The Great War Debate

Using the content in the section titled “How Should America Fight the Great War in the Meuse-Argonne?”, guide students through a Structured Academic Controversy debate. In this debate format, partners will gather and record evidence to support their assigned side, present their arguments to another partner group who are assigned the opposing viewpoint, and then come together in an unbiased, neutral way to form the group’s best answer to the debate question. The debate question is: Was General Pershing’s embrace of open warfare tactics what World War I needed to break the stalemate, or did Pershing’s strategy lead to more U.S. casualties than there needed to be?

Guiding Questions

  • What is open warfare?
  • What is trench warfare?
  • Was General Pershing’s embrace of open warfare tactics what World War I needed to break the stalemate, or did Pershing’s strategy lead to more U.S. casualties than there needed to be?

Learning Outcomes

The student will be able to:

  • Build an argument by analyzing pieces of historical evidence.
  • Present convincing talking points to a group.
  • Explain how the U.S. military strategy in World War I impacted the overall outcome.

Activities

  • Introduce the debate question using the slideshow. Define the terms “open warfare” and “stalemate.” Introduce background on General Pershing and the U.S. casualty count. (3 minutes)
  • Instruct students to access the section of this chapter titled “How Should America Fight the Great War in the Meuse- Argonne?” and fill out the Reading Guide independently. (10 minutes) After 10 minutes, review answers using the Reading Guide Answer Key.
  • Place students into groups of 4. Within each foursome, assign an “A” partner group and a “B” partner group.
  • Read through the “Debate Question” sheet together as a whole class. This tells students what side they will argue for and against, and it will let them know how the debate will go.
  • Instruct students to use the section of this chapter titled “How Should America Fight the Great War in the Meuse-Argonne?” to fill out the debate organizer for only the side they will be arguing for. (10 minutes)
  • The debate starts.
  • Side A presents their position using supporting evidence from their handouts, while Side B listens and fills out the other half of the “Debate Organizer” sheet. (3 minutes)
  • Side B restates Side A’s position to Side A’s satisfaction. In other words, Side B says, “What I hear you saying is _______.” (1.5 min.)
  • Side B presents their position using supporting evidence from their handouts, while Side A listens and fills out the other half of the “Debate Organizer” sheet. (3 minutes)

Assessment

Assess students based on their debate organizer and consensus statement.

Teacher Planning

Time Required

60 minutes

Materials Needed

Great War Debate Resources

Great War Debate Slideshow