America Enters World War I
Subject Area and/or Course Title:
Targeted Grade Level:
Two to three 90-minute classes
Casey Metcalfe, 2015
Introductory Narrative to Lesson:
This lesson focuses on life on the home front in the years 1915-1919; specifically the beginning of war in Europe. In the pre-war years, the sinking of the Lusitania by a German U-boat in 1915 deeply affected the American psyche and cultivated a distrust of Germany. However, in the years following, President Woodrow Wilson advocated an isolationist policy saying America should “exhibit the fine poise of undisturbed judgment”. In contrast, former President Theodore Roosevelt encouraged intervention following Germany’s declaration of war on Belgium. When the United States officially entered the war in 1917 (following the interception of the Zimmerman Telegram), the image of the Lusitania was used across propaganda mediums to mobilize Americans to participate in the war effort through enlisting, rationing, and limiting political speech.
Lesson in Context
Preceding this lesson, students will have basic understanding of the broad political causes of World War I (MAIN acronym) and the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
Daily Bellringer (5 minutes)
What does it mean to “isolate”? When is a time that an individual/country might choose to isolate itself? Students will be prompted to share their definitions and an example of isolation. Teacher should guide students towards contextualizing question in terms of the previous lesson regarding the causes of World War I. (“Why would the United States decide to isolate themselves from European affairs in 1914?”)
Tough Choices: Roosevelt vs. Wilson (15 minutes)
The class will be split into two groups: One will analyze excerpts from Woodrow Wilson’s Appeal for Neutrality (1914) and the other will analyze Theodore Roosevelt’s America and the World War (1915). Students will work with table partners. After seven minutes, students will switch passages.
Brief Review (5 minutes)
Teacher should review responses with class as a whole when students have finished. Afterwards, ask students “Which one of these two men is President in 1914? Woodrow Wilson. “Based on Wilson’s views, what do you think the United States did when war broke in Europe?” Stayed out of the war, stayed neutral, isolated itself.
Cloze Notes: Introducing the Lusitania (10 minutes)
Teacher gives brief historical context about submarine warfare in the Atlantic Ocean and the final voyage of the British passenger ship. Students will follow along and annotate using iPad application Notability. Underlined text indicates blanks for students. Students will be expected to fill in blanks and add supplemental notes. Question for students: Now that Americans have died, will the US join the war?
Brain Break – 5 minutes
Story Behind the Song– “When the Lusitania Went Down” (20 minutes)
Students will listen to/analyze the 1915 song, “When the Lusitania Went Down” by Charles McCarron & Nat Vincent. Students will be supplied lyrics for the song and complete the “Story Behind the Song” questions with a new partner. Students should be primed for the dated nature of the recording. Ask: Predict how the recording from 1915 will sound. Why might it be useful to listen to a recording from the era rather than a contemporary one?
“When the Lusitania Went Down”
The nation is sad as can be,
A message came over the sea.
A thousand or more, who sailed from our shore,
Have gone to eternity.
The Statue of Liberty high,
Must now have a tear in her eye.
I think it’s a shame; no one is to blame,
But all we can do is just sigh.
Some of us lost a true sweetheart,
Some of us lost a dear dad,
Some lost their mothers, sisters and brothers
Some lost the best friends they had.
It’s time they were stopping this warfare,
If women and children must cry.
Many brave hearts went to sleep in the deep,
When the Lusitania went down.
Oh, listen to all these good deeds.
When we feel like crossing the sea,
American ships that sail from our slips,
Are safer for you and me.
A Yankee can go anywhere
As long as Old Glory is there.
Although they were warned, the warning they scorned,
And now we must cry in despair.
Story Behind the Song:
Afterwards, students will return to the large group and large group will review the questions together. Sheets will be collected for assessment purposes.
Cloze Notes: The Zimmerman Telegram (10 minutes)
Teacher directly instructs class in cloze notes regarding the Zimmerman Telegram and its historical significance. Students will follow along and annotate using iPad application Notability. Underlined text indicates blanks for students. Students will be expected to fill in blanks and add supplemental notes. Questions for students: Why is Mexico interested in gaining the SW United States? Why is Germany concerned about American intervention?
Compare/Contrast: 1915 vs. 1917 (20 minutes)
Students will compare textual elements of “When the Lusitania” to “Remember the Lusitania” using the Song comparison graphic organizer from Voices Across Time. Teacher should instruct students to focus on text solely. Questions to ask students: “Who is to blame for the sinking of the Lusitania in this 1917 song?” “What has changed between 1915 and 1917?” What is America preparing for?”
Note: No recording currently exists for “Remember the Lusitania”. Teachers who would like to use an audio recording and analyze musically will need to make their own. Sheet music is available at: http://memory.loc.gov/diglib/ihas/loc.natlib.ihas.200209832/default.html
“Remember the Lusitania” by Jess Sechrist, 1917
America once more is in battle array,
Flying her battle flags up high,
Preparing to fight for liberty,
May its banners forever fly
The stars and stripes must well do their part,
In crushing this wild warlord who violated all treaties,
Every rule of war and respects not international law.
Remember the Lusitania, the gallant queen of the sea,
Remember to souls, Remember the souls she carried,
Good Americans as you and me, Remember the Lusitania,
With those helpless women and children aboard,
Who went defenseless into the massacre,
And saw their country never more.
America once more is in battle array,
Flying her same old battle flags,
Striving to free the entire world,
From grasping Prussian autocrats
We must well do our part,
Our work is cut out it is in the cause of humanity.
Exit Slip submitted to Schoology via Discussion Board (5 minutes)
Was American entrance into World War I justified? Why or why not? Use specific textual evidence in your response. (3-4 sentences)
Daily Bellringer (5 minutes)
What does it mean to “persuade”? What have you learned about persuasion in your English-Language Arts class? Students will be prompted to share strategies from their persuasive writing unit earlier this year in English class.
Abbreviated Review (5 minutes)
Teacher will lead a group review of concepts from the previous lesson. Question to ask: “What events changed the way Americans viewed the war in Europe?”
Story Behind the Song– “I Didn’t Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier” (20 minutes)
Students will listen to/analyze the 1915 song, “I Didn’t Raise My Son to be a Soldier” by Al Piantadosi, 1915. Students will be supplied lyrics for the song and complete the “Story Behind the Song” questions with a new partner. Teacher should introduce the song with the understanding that students may have personal experience sending family members off to war. Use professional discretion.
Story Behind the Song: “I Didn’t Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier”
After reviewing questions, play/show lyrics to the song “I Didn’t Raise My Boy to Be a Coward”
Cloze Notes: Entrance into the War/Propaganda (20 minutes)
Teacher directly instructs class in cloze notes regarding the American entrance and its effects on the “homefront”. Students will follow along and annotate using iPad application Notability. Underlined text indicates blanks for students. Students will be expected to fill in blanks and add supplemental notes. Questions for students: What do these posters want the American people to do? What images do they show? Are there examples of propaganda in the world today? Where?
Station Activity: Total War on the Home Front (39-45 minutes)
Students will be given 13-15 minutes per station to finish a short analysis on a set of resources. Teacher should keep student to a strict timeframe to keep students working on their analyses.
Station One: Story Behind the Song– “Heatless, Meatless, Wheatless Days ” (12-15 minutes) Students will read the lyrics and complete a graphic organizer that focuses on how individuals cope with rationing. The graphic organizer will cover:
Station Two: Liberty Bonds Propaganda (12-15 minutes)
Students will analyze the following posters and analyze the images and text used.
After viewing each poster they will answer the following:
Station Three: Espionage/Sedition Acts (12-15 minutes)
Students will watch the Schooltube video and use the text of the Espionage and Sedition Acts to answer questions about free speech and why it was limited during the war. (http://www.schooltube.com/video/56c257eedf6b0b3ee7cf/)
If you’re interested…German Spies in America: http://www.historynet.com/world-war-i-intrigue-german-spies-in-new-york.htm
Questions for Students
If time allows, review answers with students. Focus specifically on how the government persuaded the American people using media, political action. Collect station activity sheets and grade based on effort and completion of analysis.
Students can create their own propaganda poster that incorporates relevant imagery and persuasive text. Consider putting students in groups and assessing their final product based on integration of the MAIN causes in the poster.
Exit Slip (5 minutes)
What sacrifices were made by Americans to support the war effort? Were these efforts worth the cost?
Feist, Leo, Nat Vincent, and Chas McCarron. “When the Lusitania Went Down”, 1915. New York, 1915. Notated Music. <http://www.loc.gov/item/ihas.100007623>
Hartzell, Roy. “Heatless, Meatless, Wheatless Days”, 1918. Washington D.C.: Howard Publishing Company, 1918, Notated Music. http://www.loc.gov/item/20145615477
Herbert Stuart. When the Lusitania Went Down. N.d. Archive.org. Web. 23 July 2015. <https://archive.org/details/WhenTheLusitaniaWentDown>.
Piantodosi , Al, Leo Feist, and Alfred Bryan. “I Didn’t Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier”, 1915. New York, 1915. Notated Music. <http://www.loc.gov/item/ihas.100008457/>
Pianadosi, Al, Leo Feist, and Alfred Bryan, “I Didn’t Raise My Boy To Be a Soldier.” Recording: Edison Collection, Library of Congress. <http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/4942>
Sechrist, Jess. “Remember the Lusitania”, 1917. Harrisburg, PA: Sanpan Publishing, 1917. Notated Music. <http://www.loc.gov/item/2014560208>
No recordings available for Sechrist, Hartzell.
Copyright 2011-2016 Center for American Music, University of Pittsburgh Library System