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World War I:
A Stage of Players

A Web Quest for High School World History

Designed by

Matt Daigle
Casey Pope
Randy Royal
Justin Townsend

Introduction | Task | Process | Evaluation | Conclusion | Credits | Teacher Page

The period from August 1914 to November 1918 represents one of the most destructive periods in human history.  The events of this conflict changed the face of Europe and set in motion a course of events that shaped the twentieth century.  Your responsibility in this exercise will be to assume one of four possible roles and produce the described article to demonstrate your understanding of the issues.  You will work in groups of up six to develop a presentation for the class.  However, each student must submit a written product.  Roles will be assigned on a first come first serve basis.  Your research should be based on a combination of the provided links as well as personal investigations of the topic from Dogpile (link to be provided).

The Task

You have four possible identities for this Web Quest

1.   The year is 1914.  You are a reporter for a prominent American Newspaper.  You have traveled to England to write as a war correspondent, observing what is being called "The War to End All Wars" and you are putting together an expositional story to bring the United States public up to speed on the background and current events of the war.

2.   The year is 1917.  You are Dr. Constantin T. Dumba,  a respected doctor from Austria-Hungary.  You are the ambassador to the United States and reside there for much of the year.  You are welcome in Washington D.C., the capitol of the United States. 
      The U.S. has recently joined up with the enemy and it looks like they might prove to be a commanding force in the effort to destroy your family's allies.  Little do they realize that you are a spy.  You plan to use your access to the United States to gauge their ability to pose a threat against your side in "The Great War" and the opinions of the Americans towards war.  Send correspondence home to Austria to feed information about America's war effort and capabilities.


3.   The year is 1914.  You are Gavrilo Princip.  You are a member of the Black Hand in Serbia. You have been apprehended for the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand.  With a gun to your head, you are being forced to write out your confession of guilt. 
      In your confession, explain why you felt that the assassination was necessary.  Explain about the political tensions of the past few years and why there were tensions to begin with.  You feel that it is necessary to expose the Black Hand, so explain who they are and what they are about.

4.    The war is over, and you have lost.  You have survived the horror that was the Western Front.  You have seen death and destruction first hand.  Now, you must return home to East Prussia.
      How has the landscape change since you left your home and went to war?  Do you notice any changes in the people that you meet on your way?  Do they seem to be disheartened or completely hopeless in the face of utter destruction of their homeland.
      Keep a journal of your journey home.  Write daily entries of the three to four weeks that it takes to walk home.  Identify any hardships that you have to endure while you travel. Describe the landscape that you see on your way home and make insights into the justification of a war that causes so much destruction. 

       "Under the oak trees on the road to Potsdam 
           went a procession in broad daylight.
          At the front was a drum, at the rear a flag,
          and in the middle they carried a coffin."

                                   Full Text

The Process

Step 1:  Choose an identity from the choices above. 
Step 2:  Divide into groups of six based on your chosen identity and decide which job in the group you will take. 
Step 3:  Outline the research portion of the project, identifying key words, dates, and   individuals.  Sample roles: Biographer, identify key persons related to your identity.  Geographer, research the area pertaining to your chosen character.  Propagandists, examine the roles of print, visual, and audio media influenced your life. 
Step 4:  Gain access to the web and research your topic as completely as possible. 
Step 5:  Design a group presentation to be presented before the entire class. 
Step 6:  Present before the class. 
Step 7:  At home, write the required paper, assuming the identity of the character that you have chosen. 

Possible Sources:

General Information:


Use this search engine for any self guided web based research.  The use of any other search engines must be approved by the teacher prior to accessing.

Brigham Young Archives

The document archives of Brigham Young University are an excellent starting point for any research on World War One.  The archives are divided by year and country making it very easy to access information relating to a particular country.

Trenches On The Web

The reference library of Trenches On The Web provides an amazing overview of various aspects of the conflict, from weapons to political and military leaders.  This should be among one of the first stops for students looking for information on an individual or national capabilities.

World War I

This site provides a useful link to information on the assassination of Franz Ferdinand.  Anyone researching the Black Hand will want to examine this site early.

Information by Country

The University of Kansas provides a list of links relating to WWI on this site.  The information is divided by country making it very easy for students to find information on a particular aspect of that country.

Imperial War Museum

The Imperial War Museum offers an excellent online exhibit including interviews with veterans of the WWI.  This oral history will allow students to hear of the horrors of the war from the men in the trenches.

The Black Hand

The University of Kansas provides an excellent overview of the birth and early activity of this terrorist group.  Special attention is given to the groups most notorious act, the 1914 assassination.


This site provides an excellent overview of the war.  The oral history will be very useful to those of you doing the first assignment.

Zimmerman Telegraph

Role One Links:
The purpose of this assignment is to report on the early phase of the war from the Allies point of view.  For this reason, your research should focus primarily on the British.  The oral history links from the BBC gives the story from the soldiers point of view.  Trenches on the Web and The Imperial War Museum  will be major sources of information.  Your news report should reflect the close Anglo-American relationship.

Role Two Links:
The role here is to provide information home to Austria.  The country information link will be a prime resourse for this assignment.  Keep in mind that the US was held in very low regard by the Great Powers and your intelligence reports should reflect this attitude.  The Brigham Young and the Zimmerman links will also help to describe US attitudes toward the war.

Role Three Links:
The role of a terrorist is not something new to the world.  The Black Hand link will give you a great starting point for your research into terrorism in the early twentieth century.  Keep in mind that your are in fear for your life.  Give as much detail as possible in your confession.

Role Four Links:
Your responsibility here will be to report on what you see.  For this reason, photos will be a major part of your research.  Trenched on the Web has a photo archive that will give you a major start towards this assignment.  The World War I link also has a photo archive that can be of value here.  The BBC link can help by giving a British view of what was going on in the fall of 1918.  Remember that this assignment should be in the form of a journal, not a formal paper.

* Special Note *
The photos at the end of each assignment also provide links to valuable research sites relating to the topic of the assignment.  Don't limit your research to one or two sites.  The more information you have the more complete the picture you will be able to provide to your classmates.


Describe to the learners how their performance will be evaluated. Specify whether there will be a common grade for group work vs. individual grades.









Individual Conclusion Papers 
Student does not have an adequate understanding of the content and has not worked hard enough on their paper.
Student has an adequate understanding of the content, and this shows in the work done on the paper
  • Student has complete content knowledge and has created complete and rational thoughts through the paper.
Student exceeds expectations on content knowledge, research, and paper creation.
Group Research Notes


Posses minimal resources (2-3), verry little detail, only general overview of topic, no primary sources, poorly organized, messy, over all amateur
Only a few resource (3-4), general detail, shallow depth, general overview, no primary sources, loosely organized
More than a few resources, (5-6), detailed, good overview, 1 Primary source, some organization, neat presentation of turned in material (notes)
Adequate research, (7+), in depthe detail, good overview supported by sources, well organized, 2 or more primary sources, good presentation of notes.
Group Presentation


Group participation is limited to a few members.  The information provided introduces the major topics without addressing their impact on the overall subject.  The work is incomplete to provide fellow students with an adequate unstanding.
Only half of the group members take an active role in the presentation.  The information provided touches on some of the major elements without addressing all of the issues relevant to the subject.
Most of the project meets the standards of the teacher.  Over half the group members are involved in the presentation.  The presentation conforms to the selected role.  The infomation provided addresses the all of the major elements of the topic. 
Each member of the group is involved in the presentation.  The presentation complies to the role chosen by the group members.  The presentation provides substantial detail on the subject matter of the topic provided detailed information on the major events and personalities of the topic. 
Quiz on Presentations




With the completion of this WebQuest, you will have a better understanding of the First World War,  its complications and the effects of the war.  You have covered the major phases of the war: the causes, the outbreak of war, United States involvement, and the aftermath of war.  Hopefully, you now have the interest needed to continue your study of the First World War.  A better understanding of History allows us to learn from our mistakes, and you must not forget that knowledge is power. 
Put a couple of sentences here that summarize what they will have accomplished or learned by completing this activity or lesson. You might also include some rhetorical questions or additional links to encourage them to extend their thinking into other content beyond this lesson.

Credits & References

Last updated on August 15, 1999. Based on a template from The WebQuest Page