PLAN: ANALYZING ELECTION CARTOONS
Subjects: Government, civics, social studies, journalism and art
Time: Two to four class periods (with options for short activities)
Overview: There are several activities in this lesson packet to provide teachers with different options. Not all activities have to be presented to the class. There is a teacher introduction with information on teaching political cartoons, a brief history of political cartoons, and several activities on separate sheets complete with student instructions and discussion/written questions. Also, there are extended activities for more in-depth review of the subject.
2. Pass out handout #1 "A Brief History of Political Cartoons" (maybe the night before you begin the lesson) and discuss the article using the Review Questions as a guide. (Half a period)
3. Pass out handout #2 "Examples of Historical and Modern Political Cartoons" and have students analyze the cartoons, as described in the instructions, in the space provided. Here the teacher can monitor the students' work and depth of analysis. Discuss their findings when they have completed the analysis. (Half a period)
4. To open up the next section of the lesson, ask the students how a political cartoon differs from an editorial. Pass out handout #3 "Political Cartoons vs. Written Editorials" with the editorial An U.N.-Helpful Plan for Iraq and the cartoon U.N. Friends and give students some time to examine them. (You might want to assign these as homework the night before.) Then review the discussion questions. (As an alternative these questions could be assigned as written questions or an essay.) Another example you can use combines an editorial with political cartoons. Click on to this link to read an editorial by Dick Morris on the political dangers of Bush's initiative in Iraq with embedded cartoons: http://cagle.slate.msn.com/news/MorrisIraqDoom/main.asp (one period)
5. Pass out handout #4 "Political Cartoon Analysis Sheet." Divide students into pairs, trios or individually and ask them to examine the cartoons. Have students choose three cartoons they think depict the most interesting point of view. Have them review the questions from the handout in concise statements on a separate sheet of paper. When finished, have students share their thoughts with the class. For more cartoons students can go online to Daryl Cagle Web site at http://cagle.slate.msn.com/. As an alternative you can also copy the images on to a transparency and have students discuss some or all of the cartoons in open discussion. (one period)
6. From the cartoons on handout #4 "Political Cartoon Analysis Sheet" or from online research, have students select a cartoon that presents an opinion other than their own. Have students document what the cartoon is saying and why its opinion is different than their own (they can use the question guide on the handout). Have students develop their own cartoon as a response to the one they have chosen. They may draw their own characters or find the images from the newspaper, magazine or the Internet that they can use as a guide. Pass out handout #5 "Analyzing Your Own Political Cartoon." Have them write an explanation of their cartoon following the analysis guide on handout #5 and present their findings to the class. (One period)
1. Have students brainstorm topics and issues surrounding the upcoming presidential election. (Some broad areas are the war in Iraq, Homeland Security, social issues - health care, education, taxes, the qualifications and/or personalities of the candidates.) Have students go to the NewsHour Web site (www.pbs.org/newshour) and use the search engine to research some of these topics. Or they can choose a topic they are already familiar with. Have students examine the topic answering the following questions:
Have students draw a political cartoon based on their view of the topic or issue. Have them present the cartoon to the class following the guide above for analyzing political cartoons.
2. Have students find and review several editorials on different topics of the election campaign using the review questions in handout #4 "2004 Election Cartoons." Then have them locate different political cartoons that reflect the theme(s) and position(s) of the editorials. Have students write an essay that explains how the political cartoon reflects the views of the editorial.
3. Invite a political cartoonist from your local paper to talk to your class. Have students develop questions on how they got started, their philosophy on conveying their message (what is more important, the humor or the editorial message), how they get their inspirations and ideas, what training they had, etc.
Correlation to NCSS and Civitas Standards
About the Author Greg Timmons is a teacher, curriculum writer and Executive Director of The Constitution Project in Portland, Oregon He has taught middle school and secondary Social Studies for over 30 years, wrote lessons and directed institutes on U.S. Constitution related issues. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Oregon Council for the Social studies.
To find out more about opportunities to contribute to this site, contact Leah Clapman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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