Tara Temprano and Sally Meyer
Throughout history, how have messages effectively communicated ideas?
Upper elementary school students must interact with and interpret historical materials in order to understand the messages they portray and the perspectives of the individuals and groups who devised them. This activity is designed to engage students in analysis of political/editorial cartoons and the messages they convey. After examining two cartoons, students will evaluate how the message embedded in each is communicated effectively. They will also discuss how communication has changed or remained the same throughout history. Finally, junior historians will evaluate historical documents to discover a common message about one event and represent that message with a cartoon or words.
NCSS History Era 3 Standard 1: The causes of the American Revolution, the ideas and interests involved in forging the revolutionary movement, and the reasons for the American victory.
– NCSS History Era 3 Standard 2: The impact of the American Revolution on politics, economy, and society.
– NCSS History Era 10 Standard 2: Economic, social, and cultural developments in contemporary United States.
– NCSS Historical Thinking Standard 3: Draw comparisons across eras…in order to define enduring issues as well as large-scale or long-term developments that transcend regional and temporal boundaries.
Students will create a digital poster with two political/editorial cartoons, explain their message, describe the intended audience, and discuss how communication has changed over time.
NOTE: Students will have prior knowledge of political/editorial cartoons and events leading to the American Revolution, including the Stamp Act, the Boston Massacre, and the Boston Tea Party.
A.) Introduce the Essential Question: Throughout history, how have messages effectively communicated ideas? Encourage students to discuss the methods used (language arts methods; technology).
B.) Begin the lesson with a review of political/editorial cartoons, including the purpose and methods used to effectively communicate a message (main idea).
C.) Create groups of 2-3 students. Review navigation of the website.
D.) Provide instruction about the activity at the depth appropriate for the students in the class. Students can be allowed to engage in the activity with a great deal of independence or a limited amount. Students will undertake steps one, two, and three in groups. One addition that might be beneficial is to have students highlight selected portions of each cartoon that supports their explanation of the message, then cut and paste them in the text box.
E.) When students have completed their work on questions one and two, direct a class discussion about their findings.
F.) Instruct students to discuss the questions in step three. Discuss findings as a class (main idea; concise content; historical context; historical perspective; audience; and techniques used, such as drawing, color, word choice etc.).
G.) As a class, revisit the Essential Question.
H.) Provide directions for completing the assessment.
a.) Based on what you have been studying, how was information communicated in the 18th century?
b.) What is the message embedded in the cartoon?
c.) Who is the intended audience?
d.) What could be removed from the cartoon and still send the same message?
In the form of a paragraph or political cartoon, explain the message that you think the documents present. Who is your intended audience? Would Ben Franklin or Thomas Jefferson understand your point?