All Quiet on the Western Front

A lesson plan that discusses the treatment of war In All Quiet on the Western Front and leads students to write poetry inspired by the novel. Writing poetry based on a war novel is an interesting twist that many students will enjoy.  Lesson includes vocabulary, extension activities, etc.

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
CLE 3002.3.1
Write in a variety of modes for different audiences and purposes.
CLE 3002.3.2
Employ various prewriting strategies.
CLE 3002.8.1
Demonstrate knowledge of significant works of world literature.
CLE 3002.8.2
Understand the characteristics of various literary genres (e.g., poetry, novel, biography, short story, essay, drama).
CLE 3002.8.3
Recognize the conventions of various literary genres and understand how these conventions articulate the writers vision.
CLE 3002.8.4
Analyze works of literature for what is suggested about the historical period in which they were written.
CLE 3002.8.5
Know and use appropriate literary terms to derive meaning from various literary genres.
Alignment of this item to academic standards is based on recommendations from content creators, resource curators, and visitors to this website. It is the responsibility of each educator to verify that the materials are appropriate for your content area, aligned to current academic standards, and will be beneficial to your specific students.
Learning objectives: 

Students will understand the following:

  • Works of art about war can call up strong emotions in readers.
  • The writing process can be applied to writing poems.

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Differentiation suggestions: 
  • If you want a more structured approach for younger students, consider having all students start with the same line of poetry—one that you or a student invents—and see where each student takes it.
Extension suggestions: 

Banned Books

  • Because All Quiet on the Western Front offers a gruesome portrayal of a war lost by the Germans, it infuriated Adolph Hitler, who ordered the book banned and destroyed throughout Germany. Many critics, however, consider it the best antiwar novel ever written. Ask each student to research one other famous work of literature that is generally revered by critics but that has been banned somewhere in the world or in another part of the country. (Make sure that they choose different books and that the books they have chosen are not currently banned by your school district.) Students should investigate when, why, and by whom the book was banned as well as any attempts that were made to defend it. They should also investigate sources of praise of the literature in question. What have critics said in favor or it? When their information is complete, have your students each write a paragraph describing the banning (and reinstatement) of the book they chose. You can then create a banned books display in your school library, showing copies of the banned books along with their one-paragraph descriptions.

War Flowchart

  • It may seem obvious, but the decision to wage war affects a great deal more than the members of a nation's military services. World War I was thought of as a "total war," meaning that it involved civilians and civilian institutions in many different ways. Work with your students to create a war flowchart, which will provide a visual representation of how a declaration of war in an industrialized nation filters down through political and military levels to influence all aspects of society. First, have your students brainstorm a list of all the different elements of society that are affected by a nation's involvement in a war. Be sure that they take their thinking beyond the obvious—to not only military industries, for example, but also families that lose their loved ones, women who enter the workforce, and so on. When the list is complete, divide your students into groups, and ask each group to organize the items on the list into a comprehensive flowchart that traces the chain of influence down from the declaration of war to the lives of millions of private citizens. Be sure to remind students that flowcharts can contain lateral connections and reverse connections; they need not be linear and hierarchical. When the groups are finished, ask each one to share its chart with the class. You can conclude with a discussion about whether war is ever justified, given the numerous effects it can have on a people.

Helpful Hints

For this lesson, you will need:

  • Optional: a dictionary or glossary of literary terms