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World War One Main Events Using Primary Sources

Main Core Tie

Social Studies - 6th Grade
Standard 4 Objective 1

Time Frame

1 class periods of 45 minutes each

Group Size

Small Groups


Emily Olaya


Students will explore the main events of World War One using primary source documents.

Enduring Understanding:
Students will understand the causes, effects, and main events of World War One.

Essential Questions:
What is the significance of the the main events in WWI?


  • 4-6 Copies of text for each topic (print from the attached websites)
  • combine the Christmas Truce and Christmas in the Trenches into one group
  • Overhead timer, watch/clock, or stopwatch
  • pencil and paper for each student

Student Prior Knowledge

Ask the students what some main events were in World War One. Make a list as a class. Use this list to find out what students already know about what happened during the war.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will analyze primary source documents to determine details about the main events of World War One.

Instructional Procedures


  1. Divide the students into 7 small groups.
  2. Give each group copies of the WWI events printed from the attached websites. Topics include: Christmas Truce & Christmas in the Trenches, Lusitania, Austria Invades Serbia, Air Warfare, Germany Marches Through Brussels, Gas Attack, Assassination of an Archduke Ferdinand
  3. Have students create a graphic organizer with a piece of paper by folding it in half in one direction and in half the other direction (there should be 4 boxes on each side when finished)
  4. Give students time to read their resource and take notes on their chart. Notes should be limited to a list of words that will help them remember details of the story.
  5. Assign each student in each group a number or letter (setting up a jigsaw). Have all students from the same number or letter group together.
  6. Use an overhead timer, watch or other timer to keep track of time for this part of the lesson. Give each student 30 seconds to read their list of words and have the other students in the group copy the list. Only the speaker can share- no other questions or comments from group members. If the speaker finishes before the 30 second time is called, they must sit silently until the next person's turn.
  7. After each student has shared, give an extra minute for any student in the group to share their list if they did not finish. If the time is still running and the group is finished, they should sit silently. If the speaker has not finished within the time, they must stop speaking and wait until later to finish.
  8. Go around the circle again and give each student 1 minute to explain what their words mean. Other students should be taking notes next to the list of words they have on their paper so that they can remember the details of the main event. If the speaker is finished sharing during his/her minute, they must wait silently until it is the next person's turn. If the speaker has not finished within the time, they must stop speaking and wait until later to finish.
  9. When each student has had one minute, give one extra minute for any students who did not finish their explanation. If the whole group has finished, they must wait silently until the time has expired.
  10. If one or two groups are uneven and do not include all topics, have someone from another group who has already shared switch to the group who is missing that topic. The student would share his topic again and get notes from the new group.
  11. Bring the class back to their seats and give them a blank sheet of paper. Have them create a web with the title "Main Events of WWI" in the middle. Have them put 7 bubbles around the center with the 7 topics they heard about: Gas attacks, Archduke Ferdinand, Christmas Truce, Germany through Brussels, Lusitania, Air Warfare, Austria ready to invade Serbia. Have students add bubbles to each one with details about what the event is and why it is important to WWI. (an example of a blank web is attached if the teacher does not want to have students create a web).


Format for jigsaw adapted from Judy Jackman

Created: 06/26/2009
Updated: 02/05/2018