Report from the Battlefield: the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in Context

Guiding Question:

What is the historical significance and role of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in World War I?


In this activity students will take the role of investigative reporters during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. Using several American Battle Monument Commission resources, they will gather facts about the battle and write a radio report that will place U.S. involvement within the context of World War I.


Historical Context

By the time the United States officially declared war on the Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary in April 1917, the Allies, comprised of Russia, France, and the United Kingdom, already had been in conflict for three years. World War I (WWI) was known as the “Great War” because of the enormous scale of the conflict. A total of 59 million troops took part in the war during which over 7 million men lost their lives and another 29 million sustained injuries.

With its entrance into the war in April 1917, the United States provided vital military and financial support for the Allies, taking part in nearly every major campaign on the Western Front. U.S. involvement in the war eventually culminated in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, one of the largest military offensives in U.S. history with 1.2 million U.S. troops involved. Shortly after the Allied victory during this offensive, Armistice was declared on November 11, 1918, leading to the end of WWI.


At the conclusion of this lesson, students will be able to

  • Identify the significance of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in WWI;
  • Contextualize the Meuse-Argonne Offensive within the broader scope of WWI.

Standards Connections

Connections to Common Core
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.7 Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.

Connections to C3 Framework
D2.His.1.6-8. Analyze connections among events and developments in broader historical contexts.
D2.His.11.6-8. Use other historical sources to infer a plausible maker, date, place of origin, and intended audience for historical sources where this information is not easily identified.
D2.His.15.6-8. Evaluate the relative influence of various causes of events and developments in the past.


Lesson Preparation


Activity One: Anticipatory Set (15 minutes)

  • Direct students to the American Battle Monument Commission’s (ABMC) WWI interactive timeline, The Great War: A Visual History . Note that the timeline can be viewed as either a map or a chart, but for this activity the map is preferable.
  • Provide students with time to explore the timeline for 10 minutes. Point out the dates along the bottom of the timeline, and ask them to click on one or two events in each year. They should note that the flags of the countries involved in an event appear at the bottom of the text.
  • Then lead class discussion with the following questions:
    • What did you see?
    • How does this timeline differ from other timelines that you have worked with before?
    • What do you expect to learn from this timeline based on your first impressions?

Activity Two: Fact collection and reporting (90 minutes)

  • Distribute a copy of the Reporter’s Notebook Handout to each student.
  • Have students move chronologically through the events and people of WWI included on The Great War: A Visual History from the Pre-war Period through 1918 while gathering information on each time period.
  • Ask students to click the year 1918 at the bottom of their timeline and find the event block titled, “Meuse-Argonne Campaign.” They should read the text provided and watch the short video.
  • Direct students to watch the video This Day in History, September 26, 1918: The Meuse-Argonne Campaign Begins .
  • Have students write their reports using the facts they have collected on the Reporter’s Notebook Handout.

Assessment Materials

  • Write a 200 word newspaper article or radio report including at least five facts about the U.S. participation in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive answering who, what, when, where, and why.
  • This assignment can be scored using the Battlefield Rubric.

Methods for Extension

  • Students could record their report and play it for the class.
  • Students can explore images, videos, and a panoramic view of the Meuse-Argonne Cemetery online at the ABMC website to see the aftermath of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive and how those who lost their lives are honored.


  • Students may be placed in mixed-ability groups to complete the assignment.


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Primary Sources

Secondary Sources