America and World War I

This project-based lesson is specifically designed to motivate students and challenge them to examine, analyze and evaluate the causes and consequences of World War I. In this lesson, students will analyze sources related to major events during World War I. In addition, students will be provided with the opportunity to discover the reasons why the United States entered into World War I and summarize the implications this decision had on American society

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
Evaluate the topic or subject in multiple diverse formats and media.
Determine multiple central ideas of a text or texts and analyze their development; provide a critical summary.
Analyze how an author's choices regarding the ordering of ideas and events, the introduction and development of ideas, and connections among ideas...
Explain the causes of World War I in 1914 and the reasons for the initial declaration of United States' neutrality.
Justify with supporting detail from text, the reasons for American entry into World War I, including the use of unrestricted submarine warfare by the Germans, the...
Analyze the aims and negotiating roles of world leaders, including Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points, and the causes and effects of the United States' rejection...
Analyze the political, economic, and social ramifications of World War I on the home front, including the role played by women and minorities, voluntary rationing, the...
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: 

The student will:

  • Identify the long-term causes and immediate circumstances that led to World War I.
  • Explain why the United States entered the war.
  • Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.
  • Determine and assess the consequences of World War I.
  • Evaluate various explanations for actions or events during World War I, and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence.
Essential and guiding questions: 
  • When American lives were threatened by German aggression, how did Americans react to President Woodrow Wilson’s response to this aggression?
  • When the United States became involved in World War I, how did it make the world “safe for democracy”?
  • How could President Wilson’s response to the events of World War I been more timely and appropriate to better protect American interest?

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Extension suggestions: 

Allow students to revise their projects based on teacher and class feedback. Then allow students to set up exhibits in the hallway or library to share with other classes, teachers, administrators, and parents. You might even organize an afterschool event to allow students to show off their work to the community. 

Helpful Hints


  • Experiencing War: Stories from the Veterans History Project - World War I The Great War
  • “From the Home Front and the Front Lines”
  • Newspaper Pictorials World War I Rotogravures 1913-1919
  • The Stars and Stripes: The American Soldiers' Newspaper of World War I, 1918-1919
  • World War I Posters
  • Analysis Tool: Prints and Photographs
  • Student Primary Source Analysis Tool
  • Analysis Tool: Primary Sources
  • Animoto World War I Presentation
  • World War I PowerPoint
  • PBS: The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century
  • Computer lab
  • Historical Events Investigative Worksheet
  • Descriptive Terms and Phrases Worksheet
  • Gallery Walk Student Assessment Worksheet
  • Construction paper
  • glue sticks
  • scissors
  • cereal boxes
  • colored butcher paper
  • markers
  • colored pencils
  • computers
  • trifold poster board
  • magazines
  • flash drives
  • laptop computers
  • other electronic devices