Political Cartoon Activity

The lesson I’ve created is meant to be somewhere in the middle or the end of a unit on the American Revolution, where the students, anywhere from 9th to 10th grade, have been practicing analyzing primary sources in detail for the first time.

In this lesson, the essential question I’d like our class to discuss is How do Artists Construct Political Cartoons to Convey a Message?

During this lesson, students will first learn deconstruct a political cartoons in pairs by looking at the political cartoon “The Political Cartoon for the Year 1775” and discussing the 3 following questions with their partner: What Message is this Political Cartoon Conveying? How is the cartoon conveying this message? What does this political cartoon mean to you? After spending time with their partner, there will be a class-wide discussion regarding the same questions, where everyone will share their analysis about the cartoon. Following this period, I will give students the opportunity to create their own political cartoon, where they will use the guiding questions from the first activity to help them create their own political cartoon on one of the following 3 events: The Boston Tea Party, The Boston Massacre, or the Battle of Lexington and Concord, where they will create their political cartoon either from the perspective of a loyalist or a patriot from the United States in 1775. They will present their cartoon if time permits.

In terms of specifics, the first 7 minutes will be allotted to the intro activity of deconstructing a political cartoon. Discussing the directions for the “Create your own Political Cartoon” activity will take the next 3 minutes, where the directions will also be posted on the projector for students to refer to throughout the process of the creation of their political cartoon. The next 10-12 minutes will be time for students to work individually on their political cartoons, and the remaining time will be available for students to present their political cartoon to the class.


00:00-07:00 – Focus Activity

07:00-10:00 – Directions for “Create your own Political Cartoon” Activity

10:00-20:00/22:00 – Work-time for “Create your Own Political Cartoon” Activity

20:00/22:00-25:00 – Presentations


Teaching Reflection

In my lesson, I had 2 primary questions that I wanted us to discuss: What story do maps tell and How do maps reflect history, politics, and economics? While some aspects of my lesson worked better than expected, other portions of the instruction could have been better.

In terms of the positives regarding my teaching, I felt I did a good job with clear instructions and directions. This is something I struggle with quite a bit in my actual teaching placement. I tend to struggle to get the class under control while simultaneously giving proper guidance and directions to guide the lesson while working at my high school; being able to focus solely on giving directions rather than dividing my attention onto classroom management while teaching my peers made life a lot easier in this department.

The “draw the world activity” and the initial focus question activity were very effective at setting up the themes of the class and getting engagement from my students. The conversations they had and their contributions to the class were near perfect for me to segway into the next portion of my instruction, and while it is unlikely I would have gotten such constructive responses during the focus activity from my class at high school, the “draw the world” activity would have engaged everyone in the class and served as a perfect segway into the final stretch of the instruction.

My end activity, where we compared our maps to the map of China, could have gone better. However, aspects of this activity were still positive. There were clear connections between the ways in which the students created their maps to how the cartographers of china created theirs, and while I was able to bridge these connections at times, I could have done a much better job at relating the two activities. Some pre-thought guiding questions would have helped me substantially, as I was essentially scrambling while teaching at this part as I didn’t have the foresight to think to create these guiding questions for this portion. And finally, the weakest part was definitely the ending to my lesson. Essentially, I had no planned conclusive ending. I had a good idea in the activity that I created, as well as the flow of the lesson, but I had no ending activity that would have helped to sum up the activities of the day. Perhaps an exit slip or a google forum would have been a perfect ending, but I failed to include such an activity.

While I was satisfied with my workflow and delivery (other than the final activity), I feel my timing can still use a lot of work. The activities, especially at the end, felt a little rushed. I also felt the initial conversation could have benefited from using more time. While I have 91 minutes to work with at my high school, I need to be able to scale down and scale up the amount and duration of activities I plan so they properly fit within the time limits I am given.

From my experience, I learned that my timing still has quite a bit of work, and I need to experiment with effective ways to end my lessons. Many positive things I tried out also worked, such as my directions being written on the smartboard, using the document camera, and working alongside my students. I’m excited to put what I’ve learned into my next lesson plan, and I hope to learn just as much as I did this time.

Lesson Plan: Draw the World

The lesson I’ve created is made to be an opener to a unit on geography. The activity is meant to be for the 9th graders that I’m working with at my school, however it could be a good opener to a geography lesson for middle schoolers and lower grades in high school.

The essential questions I’d like us to discuss during the class period are: What story do maps tell and How do maps reflect history, politics, and economics?

During this lesson, students will be attempting to draw the a map of the world from their memory in pairs at the beginning of class. Following this activity, the students will compare their maps to a contemporary map of the world. In a large group discussion (the entire classroom), the students will question why certain parts of their map are less accurate than others, and why certain parts are very accurate. They will relate these observations to the essential questions. To finish the lesson, students will compare a map created by Ming China in the 14th century, and attempt to get an understanding of what story this map tells about Ming China.

For the specifics of the lesson, I plan to use the first 3 minutes to introduce the students to the lesson of the day with a focus question written on the smart-board : “What stories to maps tell us?”. Students will work together and think-pair-share the question to with the entire classroom. Following the intro, I will use 2 minutes to explain the largest part of the lesson, the “Draw the World” activity, where students will individually draw the world to the best of their ability on a plain white sheet of paper. I will do this activity too. I will give the class 7-9 minutes for this portion, where I will ask if anyone needs additional time at the 7 minute mark. After this portion, I will project a map of the world using the smartboard, and students will look at what parts they had that were accurate, what parts they had that weren’t accurate, and attempt to explain why their maps were drawn the way they were. I will go first, to model what I’m looking for, and explain how the deficiencies and accuracies of my map reflect my own individual history and life story. With the remaining time in class, we will switch over to a map of Ming China, and attempt to discover what story that map tells about China during the period in which the map was created. Both discussions will revolve around the essential questions for the class period.


00:00-03:00 – Focus Question

03:00-05:00 – Directions for the “Draw the World Activity

05:00-13:00 – “Draw the World” Activity

13:00-19:00 – Discussion and debrief of “Draw the World Activity”

19:00-22:00 – Map of Ming China Activity

Source: https://petrosjordan.wordpress.com/tag/da-ming-hun-yi-tu/

Thinking Like a Historian

This google forums mini lesson allows students to utilize a lot of historical thinking skills, including sourcing, contextualization, and close reading. An activity like this allows students to work with the primary source and make their own analysis of the document rather than reading sources secondhand from a textbook. It’s an extremely visual activity in comparison to reading, and the activity relates to key vocab found in most World War I units. Also, since I chose to not make the forum a quiz, students can collaborate and answer the open ended questions together. Additionally, I could see the forum formatting useful for a lot of different activities, with the most useful one being an exit slip for a formative assessment tool. I can very easily see myself using something like I created today in my classrooms in the future.