2014 marks one hundred years since the advent of the First World War, and to mark this momentous landmark, the government has allocated more than £50 million to a programme to commemorate the event.
Schools play a key part in this initiative, inviting students to get involved in community remembrance projects, educational activities and trips to the battlefields in France, which saw so many British lives lost to the war.
Alongside offering schools the opportunity to visit the moving sites of Ypres and the Somme, WST have also put together the following list of useful resources for teachers looking to convey the lessons of WW1 to pupils.
The BBC’s collection of excellent resources should be the first point of call for any class learning about World War One. There are a whole host of different pieces of content to explore, from documentaries and radio programs, to downloadable performance pack guides for teachers looking to put on a performance set during this incomparable period of history. You can even follow the BBC’s dedicated @bbcww1 Twitter account for live updates on new content which is being released throughout the centenary period.
In particular, pupils will thoroughly engage with the BBC’s set of interactive guides on various aspects of war, such as this trench warfare investigation by Dan Snow, which combine timelines, infographics, original texts and audio to uncover the rich history of life on the battlefields.
The National Archives
The National Archives are paying tribute to the Great War this year through a programme exploring how World War One affected all those involved on a personal level. Throughout the year, 1.5 million pages worth of war diaries will be released, transformed into digital format for the first time, giving students the opportunity to read first-person accounts of life in the trenches before embarking on a Battlefields trip. Alongside these resources, the National Archives are also inviting people to share their own information on WW1, giving students a platform to record their own experiences following a trip.
The British Library
The British Library’s dedicated World War One sub-site is vital viewing for schools, with unparalleled access to original sources of evidence, such as photography and propaganda posters. This is reinforced through lesson packs and in-depth articles from esteemed historians on different aspects of the war, including the debate around its origins.
History on the net
For a head-start on setting pupils exercises to stretch their knowledge on the events of WW1, History on the Net has compiled a comprehensive list of worksheets which are available to download for use in class.
Oxford University WW1 poetry archive
Another great site for first-hand sources is Oxford University’s WW1 poetry archive, lending a unique insight into the tragedy of war from the perspective of the people who lived through it; a useful source of inspiration for historical creative writing exercises.
Serving as a good precursor to a trip away, Great War lists some of the web’s best WW1 online exhibitions, curated by historical societies and museums, such as a mini-site for acclaimed play War Horse.
Worth a look for younger pupils, Neo K12 provides quizzes, map labelling games and a handy presentation builder tool, including photo resources, which students can use to put together their own projects based on the War.
How is your class commemorating the World War One centenary this year? Get in touch with WST for guidance on taking pupils to witness the sites of WW1 for themselves on a battlefields trip.