Skip Discover Education Main Navigation
Skip Discover Education Main Navigation

Home> Teachers> Free Lesson Plans> World War I And Its Aftermath

World War I And Its AftermathWorld-War-I-And-Its-Aftermath

  • Subject: U.S. History
  • |
  • Grade(s): 9-12
  • |
  • Duration: One or two class periods

Lesson Plan Sections


Students will
  • discuss what the term nationalism means;
  • research this concept as it relates to the beginning of World War I; and
  • participate in a debate about the pros and cons of nationalism.


  • Newsprint and markers
  • Paper and pencils
  • Computer with Internet access
  • World War I and Its Aftermath video and VCR


  1. Ask students if they know what the term nationalism means. Write their ideas on a sheet of newsprint. If students have some understanding, they may make suggestions such as the following:


    • Nationalism is just like patriotism.
    • Nationalism is when people identify with their country.
    • Nationalism is extreme love of one's country.


  2. Tell students that they are going to be examining nationalism during World War I. Explain that they will first research the role nationalism played in European countries right before the beginning of World War I. Then, they will debate whether nationalism was a positive or negative influence. One side will take the position that it was positive, the other that it was negative. Divide the class into the two groups.
  3. Show the Rise of Nationalism segment of the video to set the stage of what this time period was like Europe.
  4. Give students time in class to conduct their research. The following Web site have useful information for both sides:

  5. After each group has completed its research, hold the debate in class. Give each side about 5 minutes to present its argument and about 10 minutes for a rebuttal.
  6. Conclude the lesson by bringing students back together for a final class discussion. Based on the debate, which side do students think "won"? Do they believe nationalism was a positive or negative force in pre-World War I Europe? Did it contribute to the outbreak of World War I? Encourage students to identify sources to support their position.

Back to Top


Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students' work during this lesson.
  • Three points: Students participated actively in class discussions; completed their research carefully and thoroughly; presented clear, thoughtful arguments during the debate.
  • Two points: Students participated in class discussions; completed their research; presented competent arguments during the debate.
  • One point: Students participated little in class discussions; had difficulty completing their research; did not present convincing arguments during the debate.

Back to Top


  • Follow up on the class discussion by asking each student to write a short essay summarizing his or her position. Remind students to state their argument clearly and to provide sources to support their ideas.
  • Show students the Death from Above: The Red Baron segment from the video. Discuss how historians were able to solve the mystery of who shot the Red Baron. Have students create a chart showing the different phases of the historians' investigation.
Another famous mystery is the disappearance of Amelia Earhart in 1937. Have students research different theories of what caused her disappearance. These Web sites are good places to start:

Back to Top


Definition: Agreements between countries; the two main alliances formed before World War I were the Central Powers and the Allied Powers.
Context: Countries formed alliances before World War I because they were scared and thought having the agreements would put them in a better position to help each other in the case of war.

Allied Powers
Definition: The alliance between France, Great Britain, Russian, Italy, and the United States that fought together during World War I
Context: Although the Allied Powers won World War I, victory came at a tremendous cost to all countries involved.

Central Powers
Definition: An alliance consisting of Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, Germany, and the Ottoman Empire
Context: The Central Powers were weakened considerably as a result of World War I.

Definition: A sense of extreme pride or loyalty to a particular country
Context: Historians are still debating the role nationalism played in the outbreak of World War I.

World War I
Definition: A war that lasted from 1914 to 1918 and involved more countries and caused greater destruction than any previous war
Context: World War I devastated Europe and resulted in the deaths of almost 10 million soldiers.

Back to Top


This lesson plan addresses the following curriculum standards created by the National Council for the Social Studies:

Back to Top


Marilyn Fenichel, education writer and editor

Back to Top

  • Culture
  • People, Places, and Environments
  • Individuals, Groups, and Institutions
  • Power, Authority, and Governance