world war I web quest

World War I:

Weaponry, Tactics, and Propaganda


When a whirlwind series of events brought the continent of Europe to a condition of total war in the late Summer and Fall of 1914 hundreds of thousands of men marched off in grandiose parades with the age-old hope that they would be home by Christmas. They couldn't have been more wrong! With the widespread use of weapons of mass destruction like the rapid-fire machine gun and heavy artillery, the war in Western Europe quickly bogged down in a horribly bloody stalemate that would last four years. Soldiers on both sides were forced to seek refuge underground in elaborate systems of trenches. Neither side - the Allied Powers of France, Great Britain, Italy, Russia, and others, or the Central Powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire - could gain an advantage over the other, despite enormous casualties. Each side tried desperately to gain the upper hand, sometimes introducing terrible new weapons like poison gas, submarines, airplanes, and tanks, often to no avail. And it was left to the civilian governments to come up with methods of communication - propaganda - to encourage their citizenry to keep up the fight. It was only with the development of new tactics that enabled the commanding officers and soldiers to use these new weapons in such a way as to overcome the stalemate of the Western Front and to force the Central Powers to seek an armistice with the Allies. On November 11, 1918, after four frightfully deadly years that would cause the millions of men lost in battle to become known as The Lost Generation, the soon-to-be misnamed "War to End All Wars" was finally over.

In this web quest you and two team members will be responsible for investigating and reporting on the weaponry, tactics, and propaganda of the Great War.





Although all wars are by definition violent and bloody, the Great War was particularly so. Why was that the case? Did it have to be that way? What was it about that conflict that caused so much death and destruction?



• use the power of the Internet for advanced investigation of World War I.

• learn information about three key aspects - weapons, tactics, and propaganda - of this conflict.

• realize complex topics can be looked at from various perspectives.

• plan and create a newspaper retrospective that details aspects of World War I.

• work with your teammates to problem-solve the cooperative task of creating your team's newspaper.

• develop an interest in the study the United States as a member of the world community.



The time period is early 1919. Our community, like many around the nation and world, is trying to make sense of the recent carnage that took place mostly on the battlefields of Europe. In light of that effort, the local newspaper has assigned several teams of three freelance reporters to investigate why the Great War was so deadly and how the various governments involved convinced their citizens to participate in such a bloody conflict. You, along with three other researchers, have been assigned to create a newspaper retrospective as an EXTRA COMMEMORATIVE EDITION. This newspaper will present your team's combined answer to the Quest(ion).



Although all wars are violent and bloody, World War I was particularly so. Those in control of the military forces on both sides had not perfected tactics that would overcome terrible new killing machines. The result was a stalemate where neither side could gain an advantage over the other for four long years. The governments of those nations at war had to convince their citizens that it was in their interest to continue the fight in face of terrible loss of life. It was only with the development of new tactics that the long, bloody stalemate was broken, and the end of the war was in sight.

The first step in this process is for each member of your three member reporting team to become an expert in one aspect of the war. You will then bring your newly found expertise back to share with your team. The last step in the process will be to create your extra commemorative edition newspaper retrospective of the Great War.

Step 1: Investigating Different Aspects of World War I

Based upon three different aspects of World War I, choose which area/aspect on which you would like to become expert. The questions following each area/aspect may help you decide.

Area/Aspect: Weapons


Question(s): What was it about these weapons that caused so much death and destruction? What new weapons were introduced during this conflict?

Area/Aspect: Tactics


Question(s): It is often said that military forces train for the previous war and are therefore unprepared to fight the current conflict. That was certainly true at the beginning of World War I. Why did it take so long for those in command to realize that old tactics would not work against these newer weapons? What new tactics were developed to overcome the stalemate of trench warfare?

Area/Aspect: Propaganda


Question(s): What is propaganda and how is it used? How were the various governments able to convince their citizens that they should take their part in the war efforts?

Once all members of your team have decided on an area to research, head to the Resources area to begin this part of your task. When you have finished with this task, please return to this page.

Step 2: Sharing Your Expertise


Your task is now to share your new-found expertise with all members of your group. You are to listen carefully to each others' presentations and to take Research Notes on each expert's information they are presenting to you. At the end of this task, your whole group will be fully informed about the weapons, tactics, and propaganda of World War I. It is then time to move on to the third and final task.

Step 3: Putting It All Together


This third and final task is put your new-found knowledge together in an extra commemorative newspaper retrospective edition. You are to include information and visuals about the three areas /aspects of the war that all of you researched. Your group must work cooperatively to produce your newspaper. To help guide you in completing your newspaper, you may want to check Writing News Stories. Once your newspaper is complete, your group will present your work to the class. Your group will be graded both on the quality of your newspaper and your collaborative efforts as a member of your reporting team. You may check out the Newspaper Assignment to see what is expected of you.

Good luck! Our newspaper publisher and local community are counting on you!

DO NOT panic if you are unable to answer each question listed on the worksheet. The worksheets are a TOOL to help gather information that you will need to write your newspaper article(s)




Download and print this Weapons Worksheet to help you understand these links.

When you have completely answered all the questions on your worksheet, please return to the Process page to see what your next step will be.


Download and print this Tactics Worksheet to help you understand these links. tactics

When you have completely answered all the questions on your worksheet, please return to the Process page to see what your next step will be.


Download and print this Propaganda Worksheet to help you understand these links.

When you have completely answered all the questions on your worksheet, please return to the Process page to see what your next step will be.



You and your group members will be graded using this Newspaper Assignment rubric.  Make sure you keep it in mind as you work collaboratively to create your newspaper. Click the link for more information on the How to's of creating a newspaper



It's clear, the world is full of complex topics that need sharp-thinking people to understand them and make decisions. There is a saying, "Knowledge is Power." Through your team's activities, you've learned strategies for analyzing complex topics, formulating action plans, and working together toward effective compromise solutions. We hope you feel this new power that you've gained. What will you do with it?