Lesson Plan - Harry S. Truman Library and Museum

World War I Lesson Plan
Teacher Name:
Valerie Schrag
Grade level(s): 11
Course: Survey of U.S. History
Describe the classroom or homework activity to be performed (individual assignment, cooperative learning,
cross-curricular, technology based, using artifacts and/or primary sources, etc.)
This is a primary source activity. Students will read and analyze an excerpt from Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen
Points speech, delivered to Congress in January 1918. The classroom activity is both an individual and a
cooperative learning activity.
Rationale (why are you doing this?) Students must understand Wilson’s idealism, codified in the Fourteen
Points, in order to understand the difficulties he faced at the Versailles peace talks. The ideals presented in the
Fourteen Points recur in history, namely in the Atlantic Charter signed in 1941. Understanding the Fourteen Points
also presents the students with the opportunity to critically evaluate the effectiveness of Wilson’s proposals in the
post-World War I world.
Required time frame: One 60-minute class period
From where in this WW I conference did you get the idea for this activity or assignment (speaker,
document, photograph, activity, audio recording, other)?
I began to develop this lesson while walking through the National World War I Museum at the Liberty Memorial.
It further took shape during the cooperative learning activity covering the Treaty of Versailles.
Lesson objectives – the student will:
 The student will analyze the text of Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points speech.
 The student will evaluate the effect of the Fourteen Points on the Versailles peace talks.
 The student will draw conclusions about the viability of the Fourteen Points within the context of the carnage
of the Great War.
District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met (be specific when
 Kansas State Social Studies Standards – High School: U.S. History, Benchmark 1, Indicator 6
 Kansas State Social Studies Standards – High School: U.S. History, Benchmark 5, Indicator 3
 Kansas State Social Studies Standards – High School: World History, Benchmark 3, Indicator 1
Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed – cite title and other detailed
 Textbook – The Americans (McDougal Littell), chapter 11, section 4
 chart for the analysis of Wilson’s Fourteen Points speech
Primary sources (document, photograph, artifact, diary or letter, audio or visual recording, etc.) needed –
cite detailed information:
 excerpted text of Wilson’s “Fourteen Points” speech (attached)
Technology required: No technology is required for this activity.
Fully describe the activity or assignment in detail. What will both you and the students do?
1. As homework for the night before, the students will have read The Americans, chapter 11, section 4. This
section gives an overview of the Fourteen Points and the Treaty of Versailles.
2. Prior to the start of class, place the 8 sections of Wilson’s speech (see attached) into individual envelopes.
Each envelope will contain one section of the speech. Hand one envelope to each student at the start of the
class period. For a class of 24 students, you will need 3 copies of each section of the speech.
3. Each student must read his/her section of the speech, and identify 4 summary points for the section. These
summary points should be written in the column to the right of the text of the speech. Each student must be
able to explain and interpret his/her section of the speech to the class.
4. Once each student has successfully interpreted his/her section of the speech, divide the class into 3 large groups
(8 students per group). Each student in the group will have read a different excerpt from the Fourteen Points
speech; by combining together, they will have interpreted the full excerpt. At this time, hand each student a
copy of the full text excerpt with space for the summary points (see attached).
5. Within each group, the students will share their summary points about each section of text. The students
should go in order (1-8). Each student should write the summary points on his/her full text excerpt.
6. After each group has finished its analysis, the activity turns to a class discussion.
7. Example of class discussion questions:
a. Which of the Fourteen Points do you feel is the most important? Why?
b. In what order would you rank the fourteen points, from most important to least important?
c. What was Woodrow Wilson trying to accomplish with the Fourteen Points?
d. This speech was given in January 1918, nearly ten months before the armistice was signed. What
influence did the Fourteen Points have on the remainder of the war? What effect did the Fourteen Points
have on the Versailles peace talks?
e. How realistic were Wilson’s ideas? Explain.
f. How idealistic were Wilson’s ideas? Explain.
g. Do the Fourteen Points address the causes of World War I? If yes, which ones?
h. Which current-day issues can be traced back to the flawed peace of Versailles? Would the full adoption
of Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points have prevented these problems?
Assessment: fully explain your assessment method in detail or create and attach your scoring guide:
The unit test for World War I will include the following question about the Fourteen Points:
“At the end of World War I, Woodrow Wilson presented a plan to create a lasting peace. His plan, known
as the Fourteen Points, met stiff opposition at both the Paris peace talks and back home in the United
States. Describe the ideals expressed in this document and how well it addressed the causes of the war.
Explain why many Europeans and Americans objected to the Fourteen Points. In your opinion, was
Wilson’s plan a viable proposal? Explain.”
The students will write a 3-5 paragraph essay in answer to the question.
Primary Source Analysis Worksheet
Excerpt from Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points speech – January 8, 1918
(Source: http://net.lib.byu.edu/~rdh7/wwi/1918/14points.html)
It will be our wish and purpose that the processes of peace, when they are
begun, shall be absolutely open and that they shall involve and permit
henceforth no secret understandings of any kind. The day of conquest and
aggrandizement is gone by; so is also the day of secret covenants entered into
in the interest of particular governments and likely at some unlooked-for
moment to upset the peace of the world. It is this happy fact, now clear to the
view of every public man whose thoughts do not still linger in an age that is
dead and gone, which makes it possible for every nation whose purposes are
consistent with justice and the peace of the world to avow nor or at any other
time the objects it has in view.
Important Ideas & Summary
We entered this war because violations of right had occurred which touched
us to the quick and made the life of our own people impossible unless they
were corrected and the world secure once for all against their recurrence.
What we demand in this war, therefore, is nothing peculiar to ourselves. It is
that the world be made fit and safe to live in; and particularly that it be made
safe for every peace-loving nation which, like our own, wishes to live its own
life, determine its own institutions, be assured of justice and fair dealing by
the other peoples of the world as against force and selfish aggression. All the
peoples of the world are in effect partners in this interest, and for our own part
we see very clearly that unless justice be done to others it will not be done to
us. The program of the world's peace, therefore, is our program; and that
program, the only possible program, as we see it, is this:
Important Ideas & Summary
I. Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no
private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed
always frankly and in the public view.
Important Ideas & Summary
II. Absolute freedom of navigation upon the seas, outside territorial waters,
alike in peace and in war, except as the seas may be closed in whole or in part
by international action for the enforcement of international covenants.
III. The removal, so far as possible, of all economic barriers and the
establishment of an equality of trade conditions among all the nations
consenting to the peace and associating themselves for its maintenance.
IV. Adequate guarantees given and taken that national armaments will be
reduced to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety.
V. A free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial
claims, based upon a strict observance of the principle that in determining all
such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must
have equal weight with the equitable claims of the government whose title is
to be determined.
Important Ideas & Summary
VI. The evacuation of all Russian territory and such a settlement of all
questions affecting Russia as will secure the best and freest cooperation of the
other nations of the world in obtaining for her an unhampered and
unembarrassed opportunity for the independent determination of her own
political development and national policy and assure her of a sincere welcome
into the society of free nations under institutions of her own choosing; and,
more than a welcome, assistance also of every kind that she may need and
may herself desire. The treatment accorded Russia by her sister nations in the
months to come will be the acid test of their good will, of their comprehension
of her needs as distinguished from their own interests, and of their intelligent
and unselfish sympathy.
VII. Belgium, the whole world will agree, must be evacuated and restored,
without any attempt to limit the sovereignty which she enjoys in common
with all other free nations. . . .
VIII. All French territory should be freed and the invaded portions restored,
and the wrong done to France by Prussia in 1871 in the matter of AlsaceLorraine, which has unsettled the peace of the world for nearly fifty years,
should be righted, in order that peace may once more be made secure in the
interest of all.
IX. A readjustment of the frontiers of Italy should be effected along clearly
recognizable lines of nationality.
Important Ideas & Summary
X. The peoples of Austria-Hungary, whose place among the nations we wish
to see safeguarded and assured, should be accorded the freest opportunity to
autonomous development.
XI. Rumania, Serbia, and Montenegro should be evacuated; occupied
territories restored; Serbia accorded free and secure access to the sea; and the
relations of the several Balkan states to one another determined by friendly
counsel along historically established lines of allegiance and nationality; and
international guarantees of the political and economic independence and
territorial integrity of the several Balkan states should be entered into.
XII. The Turkish portion of the present Ottoman Empire should be assured a
secure sovereignty, but the other nationalities which are now under Turkish
rule should be assured an undoubted security of life and an absolutely
unmolested opportunity of autonomous development, and the Dardanelles
should be permanently opened as a free passage to the ships and commerce of
all nations under international guarantees.
XIII. An independent Polish state should be erected which should include the
territories inhabited by indisputably Polish populations, which should be
assured a free and secure access to the sea, and whose political and economic
independence and territorial integrity should be guaranteed by international
Important Ideas & Summary
XIV. A general association of nations must be formed under specific
covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political
independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike.
In regard to these essential rectifications of wrong and assertions of right we
feel ourselves to be intimate partners of all the governments and peoples
associated together against the Imperialists. We cannot be separated in interest
or divided in purpose. We stand together until the end.
For such arrangements and covenants we are willing to fight and to continue
to fight until they are achieved; but only because we wish the right to prevail
and desire a just and stable peace such as can be secured only by removing the
chief provocations to war, which this program does remove. We have no
jealousy of German greatness, and there is nothing in this program that
impairs it. We grudge her no achievement or distinction of learning or of
pacific enterprise such as have made her record very bright and very enviable.
We do not wish to injure her or to block in any way her legitimate influence
or power. We do not wish to fight her either with arms or with hostile
arrangements of trade if she is willing to associate herself with us and the
other peace- loving nations of the world in covenants of justice and law and
fair dealing. We wish her only to accept a place of equality among the peoples
of the world, -- the new world in which we now live, -- instead of a place of
mastery. . . .
Important Ideas & Summary
We have spoken now, surely, in terms too concrete to admit of any further
doubt or question. An evident principle runs through the whole program I
have outlined. It is the principle of justice to all peoples and nationalities, and
their right to live on equal terms of liberty and safety with one another,
whether they be strong or weak.
Important Ideas & Summary
Unless this principle be made its foundation no part of the structure of
international justice can stand. The people of the United States could act upon
no other principle; and to the vindication of this principle they are ready to
devote their lives, their honor, and everything they possess. The moral climax
of this the culminating and final war for human liberty has come, and they are
ready to put their own strength, their own highest purpose, their own integrity
and devotion to the test.