Education program to teach students about the Great War
Documents relating to the composition and passage of the 1944 GI Bill reside at Legion National Headquarters in Indianapolis. These are examples of primary sources, which the Gilder Lehrman program hopes to help educators use more of in teaching World War I. (The American Legion Magazine/Jeff Stoffer)

Education program to teach students about the Great War

The relationship between The American Legion and the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission continues with the inception of a professional education program that will hit six cities across the country by the end of the current academic year.

“Teaching Literacy Through History” will be presented by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the nation’s leading American history organization dedicated to K-12 education. The intent of the program is to help educators better teach the Great War to their students, especially by using primary sources – direct or firsthand pieces or accounts, such as letters, diaries, printed books, newspapers, photographs and more – to bring the era to life, rather than relying strictly on secondary sources like textbooks or other articles written after the fact. Literacy skills and tools for using these primary sources will be provided; the educators will leave with lesson plans and other resources, and the hope is that this new focus will benefit student understanding and performance.

The program is funded by a $50,000 grant from the Legion and sponsored by the commission, which will provide curriculum content, communication resources and more. Seminars will be held in six cities by the end of the 2017-2018 school year: Louisville, Ky.; Anchorage, Alaska; Albuquerque, N.M.; San Diego; Detroit; and Providence, R.I. Attending educators will hear lectures and discussion meant to deepen their own knowledge of the war by leading historians like Michael Neiberg, chair of war studies and professor of history at the U.S. Army War College, and Christopher Capozzola, associate professor of history at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“Teaching Literacy Through History” is meant to come at World War I from a variety of angles – its causes, conduct, human aspects, results, and ultimate consequences and lessons. Jack Monahan, The American Legion’s representative on the centennial commission, lauded the program as an example of both organizations’ “mutual efforts to increase public awareness of World War I.”

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