Developing phase


We know we have to write an article about a topic of WW1 providing arguments to justify it by using appropriate sources. That’s what we are going to learn more about.

As we will have to work on WW1, we have to know what sources we can use. Anyway, in this special sequence, as the timing is so short, you will not look for information yourself will give you the sources you need.

Remember that the ‘Great War’ as it was also called, was the first war that used various media to influence public opinion (these media were new at that time), and the different war governments created their own ‘War Propaganda Bureau’ in order to make their work more efficient.

Facebook Photographs
Telephone Radio
Mobile phone cameras Spoken interviews (on tape)
Newspaper articles Television
Film (moving pictures) Diaries
Posters Poetry
Internet forums Artists (painters)
Fax Editorial Cartoons

1.  In order to make your information search more efficient, cross out the media that you think were NOT used to report on WW1 (1914-1918) based on your knowledge of the characteristics of this period.

2. When you have decided on the correct list and crossed out the incorrect ones, decide in pairs on the three media that have provided the main sources for us now, about WW1.

3. Which three media sources do we still have now, that were actually used during WW1?



Look at these two posters.  They were both used during WW1.

1. Work in pairs. What is the intention of each poster? Look at them carefully and write a sentence for each one. You can use these sentence-starters to help you:

-‘We think that the intention of this poster was to………. because………………..”

-“The person who designed this poster wanted to……………because…………….…”



2. Sit with another pair and compare answers.  If they are different try to argue which are the best.

3. Now, have a look at this photograph below. As a source from WW1, what would the intention of this photograph be? Justify your answer.

…The intention of the photograph would be to …

4. Which is closer to the reality? Which gives the most reliable information?  The scenes from the posters or from the photograph?  Choose one and justify your answer.



Look at the following sources from WW1 and then do the activities that follow:



British war correspondents in Belgium have seen little murdered children with roasted feet. The tiny children were hung over a fire before they were killed. This was done by German troops – men with children of their own at home, or with little brothers and sisters of the same age as the innocents they torture before killing them.

The War Illustrated 1914


Frande, 24 March, 1917

My dearest Emily
Just a few lines dear to tell you I am still in the land of the living and keeping well, trusting you are the same dear, I have just received your letter dear and was very pleased to get it. It came rather more punctual this time for it only took five days. We are not in the same place dear, in fact we don’t stay in the same place very long… we are having very nice weather at present dear and I hope it continues… Fondest love and kisses from your
loving Sweetheart
Will xxxxxxxxxxx









1. Which sources would you choose for which purposes? Write the numbers in the correct column.

Propaganda against the enemy  

To show that war is a patriotic act. To encourage people to go to war To show that war is terrible To suggest that war is not so bad

2. Join with another student and compare the answers. If there are any differences try to explain to each other your reasons for them.



Refute these false explanations of some of the previous sources.


False: ‘Source 8 was used to show that the German army was kind and gentle ’. 

Refute:  ‘No it wasn’t.  It was  surely used as propaganda against the German army’.  Source 7 was used to show that the weather was bad in WW1.

    1. Source 6 was used to show that German women were cruel to their children.
    2. Source 2 shows us that the soldiers were allowed to write very specific details and realities of the war to their families back home.
    3. Source 9 shows us that the French Basques didn’t care about the war at the beginning.



We have been working on the intentionality of the sources but in order to know what really happened we need to also analyse the reliability of the sources.

1. Put the sources from Activity 12 into categories of reliability.  Classify them into three groups:

Reliability of the sources ( number)
Not sure.   Could be either.

2. Take one source from each of the three groups above.  Explain in a maximum of two sentences (for each) why you have put them into their categories.  Use these structures if you prefer:

“I put source number _ in the reliable category because I think……

“Source _____ is not reliable because it is………

“Source _____ does not tell me ………

“I cannot trust the person who produced this source because…….



How can we judge sources?  Here below there is useful information for it.

  • Person(s) behind source
    Qualifications – is he/she an expert in the field?
    Values – what does the author think about the topic?  What is the author’s situation?  Who was the information intended for?

  • Consistency of Information
    Confirmation or corroboration – can anyone else make the same claims? Fairness and balance – is he/she one-sided in his point-of-view?
  • Witness or researcher -was the author/speaker/director a first-hand witness to the information or did he gather it from some other source?
  • Equipment- what kind of equipment was used to record the information?
  • Publication
    When?  Is the information current, or very old?  Is this a problem?
    Reputation of the publication – is the source well-known and reputable?
    Kind of publication – is it a scientific report,   eye-witness account, a work of fiction?

1. The three categories of ‘How to judge reliability’ below are out of order. Each one ha two elements together, either DD, AA or BB. Which is which? Read the categories below and fill in the table with DD, AA and BB

Date & Detail
Author & Audience
Bias & Backup

Persons behind source Consistency Publication



Watch the three clips below.

1. Watch the clip and write some notes about their intentions and their reliability. Also, write why you think these, because your teacher will ask you for the reasons. You can use the models in the box to start with.

  • The intention of this video clip is to……………………………………………..
  • I think this source is reliable / unreliable because……………………….

2. Watch the next two clips and write down notes as in the previous one. Then sit in groups of four and compare your answers.

  • The intention of this video clip is to……………………………………………..
  • I think this source is reliable / unreliable because……………………….
  • The intention of this video clip is to……………………………………………..
  • I think this source is reliable / unreliable because……………………….



You have already seen that sources have different intentions and the reliability of all of them is not the same. But once you have a viewpoint about a topic, it cannot be based only on ‘feelings’ or others’ opinions, you need good arguments to justify a viewpoint. In history we usually use sources to justify our opinions or interpretation of a topic, so it’s very important to choose them carefully.

In this exercise we will work on the validity of sources to justify our viewpoint. So,match the viewpoints with the arguments that you think are valid to justify them in the table below.


1.        Germany was the beginner/culprit in the First World War.

2.        The deserters of the First World War should not be forgiven.

3.        During the First World War, too many Northern Basque young men were killed.


a) Looking at the monuments for ‘The Dead in WW1’ in every town of the Northern Basque Country, you realised that the amount of young men who died in the Great War was very significant.

b)  Germany started mobilizing troops through Belgium, and then onwards towards Paris, so the other countries had to enter in the war in order to stop them.

c) The German deserters discouraged other soldiers from fighting, and this caused problems for the fighting efficiency of the entire army.

d) The huge need for soldiers did not respect people’s beliefs or their moral options to reject fighting, so during the war many thousands of soldiers deserted from different armies.

e) The multinational alliances formed the previous years were waiting for a spark to start the war.




We have to write an opinion text in the WW1 blog of the Lycee.  Although you have learned this in Basque, Spanish and English, we will have a look at this type of text, in order to remember how to write it.

An opinion text usually takes a position in relation to a statement, giving the writer’s viewpoint about it. The writer (you)  has to decide if he/she thinks the statement is true or not by looking at the sources and using his/her knowledge,. Then, it is necessary to write some arguments to prove you position.  Remember that in Social Science, these arguments have to be based on sources.

This one below is an opinion text that was uploaded last year to the WW1 blog , where later you will have to write yours.

France, the main victim of the First World War

We do not think that France was the country that suffered the most during WW1.

In Germany and Russia more people died (especially men) than in France, so the population pyramid suffered from this effect for a long time after.

Also, as Germany and UK mobilised more people than France, their countries’ economies collapsed or diminished seriously during the war due to the amount of men (workers) fighting in the war.

France was one of the battlegrounds of the war, but the war also took place on the Eastern Front – in Russia, Poland and in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Treaty of Versailles (1918) obliged Germany to give their richest territories to France, and that ruined the German economy for a long time afterwards.

So, as the evidence says clearly, we cannot say that France was the country that most suffered in the First World War, because most of the fighting countries experienced high demographic and economic loses during the war.

1. Read the text, “France, the main victim of the First World War, then look at the sources on the following pages. Which sources have been used to support the arguments in the text? Which would have not been used, and why?

Quote the lines from the text and then say which source the author has or has not use. For example:

a)    Quote: ‘In Germany and Russia more people died….’

For this the author has used  Source ____ as support for the argument, because it shows us that _________________________




Soldiers mobilized during WWW1  (in millions)




Treaty of Versailles

Article 45

As part payment towards the total reparation due from Germany for the damage resulting from the war, Germany cedes to France in full and absolute possession, with exclusive rights of exploitation, unencumbered and free from all debts and charges of any kind, the coal-mines situated in the Saar Basin

Article 118

In territory outside her European frontiers Germany renounces all rights, titles and privileges whatever in or over territory which belonged to her or to her allies, and all rights, titles and privileges whatever their origin which she held as against the Allied and Associated Powers.

Article 119

Germany renounces in favour of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers all her rights and titles over her oversea possessions.



France’s oldest WWI veteran dies

One of the last two surviving French veterans of World War I has died at the age of 110.

Louis de Cazenave, who fought in the Battle of the Somme in 1916, died in his sleep at his home in Brioude, central France, his son Louis said..  Mr de Cazenave’s death leaves Lazare Ponticelli, also 110, as the last “poilu”, or French WWI veteran.

BBC News / Sunday, 20 January 2008.

2.This below, is the most common structure of these kind of texts. Have a look at it and do the following activity.

The structure of this type of text usually has three parts:

1. Introduction. Presents the topic and the point of view of the author (thesis). It is usually short, in an definitive way.

2. Arguments. The writer gives arguments to defend his/her viewpoint concerning the topic.  The arguments will be based on sources and ordered depending on their importance. Good, reliable sources reinforce the importance of the arguments.

3. Conclusion. >Short paragraph that summarises and concludes the arguments. Expresses a viewpoint on something based on the development of arguments.

Go to the previous text (‘France, the main victim of….’) and analyse it based on itsstructure:

a)  Can you identify the three different parts?

b) Is the topic presented in the introduction? And the viewpoint of the author?

c) Are there arguments to defend the thesis?  Are they based on sources?

d) Is there any conclusion written after the arguments?

3. From which parts of an argumentative text would you expect to find the following words and phrases?

a) In my opinion,

b) so, from the sources is it clear that….

c) As we have seen from all the source

d) More German soldiers died than French.

e) My basic argument is this: that in WW1….

From ‘Introduction’  __________

From  ‘Arguments’  __________

From ‘Conclusion’  ___________



As you have seen, arguments are necessary to justify our view of (the) history, so now, we will work on that, trying to find good arguments to defend our idea in front of our classmates.

‘It was better not to tell the truth (back home) about the conditions for soldiers in the First World War’

We will debate this statement in small groups. The objective is to find arguments for or against the refutation and arrive at a conclusion. . This debate will have three parts:

1. The teacher will divide the class into four parts, each with a specific role.

  • The Minister of Defence.
  • The head of the War Propaganda Bureau.
  • A pacifist who wants to end the war as soon as possible.
  • A mother who is suffering the consequences of the war.

Each group has a statement on a piece of paper and will have to find some argumentsto defend its point of view. There are some sources to help you write the arguments.

2. Then the groups will be reorganised. The new groups (of 4) will be composed of students of different roles. Their objective is to discuss again and try to arrive at a conclusion.

3. Whole group discussion.  A representative of each group will explain  their group’s conclusions to the others.


  • ‘We, the people of Sara, know that many people are dying, and we are a small village.  We cannot afford to send our men’
  • ‘After the first battles, where thousand of soldiers died, the citizens would become discouraged and the army morale would have suffered’
  • ‘If the British and German governments had not hidden the truth, the war would have been much shorter’.
  • ‘If people knew what the conditions were really like then they wouldn’t have signed up as soldiers’.


a) “In November 1917 a widow asked Croydon Military Tribunal to let her keep her eleventh son, to look after her. The other ten were all serving in the British armed forces. A man from Barking asked for his ninth son to be exempted as his eight other sons were already in the British Army. The man’s son was given three months exemption.. ”.  (View source)

b) “People must never be allowed to become despondent; so victories must be exaggerated and defeats, if not concealed, at any rate minimized, and the stimulus of indignation, horror and hatred must be assiduously and continuously pumped into the public minds of ‘propaganda’ “. (Arthur Ponsonby , British anti-war politician -taken from the book : Falsehood in Wartime “When war is declared, truth is the first casualty.” )

c) “I am not allowed to put dead men into my pictures because apparently they don’t exist” Paul Nash, British artist sent by the British War Propaganda Bureau’ to the front war to paint pictures of the home front, 1916

d) Number of British recruits

  • August 1914 – 156.000
  • Sep 1914 – 462.500
  • Oct. 1914 135.000
  • Feb. 1915  8.300
  • Sep 1915  7.000
  • Jan. 1916  6.000



1. During the last activities, we have been working on intentionality and reliability of the sources, but do you realise why those points are so important in order to use sources? Complete the list with at least three new good reasons.

  • Most of the sources have an intention.
  • The reliability of a source helps us to decide if we can believe its content.

2.  Having read the blog, you have decided that your colleague’s text has some very weak reasons. What could you say him to do in order to improve his arguments?



Now, it’s time to start working in order to win your trip to Bordeaux! As you know, you have to write an opinion text using your viewpoint of the topic of this year: ‘Real life during wartime’. You will have to choose one of the subtopics or think of a new one, and find the argument to justify your opinion.

1.Start the activity analysing the sources

The teacher will divide the class in two, and each half will have to analyse six different sources, applying what you have learnt about intentionality and reliability.

In pairs, analyse them carefully and write an explanation of your sources. The first one is done as a model for you.

Source nº 1

Source nº Source explanation Useful for Reliable
1 This picture reflects the life of the soldiers in the trenches in WW1 Describing the reality of war YES

*Join up with another pair that has used the same sources as you and correct/complete the table if needed.

*Go to a pair that has the other sources and complete the table.

2. Prepare the viewpoint and the arguments

In pairs choose two of the statements below about WW1. Decide which your viewpoint is and choose which sources (at least 3) you would use to argue that viewpoint.


a)      The Northern Basque Country was against fighting in support of France in WW1.

b)      Women suffered directly in WW1.

c)      Most men wanted to fight in WW1.

d)     The war on the front (in the trenches) was very uncomfortable.

e)      …

Statement Viewpoint Arguments 


Justifications of the arguments Chosen sources 


3. Writing and checking the draft

– Individually prepare the draft of the writing where you will express your viewpoint and the argument (at least two) to justify it, based on the text structure you have learnt.

-Give the draft to another student that has the same topic. Correct it, using this checklist.

Checklist Very Good OK Not enough NOTES
1. Are the chosen arguments valid to justify the viewpoint?
2. Has she/he taken account of the intentionality of the author of the sources?
3. Has she/he taken account of the reliability of the sources?

4.  Write the definitive version of your opinion text and upload it onto the blog.

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