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Lesson Plan

Analyzing the Stylistic Choices of Political Cartoonists

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Analyzing the Stylistic Choices of Political Cartoonists

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Five 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Traci Gardner

Traci Gardner

Blacksburg, Virginia


National Council of Teachers of English



From Theory to Practice



Students learn terminology that describes comics and political (or editorial) cartoons and discuss how the cartoonists' choices influence the messages that they communicate. Students first identify and define the various parts of a cartoon, including layout and design, angles, and text terms. After discussing several cartoons as a full class, each student analyzes the techniques that the same cartoonist uses in five or more cartoons. Students compare the techniques in the group of cartoons and draw conclusions about why the cartoonist chose the specific techniques to communicate their messages. This lesson points to contemporary political cartoons but can also be completed with historical political cartoons.

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Students are surrounded by texts, print and nonprint, that take advantage of the increasing options for combining words, images, sounds, and other media to create a publication. As these options increase, the capabilities that students must develop to be knowledgeable members of their literacy communities also increase. As the 1975 NCTE Resolution on Promoting Media Literacy states, "new critical abilities ‘in reading, listening, viewing, and thinking'...enable students to deal constructively with complex new modes of delivering information, new multisensory tactics for persuasion, and new technology-based art forms." Political cartoons provide an opportunity to explore these critical abilities in the classroom. By asking students to explore the ways that cartoons combine words and images to communicate their messages, this lesson plan asks students to develop and hone the multimodal literacy skills that ultimately help them participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.

Further Reading

National Council of Teachers of English. 1975. Resolution on Promoting Media Literacy. October 2009. Web. http://www.ncte.org/positions/statements/promotingmedialit

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