Lesson Snapshot

1. Engage: First, students will begin with a quick freewrite responding to the following prompt–when is it ok to intervene in a conflict between friends? The teacher should elicit a few responses and then draw connections between personal situations and the U.S. becoming involved in WWI.
Then, students will use prior knowledge to brainstorm the causes of WWI in Europe and view a brief video clip on these causes. They will then read a quote from President Woodrow Wilson affirming U.S. neutrality, after which they will be given the essential question and the remaining lesson will be introduced.

2. Explore: In pairs/small groups students will source, contextualize, and annotate primary sources surrounding U.S. causes of WWI.

3. Explain: In whole class discussion, students will review the sources and what they reveal about U.S. entry into WWI. They will then participate in a “Four Corners” activity debating whether or not U.S. entry into the war was justified.

4. Extend/Expand: Students will read and compare/contrast two secondary source excerpts on U.S. entry into WWI-one from Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States and one from Schweikart and Allen’s A Patriot’s History of the United States. They will discuss with an elbow partner which source they believe is more persuasive and why using textual evidence.

5. Evaluate: Students will have the option to write one of the following: (1) a newspaper editorial supporting/opposing U.S. entry into WWI, or (2) an isolationist/interventionist congressman opposing/supporting the U.S.’s declaration of war.