Theodore C. Marceau, 28 May 1859 – 22 Jun 1922 is marked with CC0 1.0.

This document is Carrie Chapman Catt’s Presidential Address of the National American Woman Suffrage Association in 1902. She talks a lot about the years of struggle and disappointment that they have already faced and that they will continue to face but stresses how important that they continue to move forward so the younger generation can eventually do the same.

Document 2B: “Forming the Woman’s Party” by Alice Paul

“Dorothy Day file: Alice Paul” by jimforest is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

This document is a speech by Alice Paul in 1916. Paul uses phrases like “a power to be feared” and talks about what can and should happen in a matter of months. Paul’s urgency and strong language is a far cry from Chapman Catt’s talk of the long fight by past and future generations.

Debate 3: The Civil Rights Movement
a. King v. X
b. Scaffolding Questions:
1. What is the author’s perspective?
2. Why was it written?
3. What claims does the author make?
4. What language (words, phrases) does the author use to persuade the audience?
5. How does the document’s language indicate the author’s perspective?

Document 3A: Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X

“No Known Restrictions: ‘Martin Luther King and Malcolm X Waiting for Press Conference’ by Marion S. Trikosko, March 26, 1964 (LOC)” by is marked with CC PDM 1.0.

Pages 31 and 32 of this document compiles MLK and Malcolm X quotes and excerpts on various issues that they had differing opinions on so that students can read them right next to each other.

Debate Format

Side 1: Introduction
Time: 3 minutes
Goal: Introduce your topic and state your main claims.
Side 2: Questioning
Time: 3 minutes
Goal: Opportunity to cross-examine Side 1 and ask questions in regards to their points.
Side 2: Introduction
Time: 3 minutes
Goal: Introduce your topic and state your main claims.
Side 1: Questioning
Time: 3 minutes
Goal: Opportunity to cross-examine Side 1 and ask questions in regards to their points.
Side 1: Clarification
Time: 2 minutes
Goal: Clarify points as needed, make any desired additional arguments/claims.
Side 2: Clarification
Time: 2 minutes
Goal: Clarify points as needed, make any desired additional arguments/claims.
Side 1: Rebuttal
Time: 3 minutes
Goal: Explain why the other side is wrong/yours is better
Side 2: Rebuttal

Time: 3 minutes
Goal: Explain why the other side is wrong/yours is better
Side 1: Conclusion

Time: 2 minutes
Goal: Wrap up your argument, reiterate main points
Side 2: Conclusion

Time: 2 minutes
Goal: Wrap up your argument, reiterate main points

Fishbowl Duties:

As students debate, 20 of their peers will be watching. They will have a rubric where they can write down notes on how each group did on facts, persuasiveness, organization, and teamwork. This will help them decide who “won” at the end and make sure they are actively following the debate.


Zoom Spotlight Feature

Zoom has a new feature that allows the teacher to Spotlight certain participants so that the whole class can see them. Find out more about Zoom spotlight.


For the reflection piece of this lesson, students will have the option to make a Flipgrid video. Try out Flipgrid.


Instead of a Flipgrid video, students can also make a podcast using Pod-o-matic. Explore Pod-o-matic.

Feature Image Source: “Patricia Due, Civil rights protests in Tallahassee FL” by Village Square is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Extra, Extra: Read All About It!

Featured Image Source

Context and Assignment:

The students partaking in a document-based assessment by creating a newspaper with four or more articles covering the U.S neutrality to World War II. This assignment would work well with any high school U.S. History course that covers World War II. The lesson will use a variety of primary sources such as newspapers, photos, and political cartoons to provide a differentiated learning experience for students.

To engage in their historical thinking, the students will engage in photos that are contextually relevant but somewhat vague. This will encourage the students to make the connections from the class lecture to create their news reports. There will be scaffolded questions to help support students on different learning levels. Students will write about the following information: U.S. neutrality, the embargo on Japan, attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan’s success, and U.S. declaration for war. For extra credit, the students will also about the Japanese-Americans who were eventually interned a few months after.

Essential Question:

I will be able to explain how the U.S. went from being neutral to entering World War II.


Students will be engaging in historical thinking by using photos, videos, and reading to develop their newspaper. This will help students develop and practice researching information and summarize texts based on their background knowledge.


Google Slides Link

Sources Links from Documents

  1. We always were suckers for ridiculous hats…
  2. Lend-Lease to Britain. English girls, members of the Auxiliary Territorial Service move armfuls of American rifles just arrived from the United States under lend-lease
  3. The Nome nugget. [volume], August 04, 1941, Image 1
  4. Confidentially… how much hell do you think these Japs will raise?
  5. NH 97398 Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941
  6. SC 134872 Pearl Harbor Attack
  7. We’re Fighting to Prevent This
  8. Day of Infamy Address
  9. People leaving Buddhist church, winter, Manzanar Relocation Center, California
  10. Mess line, noon, Manzanar Relocation Center, California