Monday, May 14, 2012

World War What?

We spent the day reviewing for acuity and looking at the cause/effect chain leading up to WWI.

The second part (not the review) was pretty fun.  Also, we got to eat gummy bears.  Yeah, I had one as well.

Officially, I don't teach much of WWI - in fact this is my first year teaching it.  But I'm supposed to teach a little about WWII, and how can you teach WWII when the kids have no background knowledge of WWI?

Here's what they did.  They went around the room getting 3 or 4 people as allies.  I told them they had to branch out a little bit.  I.e. one close friend, someone of the opposite sex, someone they didn't know very well, and a fourth person of their choice.

Then I asked who wanted a gummy bear.  I put the gummy bear on a table in the front of the room and called a student up.  It was theirs.  But then I asked who thought they could take the gummy bear from that student...  I let one student come up on the other side of the table.

The first student could call an ally to aid her.  The second student wasn't prepared to go against two people, so he called an ally as well.  ...Then the original two students had more allies come to their aid and a relatively small conflict over a gummy bear escalated into a classroom-wide catastrophe.

It was supposed to mirror how Serbians assassinated Franz Ferdinand - which gave the Austria-Hungarians the pretext to attack Serbia.  Serbia called for Russia.  A.H. called for Germany.  Germany attacked France who were friends with Russia.  England goes after Germany... etc...

I presented this to get to the fact that Japan declared war on Germany in 1914.  We were on the same side.

...Most of the information can be found on this fantastic First World War website

Students: to get extra credit read the blog with an adult and then discuss it.  What happened to start the First World War?  How did alliances play into that?  Is there anything you don't understand?  Etc...  When you're done reading and discussing, write the name of your two strongest allies.  Then have the adult you discussed the blog with sign the paper.

Brief aside:  I'm not sure the end of the analogy works.  At the end of class everyone got gummy bears...  This did NOT happen at the end of World War One.

Black Forest Gummy Bears


  1. I love your lesson :-) The question is, who really killed Franz Ferdinand and why? And why, when the Kaiser and the Tsar were desperately trying to maintain peace, did newspapers mislead the people and ministers keep most of the information from Franz Josef...Hmm..
    (A shameless plug...I recommend "Shattered Crowns: The Scapegoats"

  2. Thanks Christina.

    No such thing as a shameless plug when it comes to a book. Ever. I've added it to my goodreads list. I can't imagine the work it takes to write a book, and then to publish it, so kudos to you.

    As for who killed The Mister Archduke... I promise it wasn't me. At least, not in my current incarnation.