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Creating Research Questions through Primary Source Documents

Lesson Plan Item

General Information
Grade 11th Grade, 12th Grade Class U.S. History Length of Lesson 1 Day
Lesson Title Creating Research Questions through Primary Source Documents
Unit Title Iowa Involvement in World War I
Unit Compelling Question How did Iowa impact the United States during World War I?
Historical Context:

2018.043.001   This photograph shows a group of soldiers stationed at Camp Dodge near Johnston, Iowa, participating in morning exercise.

2018.043.004  Camp Dodge, Johnston, Iowa.

2018.043.005  Rifle training at Camp Dodge, Johnston, Iowa.


Camp Dodge was established in 1909 under Major General Grenville M. Dodge from Council Bluffs, Iowa who had served as Iowa's strongest commander during the Civil War. On June 15, 1917, the camp was chosen by the US Army Selection Board as one of 16 regional training camps for the U.S. Army. The camp began to train soldiers from Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. From July to November 1917, 30 barracks (each held 150 men) were constructed including a mess hall, assembly hall, post office, two headquarters buildings, an auditorium, a hospital, three fire station, libraries and eight YWCA halls.

After the United States entered World War I in 1917, Camp Dodge played a significant role in the expansion of the United States military. Between September 5, 1917 and December 15, 1918, 111,462 recruits, including 37,111 Iowans, trained for service at Camp Dodge. The camp contained 1,409 buildings, twenty miles of streets, 8,000 horses and mules, a power plant, a hospital, and a peak garrison of 46,491 soldiers in July 1918. After the war ended, Camp Dodge became a demobilization center, and over 208,000 soldiers were discharged at the camp.

After the war, Camp Dodge only housed Iowa National Guard soldiers. In 1921, the majority of the camp was sold to the Northwest Lumber and Wrecking Company in Minneapolis. The company bought 1,200 buildings for $251,000 and seven miles of the camp was demolished. Since the war, the Camp has served as the Iowa National Guard headquarters and in the 1990s, the addition of the United States Army's National Maintenance Training Center was built to continue the training of state soldiers.

~ Matthew Miller, Teaching Iowa History Team
Lesson Supporting Question How can we use primary sources to create research questions about World War I?
Lesson Overview

Prior to this lesson, students will have learned about Iowa's involvement in World War I and the role that Camp Dodge played as a training camp for the war. This lesson will fall at the tail end of the unit and will begin a project for students to research and examine a personal question they have about Iowa's involvement in the war. Students will be learning how to ask deeper level thinking questions based on pictures and will use that knowledge to write their own research questions which would be used for a research paper.

Primary Sources Used
Resources Needed
Lesson Target
  • Students will identify the difference between compelling and supporting questions.
  • Students will write their own compelling and supporting questions on a topic of their choice.
Lesson Themes No themes are assigned for this lesson.
Lesson Procedure
Step Procedure Time Differentiation plan / Additional Information

Students will do a think-pair-share about the question: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Have them think and talk with a partner for about 2 minutes then share out with the whole class.

Ask students to think about if there is one right or wrong answer to this question and to justify their explanation.

  PowerPoint - Slide 2

Introduce compelling and supporting questions and give examples of each on the PowerPoint.

Check student understanding by using slide 5 and having them decide if each of the questions on the slide are compelling or supporting questions. This can be done with a partner discussion.

  PowerPoint - Slides 3-5

Model: Use the picture on slide 6 to model how to ask questions from a picture. Some possible questions to model for students:

-What side are these men fighting for?

-How did military medical aid work during the war?

-What will happen to these men after they get treated?

-What events led to this moment?

-What support systems were in place for men who were injured in the war?

Pass out the worksheets to students.

Show the students the 3 pictures from Camp Dodge training camp and have them follow the worksheet to have the practice asking compelling and supporting questions.

  PowerPoint - Slides 6-7

Introduce the research project that students will be completing. Show them the rubric and explain it.

Have them brainstorm some possible research questions they have about Iowan involvement in World War I and write those on the back of their worksheet to turn in.

Formative Assessment
(How will you use the formative assessments to monitor and inform instruction?)
  • Students will turn in their worksheet that they completed during the activity with the photos. I will also have them write 1-3 possible questions for their research paper on the back of the worksheet.
  • This will help me assess whether they were understanding how to use the pictures to ask deeper questions and will also give me an idea of what the students are interested in researching further. This will be an ungraded formative assessment to see how students were understanding the lesson.
Summative Assessment
(How does the lesson connect to planned summative assessment(s)?)
  • See rubric for how research papers will be assessed.
Author Information
Author Abby Ollendieck Reviewer Chad Christopher, History Education, University of Northern Iowa Created 06/13/2019 Last Edited 08/22/2019
Lesson Plan Development Notes:

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