It is an exciting moment for history educators and enthusiasts as six of this year’s Oscar Best Picture nominees were set in historical eras. Sam Mendes’s World War I film, 1917, has been hailed as a technical and visual triumph and was honored with Best Picture and Best Director at the Golden Globe Awards. The film, set on the Western Front in April of 1917, follows two British soldiers (George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman) as they set out to deliver a critical and urgent message to a regiment that is set to march into a trap and be decimated.  The men must connect with the isolated regiment in time and their journey will be incredibly dangerous. 1917’s “single shot” film technique, incredible performances, and trench warfare sound elements create a visceral and moving experience for the audience.

1917’s popularity and critical acclaim has also provided history teachers with a vital moment to consider how The Great War is remembered and learned. A close and careful study of World War I allows students to critically think about how rapid industrialization, globalization, imperialism and complex alliances all shaped the pre-War landscape and how these factors served as the catalysts of war.

Student exploration of World War I should also include analysis of how the first modern war forever changed society. Advances in military technology ushered in deadly weapons such as tanks, airplanes, poison gas, and machine guns – while significant improvements in medical technology brought men who survived the War home but who suffered from both physical and emotional trauma.

Read ‘Engaging SEL Competencies to Create a Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Classroom’ by Meg Honey

Anna Coleman Ladd And Soldier (1918), Getty Images.

 Pearson’s Project Imagine: World History is a modular, digital learning program for World History curriculum. Fully immersive activities and compelling primary sources allow students to deeply connect with content, practice historical thinking skills, and develop historical empathy.

Save Bread Poster (1910) British War Propaganda Poster, Ministry of Food

The Project Imagine World War I module gives students rich opportunities to closely study The Great War in a variety of engaging and exciting ways. The vast collection of primary sources includes songs, interviews, video footage, documents, children’s picture books, and propaganda posters. Students can assume the role of a character and examine how one’s personal circumstances and country of origin impact historical outcomes.

Read ‘Using EdTech to Foster Historical Empathy’ by Meg Honey

In the Decision Tree immersive, students analyze primary sources to determine how they might best support the war effort and “Do Their Bit For Britain.”

The visually impactful Survive On The Front Lines immersive brings students to Flanders Field where they learn about the harsh realities of trench warfare and the long impact The Great War had on the places of battle and on those who served.

Solitary Belgian Soldier In An Advanced Post Aiming A Maxim Gun Against Invading Germans (1914) Everett Historical Collection.

For more information about the Project Imagine World War I immersive, please watch the detailed walk-through with marketing manager Amy Winters. Ready to dive in and try it yourself? Experience the Decision Tree module from Project Imagine: World History.!

Request a pilot of Project Imagine: World History or Project Imagine: U.S. History for your classroom.

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Meg Honey

Meg Honey

Humanities Curriculum Specialist

Note: Fresh Ideas for Teaching blog contributors have been compensated for sharing personal teaching experiences on our blog. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.