A Separate Peace: A Teenager Experiences World War II

by Sally Hursey

Introduction · Question · Background Info · Individual Roles · Group Process
 Conclusion · Teacher's Guide  Mr. Wozny’s Rubric   


You are a teenager living in the United States during World War II. You read the newspapers and hear the radio broadcasts, but it is hard to make sense of this war that involves so many countries and people. This webquest will take you back to the Home Front of the 1940's to learn what it was like to grow up during this turbulent time.

As a group you're going to explore the topic of A Separate Peace. Each member of your team will become an expert on one part of the topic. Then you'll have to come back together to answer a question that gets to the heart of 'what's the truth and who says so?' We want you to do a good job, so why not read the evaluation rubric for this WebQuest?


The Question

The main question you will be asked to find an answer for is:

What would it have been like to have been a teenager during World War II? How would teenagers of today deal with the conflicts of war and friendship?

You are going to begin by researching some resources to learn about life in the United States during World War II. Using the information that you learn you will:

1. conduct reasearch about life on the Home Front during World War II.

2. visit the poster galleries to investigate how the U.S. Government used wartime posters to rally support and answer questions about the posters, and you will create an original time-warped poster to be displayed in class.

3. explain how you would use peer mediation and conflict resolution to help Gene with his conflict.

4. Gather various types of information on the 1940's and present this to the class.


Background Information

Before becoming an expert on one aspect of this topic, we'd better make sure that everyone on your WebQuest team knows the basics.

Read the following premise:

It is December 6, 1941. The United States is beginning to emerge from the Great Depression and war is raging in Europe. Every day you hear the reports of how it is spreading to other parts of the world. You have heard of the Nazi atrocities, but it all seems so far away. Is war the best thing for the nation? Should the U.S. get involved with such a costly effort?

Use the links below to answer the following questions:

1. List 3 causes of World War II.
2. What were the political conditions in Europe in 1940? What countries were at war?
3. Why did the United States become involved in the war? What was date that the U. S. entered the war?
4. Who were the three main AXIS powers? Who were the three main ALLIES?
5. What was the Maginot line?
6. Who were the Big Three (leaders) who set overall Allied strategy?
7. What was D-Day?
8. Explain what role the following people played in WWII:

a. Joseph Stalin
b. Benito Mussolini
c. Adolf Hitler
d. Franklin D. Roosevelt
e. Winston Churchill
f. Hideki Tojo
g. Dwight D. Eisenhower
h. George Patton
i. Harry S. Truman
j. Douglas MacArthur

World War II - Historical Text Archive

Very useful for study of WWII.

World War II Theaters

Shows major battle fields.

World War II in Europe

A timeline with photos and text.

The World at War, History of WW 1939-1945

A military history site.

Causes of World War II

Information about the events that led up to WWII and good resources.

Causes of the War

Explores causes of the war related to WWI


Individual Roles

Now that you have some overall background knowledge, it's time to return to the main question for this WebQuest. Questions this big and important are better answered when a few people are working on it at one time. Things work even better when a group of you decide to look at the question from different perspectives. This way team members can become experts on different aspects of the question and then come together to poll their learning. This is where team work pays off. So are you ready to divide and conquer this question?


home front historian

Use the links below to learn more about your role. Specifically, look for answers to the following questions: (Your answer should be long enough to answer the question thoroughly.)

1)Explain how the role of women changed during the war.

2)Give an example of how women made a difference on the Home Front.

3)Find a personal account of a family's experience on the Home Front during WWII and describe it in your own words.

4)How did the war time posters help mobilize the Home Front for war?

5)What are the posters indicating about living conditions in America during this time?

WWII Commemoration

General information links on WWII.

WWII: The Homefront

Examines what happened on the homefront during WWII.

At Home During WWII

What was it like on the homefront?

Produce for Victory

Posters on the American Home Front



Use the links below to learn more about your role. Specifically, look for answers to the following questions: (Your answer should be long enough to answer the question thoroughly.)

1)How could conflict resolution education at Gene's school have helped Gene face his problem?

2)Using the 6 Steps for Rebuilding Peace write a possible dialogue that would occur between Gene and Finny that would resolve the conflict growing between them.(Write 2 typed pages of dialogue)

3) If Gene and Finny could have had a peer mediator at Devon, who would you choose and why? What qualities make this character a good mediator? How would this character go about handling the task?

4) Write a letter from Gene to Finny explaining why he was jealous and why he hurt him.


Adolescent issues

Six Steps for Rebuilding Peace

Helps students resolve conflicts.

Keeping Peace on Campus

Site contains useful information on resolving conflicts.

Conflict Resolution



View the web sites on wartime poster art to investigate how the U.S. government used this medium to rally the support for war efforts.

After viewing the posters, select one poster and answer the following questions:

1) Describe the poster.

2) Does the poster contain a hidden/implied message? What is the desired effect?

3) What emotions do the images convey? What words are chosen for impact?

4) In what ways does the poster glamorize or villainize war or the people involved?

5) What effect would this poster have had on people of different ages and backgrounds in the 40's? For example, how would a teenager react to it? A veteran of World War I? A mother? A doctor? A minister?

6) Design your own time-warped propaganda poster to display in class.

World War II Poster Database

A comprehensive collection of over 300 posters.

Wartime Poster Gallery

A good resource on posters.

World War II Poster Database

Over 300 posters from WWII

Fighting for an Ideal America

Posters on American Home Front


omnium-gatherum of WWII

Use the links below to learn more about your role. Specifically, look for answers to the following questions:

A variety of sites dealing with life during the 1940's are given below. Explore each site and choose the four that are your favorites. Using these four sites and books complete the following:

1) Create a poster that gives the class a glimpse into what life was like in the early 40's.

2) Find a song from the 40's to play or sing for the class. Explain its significance.

3) Create a billboard for a movie from the early 40's. (Use Poster paper)

4) Explain to the class what life was like during the early 40's in America. You may present this through whatever medium you would like.

A Separate Peace: Information on the Novel by John Knowles

Site developed and maintained by Phillips Exeter. Good background information.

A list of WWII movies.

Random facts about American history.

Click on WWII on the left bar.

Picture of a 1942 Buick.

Choose pre-1950 classics.

A guide to the Oscars of 1942.

Homepage for Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Museum

Heisman Award Winners

Check out the early 1940's

Article on Time's Man of the Year

Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal

Group Synthesis

Congratulations! Your team is now full of expertise. Each person (or pair) on your team have become experts on the topic of A Separate Peace. You've all learned a lot of information. But guess what, gathering useful information isn't the same as truly understanding a topic. What experts in the field of learning suggest is that you now use that information in a new and challenging way. Then you'll really know about this topic.

So with your team members all gathered together, carefully read and try answering the main question for this WebQuest. See where you all agree and where differences arise.

After the discussion each individual on your team will write a minimum of two pages as a journal entry responding to the main question:

What would it have been like to be a teenager during World War II? How would teenagers of today deal with the conflicts of war and friendship?

Real World Feedback:


At the beginning of this activity, you were asked about the truth. Did you discover it? Was there only one? Did everyone on your team think so? How did you answer the main question for this WebQuest? Have you checked the evaluation rubric to guide what you did?

You deserve a lot of praise for all the work you've done. And so does your brain. You've sure put that gray stuff to the test. You gained background information, developed expertise in one particular area and got into some pretty expert analysis. At times, you must have felt confused with ideas spinning every which way. That's normal when you're building new mental connections. It's funny, with each link between what you already knew and the new learning going on, you broke another different kind of link, remember the intellectual slavery we spoke about earlier? You're free! How will you use these ideas and strategies as you continue to grow and learn? It's all up to you. Good luck.



Web and Flow, by ozline.com

created by Sally Hursey
email: sally.hursey@spartanburg2.k12.sc.us