11th Grade New York

World War II

The goal of this inquiry is to help students understand the various factors that caused the United States to be on the winning side in World War II. The compelling question “Why was the US on the winning side of World War II?” engages students with both the economic and military factors that contributed to a successful war effort. Students start with an examination of the home front before looking at military factors in the wars in Europe and the Pacific. Students should be able to articulate a variety of factors that caused the Allied victory.


Compelling Question:

Why Was the U.S. on the Winning Side of World War II?

Staging the Question:

Watch a brief documentary on the dedication of the National World War II Memorial and discuss how the war affected veterans’ families.

Supporting Question Why was the home front so important to the war front?

Formative Task Participate in a silent conversation on big paper on the supporting question.

Sources Source A: “Wartown: War Production in America”
Source B: Image bank: Propaganda posters
Source C: “By the Numbers: Wartime Production”


Supporting Question What did the United States contribute to the Allies’ victory in Europe?

Formative Task Create a “found poem” using words and phrases from the featured sources.

Sources Source A: "Why Hitler's Grand Plan during the Second World War Collapsed”
Source B: “World War II Deaths by Countries”
Source C: “D-Day”


Supporting Question How did the United States win the war against Japan?

Formative Task Participate in a fishbowl conversation on the supporting question.

Sources Source A: Excerpt from Every War Must End
Source B: Images of World War II: The Pacific Islands
Source C: Transcript of President Truman announcing the bombing of Hiroshima, August 6, 1945

Summative Performance Task

Argument: Why was the US on the winning side of World War II? Construct an argument (e.g., detailed outline, poster, essay) that addresses the compelling question using specific claims and relevant evidence from historical sources while acknowledging competing views.
Extension: Investigate the impact of World War II on particular groups in the United States (e.g., women, African Americans, Mexican braceros).

Taking Informed Action

Understand: Research how World War II affected students’ communities.
Assess: Determine the most impactful ways in which students’ communities contributed to the war effort.
Act: Develop a World War II exhibit for display in the school or a local museum that captures the contributions of people from students’ communities.