World War I was one of the most important events of the 20th century. Not only was WWI the first truly global conflict in the history of the world, it was also one of the many events that led to the outbreak of World War II a generation later. Because of the complex and brutal nature of the war, some of the best social studies projects about it are those that use multimedia to showcase the reality of war.
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Newspapers and magazines are a great source of ideas for projects about World War 1. Clippings from WW1-era publications can be used to make collages and posters that depict the war; there is enough textual and pictorial evidence to make a collage on just about any WWI-related topic. A combination of textbooks and news archives can be used to create a mock WWI-era newspaper front page, a project that allows the students to showcase their knowledge and creativity.
Maps are essential to the study of history. Maps are used to show battle locations, territorial boundaries and important cities. A World War 1 map project might show the locations of key battles or the changes in territorial boundaries after battles. A good map-based project would demonstrate your ability to draw a map that accurately depicts key locations and events, then explain the map to an audience. The PBS website has maps that illustrate the changes in territory over the course of World War 1; these could serve as models for a map-based project.
World War 1 was the first major European conflict to be extensively filmed, recorded and photographed. Previously, relatively little documentary evidence existed of the devastating costs of war. The publication and broadcasting of war documents brought the realities of war to civilian populations for the first time. A multimedia collage that contrasts WWI photos and videos with 19th-century European battle art and poetry could show the disillusioning effects that mass media can have on populations that grew up on idealistic images of war. Media for such projects can be obtained at the PBS, BBC, and History Channel websites.
Timelines are an essential part of historical education. Timelines take complicated historical narratives and condense them into a series of discrete events depicted on a horizontal line. A World War 1 timeline could show battles from 1914 to 1918, or it could show a longer term series of events including the lead up to, and aftermath of, the war. A sample WWI timeline can be found at PBS's WWI resource page.
A historical analysis is an account of the factors that contributed to the outbreak and resolution of a war. A historical analysis could take the form of an essay, a speech, a documentary film, or any other presentation that could be used to make clear, analytical arguments. All projects based on historical analysis must be thoroughly researched and present compelling, convincing evidence for a particular reading of history.
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