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World War I WebQuest

Teacher Guide

This unit of practice Webquest explores the essential question "What is it like to live through a conflict." Use the index below to review hints for presentation, assessment, connection to the standards, addressing special students and more.

Invitation [Initial considerations]

Instruction suggestions and considerations

The Task and Interactions [directions]

Special student learning needs

Assessment suggestions

Situations: time and skills for completion of the tasks

Connecting to the Standards

Examples of student work

You may downmload a copy text copy of this guide by clicking HERE

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Unit of Practice

Looks like [specific]...

Essential question

What is it like to live through a conflict?


Utilize a Web Quest to introduce and assist in the study of World War I


As we study wars and revolutions, our descriptions and lessons are often presented in abstract terms, events and dates.

Yet these conflicts involve real people. There are the aggressors and defenders, the supporters and volunteers, and those who are simply caught in the middle. Homes, lands and loved ones are changed and/or lost forever.

This webquest seeks to introduce the student to World War I through the eyes and lives of some of the participants of this conflict. Using primary sources from the Internet, students will learn about their participant, and then share these experiences with the rest of the class.

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In preparation, students will have studied

  • patterns of state-building, nationalism and social reform in Europe and the Americas (1830-1914)
  • discussed the multiple causes of WW1
Concurrently, students will be

reading books such as Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front and selected war poetry, to better understand the physical and mental effects of trench warfare in WW1, as well as the increased use of technology during this war.

















Students will work in small groups to explore and analyze the experiences of a participants during WW1.

They will then jigsaw into a new set of groups and explain the experience of their participant to the rest of the new group.

Each individual student will then write a paper that answers the essential question "What is it like to live through a conflict?".

Each student group will then present a class performance of their response to the essential question.

Stage 1
[teacher directed; open-ended, short term]
  1. Meet in homogenous groups, by participant type, to explore three sets of data.
  2. After exploring each set of data, the homogenous group will synthesize the data to formulate a truth or understanding focused on the essential question, from their 'participants' voice.
  3. The homogenous group then will synthesize their 3 'truths' into one written statement.

KEY: that the students realize they must not create a report, but, instead, must synthesize & express the VOICE of their participant [about 200 words].

Stage 2
[teacher and student directed, open ended, short term]
  1. Jigsaw the experts into 3-5 groups
    [make sure each group has at least one 'participant' from each category.]

    [there may be extra students, who can be made group facilitators].

  2. They will present their stage 1 group's 'truths/understanding'

  3. The stage 2 group will synthesize this data into a statement that answers/responds to the essential question.

  4. Each student will then present their own paper [about 200 words] that answers the essential question. Stage 3: [student directed, open ended, short term]
Stage 3: [student directed, open ended, short term}

The same group used in stage 2 will present a performance to the class of their response to the essential question by using one of the following methods:

  • reader's theater script
  • scenario
  • mini-drama
  • multimedia presentation
  • other student choices

note: all members of the group will participate in some manner.

Examples of student work have been posted at <>

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How is the student learning demonstrated?

Stage 1
assessed as a group, by the teacher, based on the written synthesis statements on the teacher generated guide sheet
Stage 2
assessed individually, by the teacher, based on the summaries of each role presented and their over-all analysis/response to the essential question
Stage 3
students & teacher design the assessment rubric and 'score' the other group's student created presentations

How do students, teachers, parents, and administrators know that learning standards are reached or exceeded?

For Stage 1 & 2
teacher will establish and communicate rubric prior to beginning of the stages.

teacher will notify and invite parents to view their child's participant and discuss this with their child.
For Stage 3
students and teacher will create the rubric and do the assessments, by group consensus.
Examples of student work have been posted at

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National Standards for World History
Era 8: 20th century,
standard 2A
Students should be able to:
Demonstrate understanding of the global scope and human costs of the WW1

Examples of student achievement:

  • Using historical and literary evidence, be able to describe the feelings , experiences and attitudes of soldiers from different areas of the globe.
  • understand and analyze the relative successes of leading powers in their propaganda campaign.
  • Draw upon books such as All Quiet on the Western Front to describe the physical and mental effects of trench warfare during WW1.
  • Infer from a study of posters and cartoons in what ways and to what extent women's roles changed during the war. Evaluate the reliability of conclusions based on this evidence.

State of California History/Social Science Standards
Grade 10: World History

Students analyze the effects of the First World War, in terms of:
4. the nature of the war, the human costs [military and civilian] on all sides of the conflict

requisite pre-skills

minimal net navigation skills

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Stage 1

  • 1-30 minute and 1-45 minute computer lab session
  • 1-15 minute intro and 1-45 minute group collaboration and writing session

Stage 2

  • 45 minutes for the groups to meet and share
  • 45 minutes to write individual response to the essential question

Stage 3

  • 15 - 30 minutes to decide assessment rubric for the stage 3 presentations
  • 45 minutes for presentations


computer lab & classroom

Using the technology

Make sure that:

  • there are an adequate number of workstations to handle at least 7 groups of students simultaneously
  • at least one of the workstations has sound capability
  • there is adequate Internet access and bandwidth

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Teacher presentation/ facilitation

Some suggestions to make the WebQuest more teacher friendly.

Student worksheets are available here.















STAGE I suggestions:

  1. In getting the students to understand the nature of their paper, you might suggest putting it in the form of a letter, diary or answering the question "What did you do during the war?".
  2. Have the students use the first person
  3. Become thoroughly familiar with all the sites that the kids are being sent to. It will help in giving them a context as they move through the sets.
  4. Make up a binder with the 'hard copy' from all the sites that your students are going to visit. A number of the kids like to hold something, after they have reviewed the different sites. For some others, it makes it less intimidating to move forward when they realize that they are only going to look at two pages of a 32 page site.
  5. I noticed a lot of kids printed out some of the sites, to take back and study and/or reflect on.
  6. To see my thoughts and rationale as to the purpose of each subset of each 'participant', click here.

STAGE 2 suggestions:

  1. When students read their 'I'-paper, have them add any facts from your review comments made to their stage 1 group paper.
  2. They should also fill in any information about the point of view or reference of their participant, i.e., leaders helped the people understand why they making the sacrifices, etc.
  3. It is important that the students use the stage 2 worksheet to list all their group's members by their roles. This allows us to know which roles must be accounted for in their individual papers.

STAGE 3 suggestions:

Some of the presentation formats the student groups might use include speaking as their participant

  1. a nurse speaking with a range of patients
  2. journalist interviewing...
  3. pilot 'seeing all' from the skies

special learning needs

I made up an informal reading difficulty rating system to help me compose the different student groups.








special needs







In the stage 1 series of activities, the Leader's WebQuest was provided because each site has a speech which can be listened to. The text of the speech is also written out on the same page. Therefore, those with reading difficulties, as well as ESL students might benefit from being assigned to this particular WebQuest activity.

The World War 1 WebQuest can now also be found at:

  • the Apple Learning Exchange []. The ALI is an online community where educators can share, learn and communicate. It provides detailed ideas and examples for teaching with technology that can help you integrate new media into your work. Apple collaborated with the National Science Foundation and the New American Schools Development Corporation to create a structured curriculum framework for sharing lessons, and named it Units of Practice (UOP). It provides a 'warehouse' of Units Of Practice that have been reviewed, approved and rated. Each UOP is developed by an experienced teacher, and exemplifies an approach to integrating technology into the teaching and learning process. Each unit has detailed state and national standards correlated to it. The WW1 WebQuest is listed under UOP #2650.
  • the SCORE History/Social Science site []. The 'Schools of California Online Resources for Education' website was begun as a program of the Curriculum and Instructional Steering Committee of the California County Superintendent's Education Services Association and is now funded and managed through the California Technology Assistance Project. The H-SS resources listed here have been selected and evaluated by a team of educators from across California. These particular sites were chosen for their accuracy, grade appropriateness, and richness. The WW1 WebQuest may be found in the grade 10 and grade 11 section, under Activities for World War I units of study.
  • the WebQuest Page []. This site is hosted by the Educational Technology Department at San Diego State University, and is designed to serve as a resource to those who are using the WebQuest model to teach with the web. The model was developed in early 1995 at San Diego State University by Bernie Dodge with Tom March, and was outlined then in Some Thoughts About WebQuests. The WW1 WebQuest may be found in the examples section, under the column: grades 9 - 12 and the row: Social Studies.

Send questions or feedback to Barry Sovel

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last updated 5 July 2002