Let Me Take a #Selfie – World War II Version (15MS602)

Let Me Take a #Selfie – World War II Version (15MS602)


In this lesson, students create “selfies” to represent various historical figures from the World War II era. Students are assigned a historical figure from the World War II and research that individual and his role during the conflict. Each student chooses a World War II event related to their historical figure and uses ActivInspire, Photoshop, or another image editing tool to create a selfie that depicts the historical figure’s reaction to and/or interpretation of that event. These selfies are shared via a class blog. Students use the images created by their classmates in order to help explain how Instagram and other social media outlets will impact the way that society learns, understands, and interprets history in the future.

This lesson should be completed BEFORE any direct instruction on the leaders and/or battles of World War II.

This lesson was based on this idea, and uses some of the same resources and materials. 



“I loved the research portion of the assignment. I think that assigning the students a leader was important. The students still had a choice of what to research in terms of the event that they chose, but because they did not choose the leader, it made them dig deeper,  as many of the students did not know anything about the individual that they were assigned.  The students learned a variety of information that went way beyond the SOLs and developed a decent overall understanding of the entire war, just from this one assignment. I also learned about events that I had never heard of. The students were teaching me about the topics that they were investigating.”


The students seemed to enjoy this lesson and practiced a number of valuable research skills while creating their selfies. The questions on the graphic organizer required the students to thoroughly synthesize multiple sources in order to determine the perspective of their assigned historical figure. However, there is one major change I would make to the research portion of this lesson in the future. I would like to require that students locate a primary source from their individual’s perspective that discusses the event of their choice. For example, the students could find a diary entry, audio clip, speech, etc. related to their figure and event, along with a variety of secondary sources. Some students did this initially, but not all of them did. In my opinion, this requirement would help to ensure that the students consider “historical perspective” when creating their final product, which is a primary goal of this lesson.

In terms of displaying the final product on the class blog, we initially did not have the students write about their creative choices (they only did this on the research organizer). I think it would have helped the other students to see a brief description of their classmates’ creative choices so that they could better understand the background information of various the various events and historical figures. Additionally, the students could have included links to their sources directly in their blog posts, so that that other students could investigate a selfie that piqued their interest, but that they did not immediately understand. This addition would increase the “Research and Information fluency” component within the lesson, as this would allow the students to “powerfully display AND interact with information.””

TIPC Ratings


In the graphic organizer portion of the assignment, the students create research questions to develop an understanding of their assigned individual and his role during World War II. Although the historical figure is assigned to the students, the students have some choice within the assignment, as they are allowed to select and explore an event of their choice. The students assemble and organize their research using the Instagram selfie template. The template fields require a synthesis of the students’ research. For example, the students must determine how their figure would react to the event in order to complete the “comment” and “hashtag” fields and the students must determine how others around the world would perceive this event in order to fill out the “likes” field. Students also synthesize their research and their understanding of their classmates’ selfies in order to answer and discuss the lesson’s essential question. This is the portion of the assignment that makes the task authentic. Although selfies and social media did not exist during World War II, they will influence how historians understand and interpret various historical events in the future.


The use of a blog as the medium for sharing the selfies allows the students to communicate and collaborate with their classmates. Students provide each other with feedback on their creative choices and develop an understanding of the essential question by referencing examples from not only their own selfies, but from their classmates’ selfies as well.


The students apply a variety of image editing techniques in order to create and display their historical figure’s perception and/or interpretation of an event. The students justify their image editing choices by answering various questions on the research graphic organizer.  At the end of the assignment, the students use the digital images created by the class in order to help respond to the purposeful question about how social media will impact the way that society views, learns, and understands history.


The students create meaningful work based on their research that allows them to analyze historical figures and events and make predictions about historical perspective. The students take risks in creating their selfies, as they attempt to role play an individual’s reaction to an event, rather than merely stating their own opinion. This task helps the students gain an understanding of historical perspective, and allows the students to develop new ideas about how and why social media will be used as a tool for understanding history.

Student Artifact

Image Links to Original Selfie and Student Post

Image Links to Original Selfie and Student Post

Lesson Materials

H21 Lesson Artifacts

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