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A Day in the Life of a World War II Soldier


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Keywords: Webquest
Subject(s): Social Studies, History
Grades 7 through 12
School: Helix High School, La Mesa, CA
Planned By: Emily Kowalski
Original Author: Emily Kowalski, La Mesa
Title of lesson: A Day in the Life of a World War II Soldier Webquest

Context of Lesson: This lesson will take place at the end of the unit on World War II. Students will have studied about the rise of European dictators, the war in Europe, the war in the Pacific, and the end of the war on both fronts.

Overview: Students will follow a series of links to letters and first hand accounts of World War II soldiers. Students will take notes while looking at the various websites and write a one page diary entry on their “experience” as a WWII soldier after they have looked at all of the websites.

Central question/problem: What was the war like for soldiers on the front lines?

Objectives: Students use the webquest to enhance learning, increase productivity, and promote creativity. (Technology Foundation Standards for Students, Standard 3). Students use the webquest to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources. (Technology Foundation Standards for Students, Standard 5). Students will be able to identify theaters of war involved in World War II. (Michigan Social Studies Standards, Standard 2.5, High School 1). Students will be able to describe military experiences and explain how they shaped American soldiers. (National Standards for US History (5-12), Era 8, Standard 3B).

Materials/ Sources: Prior to the lesson the teacher must create a handout for the students to take notes on while exploring the various sources. The teacher must have access to the websites prior to the lesson to setup the webquest. The teacher will direct the students to the websites in the order that they feel is most effective. The students will each need access to a computer with internet capability on the day of the lesson. Students will be given the url of the webquest on the day of the lesson. The assessment question appears on the website.

Assessment: Students will be asked to take notes on the teacher provided handout while exploring the sources. After the students have viewed all of the required sources they will be asked to write a one page diary entry on their experience as a World War II soldier based on the sources they have examined. Students will be required to turn the note sheet in with the diary entry at the end of class.

Instructional Sequence:
1. The teacher will begin by checking out a laptop computer to each student.

2. Teacher will provide each student with a note taking sheet that has the url of the webquest. The teacher will then explain to the students that they will be examining multiple first hand sources from soldiers who were on the front lines during World War II. They must choose whether or not they are a soldier in the Pacific or Europe before examining the sources, each choice will lead them to different sources. The students will be informed that all of the directions are provided on the website but that they must look at a minimum of five of the provided sources before proceeding to the diary entry. The teacher will tell the students that they must take notes on the provided handout. The teacher will also tell them that once they are finished they must write a one page diary entry, either hand written or typed, on their experience as a World War II soldier based on the sources they have examined. The diary entry is not to be completed until the have finished looking at all five website and their handout is completely filled out. The students will be informed that both assignments are due at the end of class; no credit will be given for an assignment that is turned in late.

3. While students are exploring the sources the teacher will circulate and monitor the student’s actions on the computers. The teacher will remind students of the task at hand if they are straying to other websites. If there is a continuous problem with one student the teacher will warn them that if they do not stay on task they will loose their computer privileges for the day as well as credit for the assignment.

4. After 35 minutes have passed the teacher will ask the students to wrap up what they are doing and begin returning the computers. Once all of the computers have been checked in the teacher will ask follow up questions.

5. The teacher will conclude the lesson by asking the students what they found most interesting about the soldier’s stories. How do you think the experiences of the soldiers affected their lives when they returned home? Do you think their experiences had any impact on the support, or lack there of, of the Vietnam War that we studied at the beginning of the year? The teacher will also ask if the students enjoyed exploring first hand sources through the webquest. Would the students like to do an activity like this again?

Links: The War
Eyewitness to History
D-Day
Battle of the Bulge
Fly Girls
Materials: Mobile Labs, Printers, Power, Keyboards, Headsets, Ports and Hubs, Mice, Social Studies