Correspondence During the First World War


Teacher Candidates:      Allison and Lauren Knight, Laura Grant,

Samantha Murphy, Sarah McGuire

Grade/Class:  Grade 10 English                  

Date:  November 18, 2014

Duration:  75 minutes

Lesson Topic:  Correspondence During the First World War


By the end of the lesson students should/will be able to:

  1. write for different purposes and audiences using a variety of literary, graphic, and informational forms (2.1)
  2. establish a distinctive voice in their writing, modifying language and tone skillfully and to suit the form, audience, and purpose for writing (2.2)
  3. use appropriate descriptive and evocative words, phrases, and expressions to make their writing clear, vivid, and interesting for their intended audience (2.3)
  4. build vocabulary for writing by confirming word meaning(s) and reviewing and refining word choice, using a variety of resources and strategies, as appropriate for the purpose (3.2)


Guided imagery description

Graphic organizer handout

Multiliteracies First World War tool



Ask the students to close their eyes.  Recite to them the guided imagery description attached to the lesson plan.  Give them 2 minutes to think about the text.  During this time, write the following questions on the board and then engage them in brief class discussion:

  1. How would you feel if you were in this soldier’s position in real life?
  2. If you were in this position, what would compel you to go over-the-top?

Spend no more than 5 minutes eliciting responses before moving to the next exercise.


Distribute the graphic organizer handout and give the students 3 minutes to organize the vocabulary words under the appropriate headings.  Afterwards, take up the exercise as a class and explain any terminology with which the students are not familiar.

Show the students the multiliteracies First World War video.

Ask the students to point out some of the things they found interesting in what was presented.  If these issues are not voiced by students during the discussion, be sure to address the ideas of “total war effort” and “doing one’s bit” from both fronts (i.e. in the trenches and on the home front).

Ask the students to partner off.  Each pair will be responsible for creating two “primary documents”:  a letter from the home front and a letter written from the trenches.  They are also to come up with a scenario as to how these primary documents were found (e.g. granddaughter of a First World War soldier found these letters in the attic of her parents’ home) and whom they were sent between (e.g. mother to son, soldier to fiancée).  The second letter should make references to the first letter.  Each letter should be no longer than one page or 300 words.  The students should also include vocabulary from the graphic organizer, from the multiliteracies tool, and from their own prior knowledge.  Tell the students they have 25-30 minutes to complete these two letters.


Ask for volunteers to present their letters and scenarios to the class.  Use the remainder of class for these presentations.  If students are reluctant to volunteer, call on partners to present.


Instructions for the guided imagery questions will be read aloud and written on the board to satisfy both auditory and visual learners.  The multiliteracies video includes a combination of visuals, text, and voices to accommodate different learning styles.


While the students are working on their letters, circulate the class and answer questions if they arise.  When the students present, comment on what works and what is authentic in the students’ letters.  Invite constructive feedback from the class.


Look at war poetry by poets such as Rupert Brooke, Siegfried Sassoon, and Wilfred Owen.  Determine whether they reflect an anti-war or a patriotic stance towards the war, and why this may be.





HOME FRONT                                      TRENCHES

Fill the vocabulary words below into the appropriate column.

Do one’s bit             Soldiers                     Enlistment                          

Over-the-top           Whizzbangs              Shell shock

Rationing                  Civilians                    Victory Bonds         

Victory Gardens     Red Cross                  Huns                         

Knitting Bees           Care Package           Artillery                   

Trench foot              Convalescent Hospital

First World War Guided Imagery Exercise:

Close your eyes.  Imagine you are in the muddy trenches in France during the First World War.

You and your comrades are exhausted from no sleep and yet you are buzzing with alertness.  The

air is still, making the hair on the back of your neck stand up since you know the enemy is just

waiting to attack.  In fact, they are mere metres from you hunkered down in their own trenches.

Suddenly you hear explosions overhead and you duck for cover.  Chunks of mud fly into the

trenches and shells wail as they sail through the air.  You grip your rifle tighter and wait for the

command.  Finally it comes.  It’s time to go over-the-top.


Samantha Murphy, Laura Grant, Allison Knight, Lauren Knight, Sarah McGuire

November 25th, 2014

Dr. Holloway


Multi-Literacies Praxis Paper

The primary goal of content area reading is to encourage students how to think, learn, and communicate with a variety of texts to understand content using different reading strategies (Vacca 2). For our multi-literacy project, we connected theory to practice by presenting World War One letters in a variety of ways to accommodate differentiated learning. We also designed a lesson plan that scaffolds instruction, while touching on activating prior knowledge and interest and developing vocabulary and concepts.

Our content area is English. Consequently, our multi-literacy project focuses on reading, writing, and interpretation. If we were doing a unit on World War One literature, we would include our project because it uses the language and style that people used in the early twentieth century. Our project is visual, with the letters and pictures being presented on screen for visual learners. It is also auditory, as there is music and the letters are read aloud. Furthermore, we included a “hands-on” component by having students write a letter themselves, after doing a guided imagery activity. The guided imagery and the letters presented in our multi-literacy project scaffolds instruction because it provides examples for students to model their letters.

By having students imagine they are either at the home front or the war front, we are tapping into building interest, as we are encouraging students to build an experience base, stretch concepts, and to explore history and other lands (185). When we teach our lesson, we encourage students to write down any words or concepts they are not familiar with, and ask them to research their meaning; consequently, students are building their vocabulary. This is also a form of scaffolding as students learn in steps, finding the meaning of words and concepts before they are asked to write their own letter. Throughout the lesson, they learn about the concept of gender roles and responsibilities during World War One, which includes a social justice aspect as students learn about women’s important contributions to the war. They will also learn about how the concept of the “war front” and “home front” worked together to ensure victory for the Allies, thereby demonstrating that concepts are linked through relationships (243). Students will then be able to write their own World War One letters using proper vocabulary while adopting the role of either a soldier in the trenches or a person at the home front.

By linking theory to practice, our lesson and multi-literacy project allows for differentiated learning, scaffolding, activating interest, and developing vocabulary and concepts. This way, all students, regardless of learning style and skill are able to comprehend the material. Furthermore, by having students read closely to identify vocabulary and then write their own letter, they are becoming more literate in our content area – English. Content area literacy provides effective strategies to ensure all students gain the confidence and skills to become life-long learners.

Works Cited

Vacca, Richard T, Jo Anne L Vacca, and Maryann Mraz. Content Area Reading: Literacy and    

     Learning Across the Curriculum. 11th ed. Boston: Pearson, 2014. Print.