“My Japan” Edpuzzle

This activity is designed for a high-school class learning about World War II.
This lesson should be used when teaching about U.S. involvement with Japan during the war.
Ideally, I would do this with my students before teaching them about the dropping of the atomic bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I feel it is a good demonstration of propaganda to explain why the U.S. decided to take such drastic measures to end the war.

This activity was created on Edpuzzle. It involves students watching a video from Youtube and answering questions along the way. Questions are timestamped in to the video, and the video atomically stops to allow students to answer the question. The video then continues when students submit their question.

The video “My Japan (1945)” is a propaganda film made by the U.S. to portray Japan in a terrifying light.

Throughout the film, I ask the following questions:
1. How is Japan portrayed so far in this film?
2. What does the narrator refer to as “the heart” of Japan?
3. What are some of the comparisons made between the people of Japan and the people of the U.S.?
4. In making these comparisons, how are the people of Japan being portrayed? How are the people of the U.S. being portrayed?
5. How is Japan being portrayed later in the film?
6. What do you think was the purpose of this film? Why?
7. After seeing the very end of this film, did your mind change on what the purpose of this film was?
Do you think this film was successful in achieving its purpose?

Link to activity on Edpuzzle

I really enjoyed creating this activity. It was easy for me, as the teacher, to create. The Edpuzzle platform was very simple to use.
I like this method for this activity because I think it will keep students engaged, as it is interactive. Usually when films are shown in class, teachers may have students take notes or answer a worksheet with questions to make sure the student is following along. However, with Edpuzzle, students can go their own speed and can’t “miss” questions. Since in Edpuzzle the video stops for them, students have the time to really think about their. They can also re-watch parts if they need to.
It can be a great activity to do in class, with students wearing headphones, or would even make a great homework assignment, too.

Class 4: Mission-Driven PBL

This week class will meet at Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education (OJMCHE) to tour the exhibition and begin discussion of our project to serve as instructional design consultants creating lessons for visitors to the Oregon Holocaust Memorial.

With historical memorials in the news and neo-Nazis on the march, this community-based challenge will allow us to use a PBL approach to explore instructional design with purpose. More

Here’s a few links that can guide assist our work:

  • After Charlottesville: Public Memory and the Contested Meaning of Monuments (Facing History and Ourselves) is central and raises some interesting essential questions beginning with “What is the purpose of memorials and monuments? What impact do they have on us and the way we think about history?” Link
  • Guidelines for Teaching about the Holocaust (US Holocaust Memorial Museum) reflects approaches appropriate for effective teaching in general, are particularly relevant to Holocaust education.  Link
  • Entry point for OJMCHE Oral history collection  Link
  • Echoes & Reflections: Teaching the Holocaust / Inspiring the Classroom Link
Assignment 4

See completed Assignment 4 here

Write a brief post the will serve as a reflective starting point for your work on this project. Due Sunday 9/24.

It could include:

  • ideas for memorial lesson design
  • reflection on memorial visit (you can build on email you sent me)
  • reflection on memorial or museum visit
  • opportunities or concerns
  • reaction to PBL as instructional approach
  • Something else

Image credit: Adobe Spark using photo detail of Oregon Holocaust Memorial by Peter Pappas

Holy Propaganda Batman! Comic Book Covers and World War II

wonder-womenSensation Comics Jan. No. 13 (Source)

Overall I really enjoyed and found value in creating a document based lesson. This semester I’ve been reading, Lies My Teacher Told Me, by James W. Loewen and a quote that really stood out to me was, “What would we think of a course in poetry in which students never read a poem? (pg. 7).” I kept thinking about this quote throughout this lesson because that’s how high school social studies have been teaching history to students, and I feel document based lessons is an alternative that fixes that problem. It gives students a chance to work with primary resources and challenges them to be the historians in the process. The challenge for me was what primary resources to use, and what questions did I want my students to answer. I am glad I got to use a topic that I am super passionate about and be able to use it as my document based lesson project. The hard part was finding comic book covers that was available to share. Especially because Marvel and DC comics have heavy copyright laws that protect their work. My plan is to use this next year with my students at OPEN School.

What I gained most from this project was the skills of using google and Apple’s book author program. I am already thinking of creating another document based lesson on a different subject just so I can continue to grow my skills in using this program to be a better teacher. My only feed back I would give about this project that it’s a bit difficult for people that may not have a Apple device on hand.

Triumph of the Will

Nuremberg Rally
Nuremberg Rally

Author: Sarah Wieking

Target Students: 10th/11th Grade History Students

Historical Skills: Sourcing and Contextualizing

The Road to Nazi Power: 

This lesson will be imbedded into a unit on World War II. Therefore, students should already know about the devastation that Germany faced in the post-WWI era. They will know that they endured a dramatic economic recession resulting from the Versailles Treaty and the Great Depression. They will understand the helpless aura of the nation at that time. As a review, we will highlight elements that led to Hitler’s rise to power.

Students will be asked to consider why Hitler was able to gain so much power and support so quickly.

Examples for students to consider: Hitler promised the downtrodden citizens a new and better life, as well as a new Germany. The Nazis attracted the unemployed, the young, and the lower middle classes.

Students will be asked to write down their own definition of Nationalism and then share it with their neighbors. Then a few will share them with the class. Specific elements of nationalism will be emphasized as a class: a feeling of superiority over other countries and the feeling that nations should act independently of each other.

Students will be asked to consider nationalism in Germany and the background knowledge that they know of that time when watching the propaganda video.

The Power of Propaganda:

Then the class will briefly go over the definition of propaganda and how students think it could have been employed in WWII Germany.

Students will then watch the propaganda film: Triumph des Willens (1935). By Leni Riefenstahl

Before they begin watching, each student will be divided into “element groups” and  asked to consider one of the following key aspects of the film: the soundtrack, the tone and noise of crowds and speakers, and the visual elements.

The class will watch the opening scene of Hitler flying into Nuremberg and then Hitler’s speech at minute 55:00.

Starter thought provoking question: What do you think Hitler’s entrance from the sky symbolizes? ——- Students will write down their own answers and then share with each other, hopefully noticing that his descent from the sky alludes to his representation as a “savior”.


As a class, students will look at a timeline of events in pre-war Germany. The teacher will guide them into noticing the events in the year 1924, the year before the propaganda was filmed. Students will therefore notice that on August 2nd, Hitler became president in addition to chancellor. Furthermore, on August 19th, a plebiscite was held to determine Hitler’s support. 90% said that they approved of his powers. For a timeline: http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/nazi-germany/nazi-germany-timeline/

Students will then meet with the other members of their “element groups” and share their findings about the significance of the elements they noticed. Then they will split into groups of three with those of different “element groups” and share their new ideas. They will be asked to consider their answers in answering the future questions.

Students will be asked to answer these following questions in small groups:

  1. Sourcing Question: Who was the intended audience of this propaganda film?

Contextualizing Questions:

  1. What is significant about the date that the film was released? (March 28, 1935)
  2. How does the video reflect the overall mood of the country during that time?
  3. How does our background information support what is seen in the video?
  4. How can we see nationalism at play in this video?

Their answers will be shared to the whole class and we will write down answers on the board to show connections. Then students in the different element groups will contribute significant features they noticed that help support these answers.

Then students will be asked the essential question in a quick write:

Why did so many ordinary German citizens rally behind Hitler and join the Nazi Party?

We will go over this as a class after they have completed writing their individual answers.


I think that this mini lesson may need some work in its structuring. When I teach this, I want to ask these same questions and ask students to perform these tasks, but I hope to find better methods in doing so. It definitely needs to fit within an overall unit of WWII, hopefully in a world history class so that students also understand the significant after-effects that WWI caused for Germany. The main purpose of this lesson is to approach learning about Germany in WWII from a unique angle. I want students to see what led up to not simply a war, but how a desperate country rallied behind a man who promised change and a brighter future. Therefore, ordinary citizens joined a political party that we could hardly fathom ever joining. I want students to put themselves in the shoes of German citizens of the time and realize just why Hitler was able to gain so many supporters. This lesson will build upon previous lessons towards lessons on the beginning of WWII. Students will also learn about the power of nationalism and propaganda through this lesson.

Creator: Georg Pahl

Date of Publication: September 1934

Archive: Bundesarchiv.de Bild 102-04062A