Beacon Lesson Plan Library

A Fair Peace?

Chet Geering


Students will be given information on the Versailles Treaty at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. They will be asked to evaluate whether it was fair or not and asked to examine the treaty from the Germans' and Allies' points of view.


The student analyzes major historical events of the first half of the 20th century.


- [World History the Human Experience], 2001 New York, Glencoe McGraw –Hill (or comparable text)
- Teacher notes (see attached file)
- Scoring rubric (see attached file)
- Access to copy machine
- Chalk
- Chalkboard


1. Familiarize yourself with the teacher notes (see attached file).
2. Make copies of scoring rubric (see attached file).


1. The night before this lesson is presented, ask the students to read chapter 28, section 5 of their text, or comparable chapter in another text.

2. Ask the students, “What is your opinion of the Versailles Treaty?” “Was it too harsh, too lenient, or just right?” Have the students justify their answers in a class discussion.

3. Put their answers on the board.

4. Explain the concepts of hindsight and retrospect to the students.

5. Ask the students, “With the concepts of hindsight and retrospect in mind, did the Allies act too harshly, too leniently, or just right?” Have the students justify their answers.

6. Record any changes in opinion on the board.

7. Break students into five groups. Each group should represent a country. These countries are the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, and Italy.

8. Ask each group to rewrite a much shorter version of the treaty from the point of view of the country which they represent. This version should include a list of terms that would end the war but also benefit their nation. This student version should be around one-page in length.

9. Monitor each group to ensure they stay on task.

10. Have each group elect a representative to present the group's findings aloud to the class.

11. After a group has read their paper, allow a time for class discussion and debate. If other groups disagree with the findings of the group which has just done their presentation, then they should be encouraged to state their arguments. The idea is to see this issue from all points of view.

12. The timetable on this reading and debate is impossible to calculate. As long as the discussions remain civil and relevant, allow nearly unlimited time for this process.

13. Have students take notes on the material being presented.

14. Once all of the groups have presented their material and all of the discussion is done, the material and positions should be reviewed by the teacher with the entire class.

15. Students should be asked to rewrite the Treaty of Versailles in a short paper, usually around two pages.

16. Pass out the scoring rubric for the short paper. (See attached file.)

17. Teacher will evaluate the short paper using the rubric scale.


1. Students will discuss the material on the Versailles Peace Treaty in class with each other and the instructor. In this discussion, the teacher will guide them to make sure they include and understand the reasons for this treaty and its immediate consequences.
2. Students will be asked to write an essay reworking the Versailles Treaty.
3. Teacher will evaluate the essay using Rubrics in attached file.

Attached Files

1. Teacher notes. 2. Scoring rubric.     File Extension: pdf

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