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Does anybody have a good Battle of the Somme Lesson?

Discussion in 'History' started by spurs_gal, Feb 20, 2007.

  1. Looking for a Somme lesson for a middle to top set year 9.

    Alternatively any good ideas would be welcome.
  2. Looking for a Somme lesson for a middle to top set year 9.

    Alternatively any good ideas would be welcome.
  3. How much time do you have????

    If it was me (and if the class was pretty good behaviourally!) I would do this over two lessons:

    Lesson One: Make a map of the Somme battlefield and fashion 'counters' of some sort to take the place of each battalion etc.

    Lesson Two: Re-enact the First Day of the Somme on the prior made 'gameboard'. You walk pupils through the events and they move the 'counters'...

    Follow up at end of lesson two with an overview sheet along with questions for completion as homework.

    Should be fairly different for the kids...will definitely give them a different view of the first day of the battle as they move the troops around and see what happens.

    Nb- to find a decent map of the Somme battlefield go to John D Clare's website (cannot remember the name but it is linked from schoolhistory.co.uk) and root around there- I know there is a brilliant interactive map which you can use to help you out...

    Hope this helps

  4. Cheers that sounds different. I've got a about a week or so before the lesson but i was just thinking ahead.
  5. I get them to use sources (including the brilliant Channel 4 film) to create 2 bullet-point lists 'The battle was a disaster' & 'the battle was a victory' They then stage a debate. Always works v well & v little preparation for you. I can send you the written sources that I put together (I used them with year 10)

    Also show the Blackadder clip of him on the phone to Haig while he sweeps up soldiers...
  6. Ditto using Blackadder clip - but also try to get factual background on Haig and his options. Culminate in a homework assessment on whether Haig deserved his title 'Butcher of the Somme'
  7. Hi louscher, just saw your very kind offer of the written sources you used for the Battle of the Somme. If you wouldn't mind sharing them I'd love to have a look - my email is sophieharris@hotmail.com

    thanks very much!
  8. Remember to present them with the achievements as well as the costs. These were significant.

    1. The Germans called off the Verdun Offensive (the 'Mill on the Meuse') shortly after the Somme offensive started. The German Verdun offensive had been grinding down the already weakened French Army alarmingly; the need to divert the Germans from Verdun was in fact the main reason why the Somme Offensive had to take place, and had to continue even after the disastrous first day. In short, one could say the Somme offensive saved the Allies' war effort.

    2. Being realistic, the only way the war was likely to end was when the German Army had been ground down in an attritional struggle, much as happened in WW2. Unfortunately, grinding down the German Army inevitably meant heavy casulaties for the Allies too; again, much like the Russians experienced in WW2. The major advantage that the Allies in WWI had, however, was that the Germans (& Austrians) lacked the manpower resources of the Allies. This meant the massive German casualties (c.500,000) sustained at the Somme were *relatively* more significant than the Allies' casualties, even though the total number of Allied casulaties was probably higher. The German casulaties were also, man for man, more significant because the German soldiers who fought at the Somme were experienced fighting men, the last of the massive pre-war trained German Army. These men, when killed/invalided, were replaced by inexperienced recruits very similar to their British counterparets. By the end of the battle, the German Army had been reduced to what has been called a 'national militia', much like the British Army. In short, in two ways the Somme was a necessary if horrible building block in eventual Allied victory.

    3. In Feb 1917 the Germans withdrew to the Hindenburg Line, a straighter defensive line that could be held by fewer men. Bearing in mind the overall German intention had been to hold onto as much French territory as possible as bargaining counters in any compromise peace, this large-scale surrender of territory was a clear admission that the German Army had been very badly hurt indeed on the Somme.

    4. The Germans were well aware of the logic that an attritional war would doom them to defeat, because of their inferior manpower resources. They tried to escape this awful logic by means of strategic gambles like the Schlieffen Plan (1914), the concentration on the Russians (1915) and the Verdun offensive (1916). These gambles all failed. In 1917, as a result of the battering they received on the Somme, they gambled that unrestricted U-Boat warfare against Britain (now recognised as Germany's most dangerous enemy) would win the war for them away from the battlefield, where they could not outlast the British. This desperate gamble (another indication of how much the Somme had hurst Germany)also failed, as it brought the USA into the war.

    5. The Somme was Britain's first major offensive in WW1; most of the troops involved were inexperienced volunteers of the 'Kitchener Armies' that had been hurriedly raised in 1914-15, and HAig and the other generals were commanding far larger formations than they had been trained to do. The Somme was therefore an invaluable learning experience, not least in the proper employment of artillery (which, rather than the machine gun, was the major killer - it caused 75% of casualties in WW1). Indeed, it was the ineffective 1-week barrage that preceeded the British offensive that doomed its first day to disaster. Later offensives, in 1917 and 1918, saw the British using many more & much bigger guns, using better ammo (1/3 of the shells fired at the Somme didn't go off, and the shrapnel shells that were used didn't cut barbed wire or destroy dugouts). In these later offensives, the British also used their guns more effectively, esp. to neutralise German artillery and to provide effective 'creeping' barrages that 'walked' the British infantry into the German lines. The Somme also taught the British the effective use of tanks & aircraft. In all, on the Somme, Haig et al learned how not to do it. In 1917 & 1918, the British Army was by far the most effective force on the Western Front, and played the major role in defeating the German Army.
  9. Sorry to jump on the bandwagon and be cheeky louscher, but if you could send me a copy of the sources you use for your Somme lesson I would be v. grateful!
    My e-mail is mla602@bham.ac.uk
  10. Spurs_gal, at the risk of sounding rude, are you seriously asking for help with this topic? WW1 must be one of the most over-resourced subjects in the world! If you can't think of what to do with something as resources as this, lord knows what will happen when you come across a topic that is genuinely under-resourced! Ever heard of activehistory and schoolhistory? Take some initiative.
  11. Yes i was genuinely. I am a PGCE student that has never taught it before. I am teaching it to a class who can't sit still for a moment and although i have a lesson that i made up with my group in uni it would be too hard for them to do. I am sorry i thought this forum was all about help and advice.
  12. On a similar note - I walk the school field with the class as if it was the battlefield and tell the story. The students have a pack of pictures to help them visualize certains things.

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