What is War?
By: Sally Rusk and Sara P. Chavarria

Time: 1 lesson period
Prep Time: Make a copy of Overheads 1 and 2.
Make the two signs.
Materials: Overhead 1- Questions for homework assignment:
2 signs: One is a + (positive) sign and one is a – (negative) sign
Overhead 2 - List of questions to be pondered on overhead


The purpose of this lesson is to invite students to start thinking about how they feel about issues, their world, history, and to defend their positions. We want students to start asking themselves: “What is war?” and what does it mean to me.

Students will establish what war signifies to them and demonstrate this by voting on statements.

Standards (NCHS)
NCHS Era 9: The 20th century since 1945: Promises and Paradoxes.
Standard 3: Major global trends since World War II.
NCHS Historical Thinking Skills 2-D, 3-B, 3-F, 5-E

Teacher Background
The teacher must be familiar with three topic categories: Resource Use (addressed in the 1st quarter), what war is (Materials provided), and World Wars I and II (Use SOS Teacher Aide for additional information).

Resource Websites




Anticipatory Statement: What is war, what does it involve, and how does it happen?

a - Questionnaire assignment
Students must copy the following questions. Space must be left for two answers: one will be the student’s answer, the other will be from an interview of a family member at home.

 Overhead 1- Questions:
1. What is war? (Define)
2. What does war involve? What happens? What is used? (elements)
3. Do you think we could have a World War III?
4. What might cause another world war?

b - Vote with your feet activity
Put a + sign on one side of room and a – sign on the other side. Students arrange themselves as to how they feel about statements or issues presented by the teacher.

Ground rules: raise hands to share comments, answers, responses…

Once students are arranged ask ‘WHY’ they chose the side they did. Probe their decision.

Ask for a volunteer to serve as recorder of responses with comments.

Read the following ponder questions one at a time and generate discussions. When done put the list up on the class wall to remind students of differing views as they explore the subject of war.

Overhead 2 - Ponder Questions teacher can use:
- War is necessary.
- Men and women should have equal rights.
- Women should be in combat just like men.
- World peace is achievable.
- It is okay to use chemical or biological weapons during war.
- Having nuclear weapons helps to maintain the peace (deters aggression).
- War is so destructive we should avoid it at all costs.

Embedded Assessment

PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: November 10, 2009
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