World War II (Olesen)

Teacher:Elizabeth Olesen
Extra Help:Thursdays 3 - 4 PM in room 205, or by appointment

Ms. Olesen is teaching one section of WWII in the spring semester.

Course Essential Questions:

  • How is identity formed? Why do we form groups?

  • How does a genocide happen?

    • What is the role of group membership and individual identity in genocide?

    • What is the roles of bystanders in human atrocities?

  • How and why does a nation decide to go to war?  

  • What choices do nations face in war?  

  • How does war influence people’s daily lives and the decisions they make?

  • How did World War II change people’s lives and shape the world?

Course Summary:

World War II was the deadliest conflict that the world has ever seen.  The war lasted from 1939-1945, with fighting on three continents.  The Allies and the Axis engaged in total war, involving more than 100 million people in more than 50 countries.  The war inspired innovations in military strategy, weapons, and technology, but resulted in millions of casualties.  Civilians were involved in the war in an unprecedented way: families survived on small rations, young people bought war bonds, women manufactured war planes.  Urban centers were bombed by both sides, inflicting casualties on civilians.  In addition, approximately six million Jewish people lost their lives through the systematic, state-sponsored program of extermination known as the Holocaust.  By the end of the war, millions of people had lost their lives, the map of Europe looked completely different, and the balance of power in the world had shifted.

While the course will primarily focus on the Holocaust and the United States’ involvement in the war, we will study the war as a whole and how it affected the entire world and people around the globe.  We will do this by looking at many different perspectives.  A large focus of the course will be studying the war through the eyes of those who were involved: soldiers, military leaders, and civilians back at home.  We will explore this era through a multitude of readings, documentaries, and regular analysis of both primary and secondary sources.  Primary sources to be examined will include letters, speeches, photographs, video footage, propaganda posters, and interviews.  In addition, we will study the Holocaust and the experience of men and women on the homefront.  This course will allow us to have a deep understanding of the war, its effects on people, and the many changes it sparked.

Units of Study and Major Assessments*:


Proposed Major Assessments and Projects

1: Holocaust and Human Behavior

Memorial Project

Mini-unit: The Lead up to the War - Brief analytical writing work

2: The Domestic Front

Social Groups Project

3: WWII Battles

WWII Scrapbooks, Debate on the Atomic Bomb


Course Documents

E Olesen,
Jan 27, 2016, 9:59 AM
E Olesen,
Feb 12, 2016, 5:28 AM