|Grades||9 – 12|
|Lesson Plan Type||Standard Lesson|
|Estimated Time||Five to seven 45-minute sessions|
The decisions students make about social and political issues are often influenced by what they hear, see, and read in the news. For this reason, it is important for them to learn about the techniques used to convey political messages and attitudes. In this lesson, high school students learn to evaluate political cartoons for their meaning, message, and persuasiveness. Students first develop critical questions about political cartoons. They then access an online activity to learn about the artistic techniques cartoonists frequently use. As a final project, students work in small groups to analyze a political cartoon and determine whether they agree or disagree with the author's message.
Itís No Laughing Matter: Analyzing Political Cartoons: This interactive activity has students explore the different persuasive techniques political cartoonists use and includes guidelines for analysis.
Ciardiello, A.V. (2003). "To wander and wonder": Pathways to literacy and inquiry through question-finding. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 47(3), 228Ė239.
Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
|1.||As preparation for this lesson, you will first need to view the online learning activity at†Itís No Laughing Matter: Analyzing Political Cartoons. This activity explores five techniques cartoonists frequently use to persuade their readers: symbolism, exaggeration, labeling, analogy, and irony. Students can see how the techniques are used in a few real-world political cartoons.
|2.||Visit The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists: Cartoons for the Classroom to find current samples of political cartoons that you may decide to use as part of the lesson. You can also spend several days clipping political cartoons from the local newspaper. Be careful to select cartoons that present a variety of opinions. Create overheads of three to four examples, one for use during the first lesson and two to three for follow-up lessons. For the first lesson, it is most effective to have an extremely interesting, controversial, or timely cartoon that will generate student interest.
|3.||Ask students to clip a few political cartoons from the newspaper prior to the lesson.
|4.||If you are planning to have students access Daryl Cagle's Professional Cartoonist Index as an extension activity (see Extensions), you may wish to visit this site in advance to evaluate the cartoons for their appropriateness. (Note: The political cartoons on this site frequently change to coincide with recent news, and the site has a few advertisements that may be against your school policy.)
|1.||Begin by placing a political cartoon on the overhead. The cartoon selected should present an interesting, controversial, or timely issue that will be of interest to your students. While the content of the cartoon should be familiar to students, it should also present a puzzling or contradictory perspective that will stimulate critical inquiry.
|2.||Ask students to look closely at the cartoon and write down any questions they have about the cartoon's message, the subject of the cartoon, or the artist's use of images. These questions can be general with regard to the purpose of political cartoons or they can be specific to the cartoon they are viewing.
|3.||Next, have students organize their questions into the following categories:
|4.||Allow students to share the questions they have generated about political cartoons. Explain that you will not be giving them the answers nor are you looking for them to answer the questions at this time. Encourage students to add any interesting questions posed by their classmates to their own lists.
|1.||Begin the second session by having students complete the online learning activity It's No Laughing Matter: Analyzing Political Cartoons. As students work through the online activity they will have the opportunity to learn about the different artistic techniques political cartoonists use and to practice identifying these techniques in some sample cartoons. By the end of the activity, students will better understand the purpose of political cartoons, as well as the persuasive techniques that are common in them.
|2.||Once students have completed the online activity, have them return to the questions they generated in the previous session. Ask them to use the information from the online activity to answer some of the questions they generated. For example, if a student asked, "Why did the artist make George Bush's ears so big in this cartoon?", they should be able to realize that the artist is using exaggeration to express an idea.
|3.||At this time, explain to students that there are two areas to look at when evaluating political cartoons, the subject and the artistic techniques. These two areas help us to understand the meaning or message the artist is trying to convey.
|1.||Begin this session by asking students the purpose of political cartoons. Facilitate a discussion around the students' ideas based on what they have learned from the online learning activity in the previous session. Ask students the following questions:
|2.||Return to the political cartoon from Session 1. Ask students to use the information they have learned about political cartoons to identify the author's point of view or message. The author's message is the main point that he or she is trying to get across to the reader or viewer. Remind student to look at the subject and the artistic techniques (i.e., symbolism, irony, exaggeration, labeling and analogy) to help them identify the author's message. Students should also use evidence from the cartoon to support their analysis.
|3.||Display an overhead of another political cartoon (as prepared in advance), and ask students to describe what they see.
|4.||Tell students that they will be evaluating several clips of political cartoons. Students will work in small groups to complete this activity.
|5.||Distribute the Editorial Cartoon Analysis sheet and a sampling of political cartoons. (For this activity, students can also use the political cartoons they brought to class.)
|6.||Explain to students that when they are finished, they will be using the cartoon analysis sheet to create a two- to three-minute presentation to share their findings with the class. As part of the presentation, students will need to present their political cartoon, identify the persuasive techniques used by the cartoonist, explain the author's message or point of view, and share whether they agree or disagree with this message. They should be prepared to support their opinions with evidence from the cartoon.
|7.||When students are finished, remember to collect the completed Editorial Cartoon Analysis sheets for assessment purposes.
|1.||Invite students to give their class presentations, allowing the class to also comment on each cartoon's message and use of artistic techniques. The Presentation Evaluation Rubric may be used as a general framework for assessment of the presentations.
|2.||End by having students reflect in writing on what they have learned about political cartoons. Ask them to:
Assessment for this lesson is based on the following components:
Grades 9 – 12 | Calendar Activity |  February 21
Using lines from Bombeck's newspaper column, students identify allusive or satirical humor. Older students can rewrite the passages for a different audience.
Grades 9 – 12 | Calendar Activity |  September 27
Students explore free speech issues, search the newspaper or Internet to create a list of current events, and draw original political cartoons.
Grades 7 – 12 | Calendar Activity |  December 16
Students create a political cartoon for the Boston Tea Party and use the interactive Comic Creator to publish them.
Becky Fetterolf, RWT Staff
October 17, 2011
Donna,thank you for letting us know about the broken link for It's No Laughing Matter. We've fixed the links throughout the lesson, and the interactive should be available now.
October 11, 2011
I loved this series of lessons and used them last year. I wonder what happened to the resource, It's No Laughing Matter. I was planning to use the lessons again but could not find this website. The interactive was fun and informative for the students, and it was an effective initial tool. Will it be returning?
May 17, 2011
Fantastic material, I wil send some of my MYP Units soon.