Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Attack on Pearl Harbor

A WebQuest for 11th Grade (U.S. History)

Designed by:
L. Waskey

Introduction | Task | Process | Evaluation | Conclusion | Credits | Home |


It is December 1941. You work for a newspaper in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Pearl Harbor attack happened yesterday, December 7th. Franklin D. Roosevelt is probably going to declare war on Japan during his address to Congress today. You must do research for a newspaper article about how the attack happened, why it happened and could it have been prevented?

During your research, present both sides of the argument for or against a war with Japan. Are there differing views/reactions on whether we should declare war?


The editor of your newspaper has assigned you and three colleagues to investigate the attack on Pearl Harbor. Each member of your team is to focus on one specific area of the attack and the American public's reaction to this tragedy.

Your team will interview four different people including governmental/and or political figures, people who witnessed the attack firsthand: military personnel, ordinary Americans and Hawaiian residents. Ask all people interviewed whether they believe the United States should go to war with the Empire of Japan?

Using these sources, your team will compose an accurate, non-biased (meaning no propaganda) journalistic account of the attack and its potential consequences for the U.S. and the rest of the world.


1. First you'll be assigned to a team of 4 students.
2. You'll then decide which person you'll interview for the article. The possible
choices are:

· foreign leaders (e.g. Winston Churchill, Hitler, etc.)

· political leaders from Congress

· person(s) who witnessed the attack

· military personnel including their families stationed at Pearl Harbor

· ordinary U.S. citizens on the mainland

· Hawaiian Island residents

· President Franklin D. Roosevelt

· the Japanese

3. You'll use the Internet and/or textbooks, encyclopedias to gather information on your article.
4. Once you've gathered enough information on your interviewee, you'll share this information with your team members. Remember, some of your interviewees may be biased and could be using this as an opportunity to spread propaganda. Try and detect such actions.
5. Finally, working cooperatively with your other team members, compose two
(2) unbiased articles for your newspaper's front page for December 8, 1941. Be sure to include all the views and accounts of all the people you interviewed. Then, using these "interviews" write an accurate account of what happened on December 7, 1941.

Below you will find links to background information for the people to be interviewed:

Military Personnel/Witnesses:

Survivors Remembrances

'EyeWitness' Account

A Personal Story - Ginger

The Japanese:

'EyeWitness' - Commander Mitsuo Fuchida

Japanese view of the Attack - Wikipedia

Franklin D. Roosevelt:

The President's Opinion

The White House Reacts - 'EyeWitness to History'

Kaplan on the President


Pearl Harbor: the prequel


Jeanette Rankin - Congresswoman from Montana

Dissenting Vote - December 8, 1941

American public's reaction:

Library of Congress - 'Man on the Street'

Pearl Harbor Memories

Foreign leaders:

Winston Churchill



Each team will be evaluated according to the following project rubric:

Skill being assessed











Includes little or no essential information. Many instances of factual errors. Evidence that very little research was conducted at all.

Includes some essential information. Factual inaccuracies are present. Little evidence of in-depth research.

Includes essential information with factual accuracy. Evidence that topic was moderately researched.

Covers topic completely and in-depth. Content is accurate and appears to be well researched. Can show sources for research, if asked by teacher.


Includes more than 5 grammatical, misspellings and punctuation errors.

Includes more than 4 grammatical, misspellings and punctuation errors.

Includes more than 2 grammatical, misspellings and punctuation errors.

Paper contains
no grammatical errors, misspellings, or other mistakes.

Group Work

Evidence that the assignment was completed by only one team member, based on team evaluation sheets.

Evidence that only 2 team members completed the work, based on team evaluation sheets.

Evidence that at least one team member did not participate fully in the project, based
on team evaluation sheets.

Each member of the group appears to have contributed to the assignment and worked as a team based on team evaluation sheets.

    This lesson falls under the National Standards for Civics and Government: Standard XXV: Understanding the causes and effects of World War II. Plus, the Maryland Core Learning Goals: Goal 2, Indicator 2.1.2 and 2.2.2.


By completing this activity, you'll have had the opportunity to analyze the attack on Pearl Harbor and how it propelled the United States into World War II. You will understand how propaganda was used to sway the American people on the merits of going to war. In addition, you'll have gained experience in the area of detecting bias based on a person's role in the situation.

To sum up this activity: Is propaganda still used by governments around the world today, including the United States? And if so, what examples can you provide?

Credits & References

The National Parks Service -- USS Arizona Memorial

The National Archives

Last updated on January 18, 2006.. Based on a template from The WebQuest Page