K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education
black and white cover of a grooming pamphlet issued in 1939

(Provided by the Green 'N' Growing Collection (The History of Home Demonstration and 4-H Youth Development in North Carolina), Special Collections, North Carolina State University Libraries. More about the illustration)

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Learning outcomes

Students will also be able to:

  • assess and evaluate visual data
  • consider multiple perspectives
  • analyze propaganda
  • form opinions and support them with facts

These two activities can also be used individually to practice critical thinking skills and primary document analysis.

Teacher planning

Classroom time required

1–2 70-minute class periods

Materials/Resources

Technology resources

LCD project and computer or an overhead projector

Pre-activities

  1. Using a variety of magazines and newspapers (you can even use commercials and websites), the teacher should locate several advertisements that use propaganda and have them ready to display in the classroom.
  2. The teacher should review the Grooming pamphlet and select the portion/portions she wants to use in Activity 2. Assign this reading the night before the classroom activity.

Warm-up activity

  1. Have students create a simple advertisement, using both words and visuals, that public health officials might use to encourage parents to get their infants immunized.
  2. Ask several students to share their advertisements.
  3. Explain to students that advertisements can use propaganda to persuade or deter people from taking part in activities. Continue on to define propaganda, making sure to emphasize that it is biased, misleading, or unbalanced information generally used to further a political cause. Also point out that while the term propaganda, in general, refers to derogatory information, it can describe complimentary information.
  4. Using the ads from magazines, show how the first few use propaganda to further a cause. Continue by inviting students as a group to determine how the rest of the ads use propaganda. (The New York Times often has some unusual and inflammatory political ads that might be interesting to your students.)
  5. Ask students to volunteer how might their ads be changed to use propaganda to convince parents to immunize their babies?

Activities

Activity 1

  1. Place students in cooperative groups of three to four (depending on class size).
  2. Give each group copies of the public service posters concerning child nutrition.
  3. Students will analyze these posters together and generate answers for the poster analysis worksheet.
  4. Pull the class back together to discuss the activity. Have each group their answers concerning the posters.
  5. See the assessment to conclude this activity.

Activity 2

  1. Arrange desks or chairs into an inner and an outer circle. Have half of your students sit in the inner circle, and half in the outer one. Leave an empty seat open in the inner circle. This is a “hot seat” if any one in the outer circle wants to answer a question or make a comment during the discussions.
  2. Discuss rules for appreciating everyone’s opinions and feelings as well as tactics for disagreeing in a polite manner. There can be no open discussion if students are concerned about being laughed at or having their ideas dismissed.
  3. Have students spend a few minutes writing their thoughts, comments, and questions about the reading assignment.
  4. Pair up students sitting next to each other in the same circle to discuss their thoughts and questions.
  5. After several minutes of one-on-one discussion, students come back as a group. Those students sitting in the inner circle take turns sharing their partners’ comments and thoughts about the reading assignment. Those students also may participate openly in discussion. Use your discussion questions to help guide the group conversation. Students in the outer circle must take the hot seat if they wish to ask a question or make a comment.
  6. For the second half of the discussion, students seated on the outer circle exchange seats with those who have begun on the inner circle and repeat the process.
  7. Take a couple of minutes for students to write down a brief closing comment on the discussion. When students have finished their comments, they should share them with the class.
  8. See the Assessment section to conclude this activity.

Assessment

I like to have my students express themselves creatively while demonstrating what they have learned during the unit. I usually provide 2 or 3 activities to give students a choice.

Public service poster assessment

Propaganda Poster

Students will create a propaganda poster for a current issue/event using the fear tactic. Make sure the completed posters include the following:

  • pictures (either drawn by students or cut from magazines)
  • written information to describe what is taking place and how the target audience should react or feel about it
  • pictures and information should contain some truth
  • be free of spelling and grammar errors

Use the bulleted items as a rubric.

Postcard to a friend

Students will assume the role of a parent living in rural North Carolina during the 1920s. They will write a postcard to their teacher describing how the nutrition posters affected their life. Their postcards should include:

  • how they were affected by poster when they first saw/read it
  • changes they made to their diet because of the poster
  • obstacles they had to overcome to make those changes and how they were overcome (financial problems, learning more about nutrition, growing different items in their gardens, etc.)
  • be free of spelling and grammar errors
  • include a colorful picture on the front that reflects the content of the postcard

Use the bulleted items as a rubric.

Grooming pamphlet assessment

Then and now poster

Students will create a poster to illustrate the images of beauty as seen by early 1900s society and by today’s society. Their poster should include:

  • 3–4 pictures to illustrate both time periods (may be drawn or cut from magazines)
  • 3–4 written “guidelines” as to what is acceptable for hair, skin, clothing, weight, etc. for each time period
  • propaganda reflective of each time period
  • proper spelling and grammar

(Use the bulleted items as a rubric.)

Letter to the editor

Students will assume the role of a concerned citizen living in North Carolina during the early 1900s. They will write a letter to the editor of the local newspaper describing how the grooming pamphlet is or is not an important guideline to beauty and health. Their letter should include:

  • at least three reasons the pamphlet is or is not important information every young woman should have and why
  • quotes or phrases from the pamphlet to support their arguments
  • a clearly stated opinion
  • correct spelling and grammar usage

(Use the bulleted items as a rubric.)

Supplemental information

Modifications

Inclusion students can be allowed to complete an activity in small groups.

Academically gifted students can be assigned both assessments for the activity.

Critical vocabulary

body image
The subjective picture or mental image of ones own body.
fear appeal
“When a propagandist warns members of her audience that disaster will result if they do not follow a particular course of action, she is using the fear appeal. By playing on the audience’s deep-seated fears, practitioners of this technique hope to redirect attention away from the merits of a particular proposal and toward steps that can be taken to reduce the fear.” From the Propaganda Critic.
pamphlet
A complete publication of generally less than 80 pages stitched or stapled together and usually having a paper cover.
propaganda
Information, especially biased or misleading information, that is disseminated to promote a political cause or point of view.
stereotype
A widely held but oversimplified idea of the characteristics which typify a person, situation, etc.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • Speaking & Listening

        • Grade 6
          • 6.SL.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 6 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly. 6.SL.1.1 Come to discussions...
          • 6.SL.2 Interpret information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how it contributes to a topic, text, or issue under study.
        • Grade 7
          • 7.SL.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 7 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly. 7.SL.1.1 Come to discussions...
          • 7.SL.2 Analyze the main ideas and supporting details presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how the ideas clarify a topic, text, or issue under study.
        • Grade 8
          • 8.SL.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly. 8.SL.1.1 Come to discussions...
          • 8.SL.2 Analyze the purpose of information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and evaluate the motives (e.g., social, commercial, political) behind its presentation.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 5

  • Goal 3: The learner will make connections through the use of oral language, written language, and media and technology.
    • Objective 3.07: Make informed judgments about:
      • bias.
      • propaganda.
      • stereotyping.
      • media techniques.

Grade 6

  • Goal 4: The learner will use critical thinking skills and create criteria to evaluate print and non-print materials.
    • Objective 4.01: Determine the purpose of the author or creator by:
      • monitoring comprehension for understanding of what is read, heard and/or viewed.
      • exploring any bias, apparent or hidden messages, emotional factors, or propaganda techniques.
      • identifying and exploring the underlying assumptions of the author/creator.
      • analyzing the effects of the author's craft on the reader/viewer/listener.

    Grade 7

    • Goal 4: The learner will refine critical thinking skills and create criteria to evaluate text and multimedia.
      • Objective 4.01: Analyze the purpose of the author or creator by:
        • monitoring comprehension for understanding of what is read, heard and/or viewed.
        • examining any bias, apparent or hidden messages, emotional factors, or propaganda techniques.
        • exploring and evaluating the underlying assumptions of the author/creator.
        • understanding the effect of the author's craft on the reader/viewer/listener.

    Grade 8

    • Goal 4: The learner will continue to refine critical thinking skills and create criteria to evaluate print and non-print materials.
      • Objective 4.01: Analyze the purpose of the author or creator and the impact of that purpose by:
        • monitoring comprehension for understanding of what is read, heard, and/or viewed.
        • evaluating any bias, apparent or hidden messages, emotional factors, and/or propaganda techniques.
        • evaluating the underlying assumptions of the author/creator.
        • evaluate the effects of the author's craft on the reader/viewer/listener.