THE Decade of the 20th Century

A WebQuest by

Margo Stewart, Oconto Falls High School

Social Studies Dept.   Oconto Falls, Wisconsin

Introduction / Task / Process / Resources / Evaluation / Conclusion / Teacher's Notes

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The twentieth century.  One hundred years of human history which encompassed a century of phenomenol change and technological marvels.  It was a century of dramatic human endeavor and achievement... social change and social upheaval... a century which dawned with the horse and buggy and closed with space travel viewed as routine; the telegraph giving way to cybertravel at the click of a "mouse."

You are a member of a team of researchers.  Your team's task is to explore the decades of the twentieth century and identify the decade which, in your team's opinion, is the most significant historically.


You will investigate through the use of the internet the decades of the twentieth century by visiting the websites linked below.   Each link will transport you through a series of links to a wealth of information about the twentieth century.  Listed below are areas of inquiry you may wish to consider in your analytical process.

    > What significant events occurred during that decade which had a major impact on history?

    > Who were the important people who made significant contributions?

    > What were the major scientific and medical breakthroughs?

    > What were the important inventions and who were the inventors?

    > Who were the social thinkers?  Philosophers?  Political activists?

    > Who were the writers and major works of literature?  Major artists and works of art?

    > What was the popular culture like?  Entertainment?  Sports?  Leisure activities?

    > What music and songs were popular?  Who were the artists?  Popular cinema or movies?

Process                          Vietnam monument.gif (82865 bytes)

1.  Your team will consist of three or four people to work with.

2.  Keep in mind that your team's final goal is to identify the most significant decade of the century.

3.  All team members will be researchers.  One helpful strategy is to divide the areas of inquiry listed above among the group members.

4.  While exploring the decades, and the events in them, sort the information into a table similar to the example below.   A larger form of this will need to be developed.  All decades should be reseached.  Keep your research notes to be handed in when this project is completed.   After all the decades have been researched, the team members will decide which decade will be identified as the most significant of the 20th century.  That information will be used for presentation purposes.








Popular Culture

Music & Songs

Cinema & Movies





































































































5.  Your team will finally create a PowerPoint presentation of your findings to explain which decade is the most significant and why your team selected it.

6.  Teams will take turns presenting their group's findings to the rest of the class.

7.  Students will be assessed by the teacher using an evaluation rubric.

8.  As a final assessment, students will "reflect" upon this webquest assignment by writing a Reflection ... (see teacher's notes below).



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People's Century  is a PBS website providing links to turbulent events with insight given through the testimony of people who lived through them.

20th Century America presents links to many key events and historical texts, primarily through links to several Presidential libaries.    

Yahoo's 20th Century is a directory for history and the humanities with links to the decades.

Encarta Online provides links to in depth social history from the 50's through the 80's including sports, fashion, music, art and fads.  It was created in collaboration with the U.S. Postal Service.

The Sixties is primarily a lighthearted pop culture site with some links to serious subjects such as the Vietnam War.

The 1920's looks at the Jazz Age, includes a timeline and links to people and trends.

American History Sources for Students presents many links to broad historical categories and links to decades.

Twentieth Century History by the Decades is a comprehensive site offering links to diverse subjects and links to the centuries.   This resource was posted by Chico High School, Chico, Calif.

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  Evaluation/Assessment   (Click here to view printable version)                                  

Scoring Rubric










General Research

Research is minimal; less than four decades are researched

Research is completed on at least four decades and most of the categories

Research is completed on at least eight decades; categories are also complete

All decades are researched; all categories are completed for each


Selected Decade of Focus

At least four categories are completed for this chosen decade

Research shows depth of understanding in at least six categories of   chosen decade

Complete and detailed research in at least eight categories of chosen decade

All categories are completed with numerous detailed entries; a complete profile of this decade


Technical Quality of presentation

PowerPoint is not developed; fewer than six slides; minimal effort is evident

PowerPoint is minimally developed; at least 10 slides of adequate technical quality

PowerPoint  is of high quality; at least 15 slides; some images imported; some transitions and animations

PowerPoint is of superior quality; at least 20 slides; images; graphics included; animations and transitions


Historical quality of Presentation

Poor research is evident; topic not developed

Decade is adequately explained; but information is not complete

Decade is fully explained; well researched and creatively presented

Exceptional research quality; decade is completely researched and artfully presented


Team Work

Members wasted time; minimal effort

Members worked well most of the time; coordinated their efforts

Members consistently worked well; coordinated work and accomplished goals

Outstanding team effort; strong work ethic; accomplished all goals






SCORE Maximum of 20


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   You have completed an ambitious look back at the 20th century.  By selecting one decade on which to focus, you have developed a better understanding of that space in time as part of American history.

Through team work you have created a unique presentation exhibiting your knowledge in a creative format.  It is the goal of this webquest to create historical awareness of our collective past... to appreciate our accomplishments and learn from mistakes in order to build a better future.

Teacher's Notes               suffrage parade.gif (17908 bytes)                          

1.  This webquest is an ambitious retrospective of the 20th century.

2.  It is assumed students have at least limited experience with navigating the internet links.

3.  Group students (3 to 4) or allow students to self select groups.

4.  Give students ample time to research all the decades.  Because the scope of this project is so large, you may wish to divide this into pieces and assign points for various stages of research completion along the way.  One method may also be to allow this project to be on-going over the course of an academic quarter or semester.  Instruct students to keep all notes.  (Perhaps a file or portfolio stored in the classroom would work for this.)

5.  This project is appropriate for upper middle or high school level.

6.  If available technology does not enable PowerPoint presentation, this project may be modified to the creation of a series of charts accompanied with visual aids.

7.  Some instruction for students may be required for PowerPoint, particularly inserting images, etc. from the internet.  The use of a projection device is recommended for PowerPoint instruction and for the group presentations.

8.  After completion and evaluation of your students, you may wish to instruct them to write their feelings, opinions, suggestions, etc. in a brief in-class assignment... "Reflections on the Most Significant Decade of the 20th Century."  This will give you valuable insight as to how well this project worked; what they learned, etc.  Be sure to provide a short list of questions (or points to consider) to guild their reflective writing.


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