Teaching With Primary Sources Lesson: Propaganda

Mexico unido ante la agresion 1942, S. Balmori

In previous posts (here and here), I’ve described the work high school teachers from the Evergreen and Vancouver school districts did in a professional development cycle funded and guided by the Library of Congress’ Teaching with Primary Sources Western Region affiliate.  This blog post is one of five describing specific lessons created by teacher teams and explored through demonstration lessons using this protocol.

For this lesson, the teacher team collected World War II propaganda images and arranged them by nations (United States, Great Britain, Mexico, Italy, Russia, Japan, France and Germany.)  During the demonstration lesson, held March 1, 2011, at Evergreen High School, students used the images to consider two interrelated questions:  How do countries use propaganda to manipulate people? and How do these posters reflect national priorities in a time of war? The debrief conversation focused on the way in which this served both to develop important media literacy skills as well as an introduction to central nations involved in the World War II.
Artifacts from the lesson are posted here:

The group found that asking the students to separate their observations, inferences, and questions about the images was especially valuable.  Teacher observations of student conversations and student work analysis led the team to discuss some valuable questions:  What is the optimal point in the unit sequence for this lesson?  Should this lesson be used to catalyze study of the conflict or to demonstrate student understanding at the end of the unit?  In what ways should contemporary connections be developed into this study?

The lesson study team was composed of Steve Doyle, Tyson Bjorge, Tulani Freeman, Kinsey Murray, and Greg Ross.  They join me in encouraging you to use the comments section below to discuss the lesson.

What do you see in the lesson and the student work?

How did you adapt it for use in your classroom?

How did your students respond?

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