Canadian History in the Twentieth Century

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Planning Notes

  • In preparing to discuss the causes of World War I, the teacher needs to be aware that some students may not be familiar with a number of key terms. The teacher should plan to explain terms such as terrorism, colony, alliance, ultimatum, and mobilization by using examples and analogies. For example, the class may be asked to brainstorm examples of terrorism in today’s world and to discuss those examples.

  • Prepare a blank map of Europe, 1914 for student use and an overhead map for teacher use.

  • In conjunction with the teacher-librarian develop a strategy to teach students about the use of the Internet for research purposes.

  • Preview World War I web sites to aid students in their guided research.

Prior Knowledge Required

The students need to know some background information about Canada’s history as a colony of Great Britain and the role of Britain in the political life of Canada. The students need this knowledge in order to understand the reasons why Canada entered World War I. The students have general knowledge of Canada’s participation in World War I from the Grade 8 curriculum.

Teaching/Learning Strategies

1. To fully understand Canada’s participation in World War I, students research the causes of World War I in Europe by using textbooks and other sources such as computer databases and the Internet.

2. Students are introduced to the concept of the difference between a remote cause and an immediate cause. The teacher may tell a story or anecdote from his/her personal life to illustrate the difference between a remote and immediate cause. The teacher illustrates the concepts on the board using a mind map. By the use of a mind web diagram, the students are also made aware of the multiplicity of causes related to the start of World War I.

3. The teacher distributes a blank map of Europe in 1914. On the map, students fill in the appropriate names of the countries involved in World War I. Then the students colour code the countries of the Triple Entente and the Triple Alliance. With teacher guidance, the students draw in the Western Front of World War I and label it.

4. Using the Socratic method and an overhead map of Europe in World War I, the teacher reviews the remote and immediate causes of World War I. The teacher may draw symbols and arrows on the overhead map to indicate troop movements and events. Students complete notes on the remote and immediate causes of World War I.

5. The teacher discusses with the class the importance of the historical connection between Britain and Canada. The class reviews prior knowledge of Canada as a colony of Britain. The class is made aware of the “people” connection between Canada and Britain: in 1914, many Canadians had relatives living in Great Britain. The class discusses the question whether or not Canada should have entered World War I.

6. As part of this discussion, students should examine the Just War theory. The teacher explains the doctrine of a “Just War” as presented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section 2309, and the class discusses the issue of whether or not World War I was a Just War. In the light of Gospel values, students reflect on what moral laws should be followed in time of warfare. The teacher may refer to Sections 2312-2314 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The class also debates the issue of which country (or countries) was most responsible for the start of World War I.

7. Students perform research in textbooks, library books, Internet, and encyclopedias on the technological innovations of World War I: the machine gun, the airplane, the tank, and poisoned gas. The students describe in written, pictorial, and oral fashion some of the technological innovations used in World War I.

8. The teacher prepares a worksheet which presents students with questions related to most of the material covered in Activity 3. A sample worksheet is found in Appendix 1.3.1.

Assessment/Evaluation Techniques

  • Formative teacher assessment using a roving conference technique to make certain that student notes on the causes of World War I are accurate and complete. The teacher may use a checklist or anecdotal notes to record observations.

  • Formative teacher assessment of students’ maps using criteria of neatness, accuracy, and completion

  • Formative teacher assessment using a roving conference technique to make certain that student notes on remote and immediate causes are accurate and complete. The teacher uses a checklist or anecdotal notes to record observations.

  • Informal teacher assessment of student understanding and application of Catholic values related to warfare by using probe questions during class discussion

  • Informal teacher assessment using probe questions to determine students’ understanding of technological innovations during World War I

  • Summative teacher evaluation of student answers on the worksheet


  • Pair students to assist with tasks such as Internet research.

  • Prepare an outline to assist students with note taking.


The Aerodrome: Aces and Aircraft of World War I.

Catechism of the Catholic Church [Section 2309]

The Dominion Institute

The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century.

Santor, Donald M. Canadians at War 1914-1918 Canadiana Scrapbook. Scarborough: Prentice Hall, 1978.

Textbooks and Atlases

World War I: Canada’s Role. Classroom Video. Burnaby, British Columbia.

Appendix 1.3.1

Student Worksheet for World War I

Student’s name:_________________________________

Please answer the questions in the spaces provided on this sheet.

1. Describe one of the remote causes of World War I:

2. Explain what is meant by a “terrorist”:

3. What action by a terrorist on June 28, 1914 can be described as an immediate cause of World War I? Explain.

4. What country was the main ally or supporter of Serbia in 1914?

5. What actions by Russia made Germany declare war on Russia in 1914?

6. Why did Germany declare war on France in 1914?

7. By what plan did Germany attack France? Describe the plan.

8. Why did Britain declare war on Germany in 1914?

9. Why did Canada enter World War I? Explain.

10. Name two European countries which were allies of Canada and Great Britain in World War I:

11. Explain what is meant by the “Western Front”:

12. In your opinion, what was the most important weapon in World War I? Give a reason for your choice.

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