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Library of Congress: World War I: What Are We Fighting For Over There?

Example Web Site and/or Technical Equipment Required


Website Example:

Tech Product Equipment

Computer(s), Internet access, projector, and optional speakers (for class presentation)

Activity Description

In this activity students analyze varied primary sources from World War I depicting differing perspectives in order to gain an understanding of The Great War. This unit consists of three lessons, which can be taught sequentially or individually if time restraints do not permit devoting time to all lessons.


  1. Students should have basic knowledge of the events of World War I.
  2. Make sure that the site is not blocked at your school and that the lesson resources can be viewed or heard.
  3. Review the detailed lesson plans and decide which lessons you want your students to complete and which resources you want to use. Follow the Preparation  link to find the suggested materials and resources.
  4. Be sure to check the Teacher’s Guide to Analyzing Primary Sources . The link to it is found at the bottom of the Lesson Preparation tab.
  5. If you are in a computer lab, have students visit the Primary Source Analysis Tool , which they can type in, online. If you are not in a computer lab and you need printed copies, use the Print icon on the page to print it. Also print any other needed resources for the selected lessons.


  1. Lesson One – Introduction to American Memory and Primary Sources
    Students are introduced to the resources of American Memory by viewing several "Today in History" pages, which focus on World War I events.
  2. Lesson Two – American Leaders Speak
    Students explore the World War I-era recordings of American Leaders Speak.
  3. Lesson Three – Newspaper Project
    Students use their developing familiarity with American Memory and prior knowledge of WWI to create two WWI-era newspapers – each with an opposing viewpoint regarding American involvement in the war effort.

Teacher Tips

  • There are an overwhelming number of resources available. Don't feel like you need to use all of them. Select several with varying views.

More Ways

  • The Library of Congress has numerous lesson plans based on speeches, newspapers, and videos. Look through the list to see which others might be useful to your students.

Select subjects and subcategories

English Language Arts

  • American Literature
  • Journalism

Social Studies

  • U.S. History
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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN200091-A2 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.