For the past month, we have been learning about how World War 1 shaped Canada’s identity. We started off by brainstorming any questions we had about World War 1. We went around the room reading articles and looking at images about the war to spark questions. We then looked at some political comics about the war. This was interesting to me because I hadn’t thought much about how cartoons could show important information. We then were tasked with creating our own political cartoon to show why soldiers enlisted in the war. I made my cartoon to look like an old-fashioned War enlistment poster.
The next step was to learn about how the war started in the first place. To do this, we watched a few videos from a man named Indy Neidell. Since 2014, Indy has been documenting WWI week by week, 100 years later. This was quite fascinating to see exactly what led up to the war and why. The war started when Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary was assassinated, disrupting the peace between many European nations. I won’t go into much detail about it, but here is a link to the first video we watched, a brief summary of why the war started, so you can see for yourself.
The first big assignment we had to do for this unit was to read a book set in the WW1 time frame and then creatively create a report for it. We were given three options: Generals die in bed, Private Peaceful, or War Horse. I chose to read War Horse, a story about a horse who was bought by the army because I had heard good things about it before. It ended up being a fairly easy read, although it became confusing when I inevitably forgot that the entire book was from the perspective of a horse. For my presentation, I decided to create a short collection of collages that reflected on the book at different chapters. This was a fun project to do because it was very open and let us each do something different. Here is my book if you would like to look through it!
The next step in our unit was very exciting because to learn more about the war, we went on a trip to Ottawa! I have already written all about it here if you would like to check it out. Long story short, we were able to learn about this topic while exploring Canada’s capital city, which I thought was a pretty good deal.
The final stage of our unit was based on comics. We started off by reading an interactive comic book story about what life was like for soldiers on a website called Shattered Ground. This site was very interesting because it allowed us to fully explore what being at war was like for the individuals instead of as a whole. The next and last piece of our project was to create our own comic books about an assigned topic. My topic was Vimy Ridge, which lucky for me I already had an understanding of. I worked hard on my comic and was proud of the work I created. We then gave and receive peer critique on our projects. My critique was all about minor formatting errors, and I didn’t have any problems with my information or storyline! We then revised our work, and finally put it all into one big comic book. Here are some pictures of my final book!
The last step was to share our project with an audience. The audience, in this case, was a large group of 6th and 7th graders at a nearby elementary school. This was an interesting experience because most of these kids didn’t know much about WW1 and they were fascinated by our comics. Here is a picture of me with some of the students! We were able to teach these kids a lot about the history of war, and we were able to receive even more critique on what we could improve next time. This project was a very fun one, because we were learning in a very hand-on way. Hopefully our next unit will be as compelling as this one.