Pirates, Tanks, Planes, and Brutes: World War I Propaganda


This lesson will go over propaganda in World War I, particularly propaganda targeting Germany. In any war, propaganda is made to instill a hatred of the enemy in the general populace and thereby motivate them to participate in the war in a number of ways from buying war bonds, to helping build weapons and vehicles, to actually serving on the battlefield itself. This lesson will go over propaganda from WWI and how it demonizes the enemy in a number of ways to truly make them the “enemy”. The class will be divided into groups and exam each work and discuss within their groups as to what they see and how it depicts the enemy. The class will then return together and have a class discussion on each work. The aim of this lesson will be for students to observe and analyze the works of propaganda and use this as a framework to build upon prior knowledge of the unit that concerns WWI itself. Ideally, this lesson would come in the middle of the unit so that the students have prior knowledge to draw up to make connections with the propaganda pieces. This lesson will primarily be focused on the contextualization aspect and will revolve around the students bringing context into their analysis of the propaganda



What does this image portray Germany as? What in particular stands out?

What does this portrayal tell us about the creators view on the Germans? Why portray Germany in this way?


Why portray a German solider as an ape?

Who is the damsel in distress supposed to be?

What does this tell us about the creators view of the Germans?

What do the words on his helmet and club refer to?



I think that a lesson on propaganda alone in the modern era would be a very interesting and insightful topic since it acts as a lens through which to view the past. Propaganda is often very crude and vulgar in the portrayals of the enemy and this reveals a lot about what was thought of the enemy at the time but also can reveal other underlying issues such as gender (featured with the damsel in distress in picture 2) and often race but this occurs much more frequently in WWII propaganda particularly the propaganda concerning the Japanese. This would certainly reinforce the students understanding of the times and offer insight as to the thinking of the time, both about the war and even on other issues that the propaganda did not directly set out to address. Overall, I think this lesson would be very beneficial to students and their understanding of the war and the mentality that surrounded it.


Works Cited

Photo 1

William Allen Rodgers, Only The Navy Can Stop This, 1917 https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2001700444/


Photo 2

Harry R. Hopps, Destroy This Mad Brute, 1917 http://loc.gov/pictures/resource/ds.03216/






Peace, Land and Bread: Propaganda in the Russian Civil War


This mini-lesson is designed to take place within the later portion of a Russian Revolution unit of a Modern World History course. Ideally the students would have already covered the events leading up to the Civil War. Background knowledge required would be conditions that led to the Revolution, The Russian

In this lesson we will look at Russian propaganda posters from the Russian Civil War (1917-1922). Due to the low rate of literacy before the Russian Revolution, visual art played a pivotal role in conveying ideas to the unlettered. Students will be put into the role of the Russian peasantry and asked to not only analyze the source, but also find context within the larger scope of the Russian Revolution. Each poster shall be examined individually before returning to discuss the two as a larger group. The primary goal shall be to examine depictions of the Bolshevik party during the Russian Civil War. Students will make connections to previous lessons and contrast the images we analyze with their previous knowledge of the period.


The first poster we will examine depicts the ‘inevitable’ rise in the Bolshevik’s fortunes throughout the Civil War. It is likely a anniversary poster of the October Revolution with the text reading, “Hail to the Universal Red October”.

What stands out to you in this poster? Who do you think was the posters intended audience?

Why is the poster divided into the panels? What are the differences between the two scenes?

What do you think is the intended message of this poster? What does this say about the Bolshevik movement?

This next poster was created by the White Army. It is entitled “Communist Paradise”. The top panel depicts the Bolshevik Central Committee, while the bottom panel gives the reader an image of the Ukraine.

What does the top panel say about the Bolshevik leadership? How does this image compare with the previous depiction of the Bolshevik party?

How does the bottom panel depict life in the Soviet Union? Who do you think is blamed for the conditions depicted?

How does the image of the Bolsheviks contrast with their own propaganda poster? Which image do you find more credible?

Do you think these images


I enjoyed writing this lesson, but feel that I struggled in finding and analyzing visual resources. One of the difficulties that I encountered is the amount of context required when examining pictorial sources from this period.It is easy to take background knowledge for granted,and as I walked myself through the lesson I felt fairly unsatisfied with the result. I think this lesson could be successful within a high school classroom, though to be perfectly honest analyzing WW1 propaganda posters would probably be a stronger activity. I did greatly enjoy going through digital reams of propaganda posters, the stark colors and spare design of posters from this era are always a joy to look through.

Link for Source 1:
Slavic and East European Collections, The New York Public Library. (1917 – 1921). Oktiabr’ 1917 – Oktiabr’ 1920. Da zdravstvuet Vsemirnyi Krasnyi Oktiabr’! Retrieved from http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47de-83c2-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Link for Source 2:
White Army Poster, The British Library. (2009, May 07). Retrieved from http://www.bl.uk/learning/citizenship/campaign/myh/posters/gallery1/poster6/whitearmy.html

The Black Death- A Reflection of Political, Social and Religious Views during the 14th Century

Historical Thinking Skill: Contextualization

Objectives: Examine and Question

Understanding the Lesson:

In today’s lesson, the class will read two primary source documents to examine  and question the diverse experiences during the 14th century Black Death. By using these two documents the students, by the end of the class will be able to answer:

“How did people understand the plague during the 14th century and did it reflect other fundamental  views of the time?”

Prior Knowledge:

Before this lesson, students will have prior knowledge will include understanding political, social, and religious aspects of the 12th-14th century, the background information of the plague (spread, cause, death toll) along with being able to pull out information from texts. After this lesson, students will be able to take their prior knowledge and use it to understand how the plague was experienced, how people tried to cure it, along with how the plague did encompass social, political, and religious aspects of medieval times.


To begin the class, students will define illness in groups of four. After  five minutes of small group discussion, I will open the discussion to the class. This question will then be followed by what students know about sanitation during the of the black death, which will be prior knowledge. I will do this so students begin to connect the dots that doctors in the medieval times did not understand medical treatments, which is a huge aspect of the plague. Overall, the first 15 minutes of class should be to get students thinking about modern-day illness’ and how different the experience would be in the 14th century.

During this time, I will hand out the two different documents along will completing a Compare and Contrast worksheet about the two primary source documents (to be noted: students are not working on compare and contrast, instead they are working on how to examine and question documents to come to their own conclusions). The compare and contrast worksheet will be a guide/aid in helping them learn a new way to evaluate.

Following our class discussion, students will either read the document individually, with a  partner, or as a group (with the teacher). The students will then work on highlighting and taking notes:

 Understanding the Black Death Original Documents

Depending on their mastery of compare and contrast, the students will work in specific groups (individual, partner, or group) to fill out the worksheet. The worksheet includes working on skills of contextualization, examining and questioning :

Plague Worksheet

The key questions that students should be able to answer are:

  • Did the two documents have different perspectives on what caused the plague?
    • What would cure the plague?
  • What do these two documents illustrate about people religious, social and political beliefs during the 14th century?
  • How was a doctor’s perspective changed from the time fo the Bubonic plague to modern-day?
    • Does it indicate why the plague killed so many people?


Lastly, we will move to the key question of the day, “How did people understand the plague during the 14th century and did it reflect other fundamental  views of the time?” This will be a class discussion, where students should be able to examine their answers and question the  different perspectives, to come to the conclusion that the plague did affect political, social, and religious aspects of the time.


The class will end with a ‘exit slip’ where students have to write on a sticky note on the conclusion they came too from the day’s activity.



This lesson was fun to create but super new for me. I usually stick to more modern history (18th century-modern) so, I had to step out fo my comfort zone a bit. I found my inspiration for this lesson  on Stanford History Education Group and made it my own. As a whole, I think this lesson would be super fun to implement in my classroom because  students are able to work at their own pace and comfort zone.  I believe this lesson helps students reach a higher level skill of evaluating, without making it intimidating. At the same time, I am confident that students will naturally question their thinking during this assignment because the primary source documents have some pretty insane comments, which are beyond interesting. All in all, I had a great time creating this lesson and I believe it would be  very successful in a classroom.



Lesson: SHEG

Document A: University of Paris Medical Report

Documents A/B: Black Death Documents

The Vietnam War – Context for Domestic Unrest

Understanding the Lesson:

In today’s lesson, our class will read and source two primary documents to contextualize domestic unrest during, and in response to, the Vietnam War. Using these documents, students will answer the question:

“Why did many Americans oppose the Vietnam War?”

Students’ prior knowledge on the subject includes Cold War foreign policy (Containment), U.S. entry to the Vietnam War, and the Civil Rights movement of the mid-20th century. Following this lesson, students will be able to synthesize ideas from two primary documents to formulate a hypothesis for why many Americans opposed the Vietnam war.


To begin the lesson, I will raise the following questions to contextualize this lesson within the overall unit:

Why did the United States enter the Vietnam War? Where does this War fit in the context of the Cold War overall? And, What is happening in the U.S. during the early 1960s as the U.S. formally enters Vietnam?

As the students discuss the questions, I will hand out the Anti-Vietnam War Movement Timeline and Graphic Organizer. As discussion on the above questions continues, students will have time to complete the first question on the graphic organizer.

Next, students will open the attached documents on their device, printed copies made available for those who prefer them. As a class, students will read aloud the first document, followed by a short discussion. Students will fill in graphic organizer as they read. When done with the first document, we will have a brief discussion of their findings.

Click here – both documents in plain text format found here (citations below).

After this discussion, students will read the second document aloud as a class. After a brief discussion of this document, we will discuss the following questions further:

  • Why did MLK and John Kerry oppose the war?
  • Why did anti-war sentiment grow after 1968?
  • Based on what you read, who opposed the war in Vietnam? Was it mostly college kids?
  • Using all the documents, why did many Americans oppose the Vietnam War?
  • Considering the context, can you speculate what those Americans who supported the war said?

Lastly, we will move on to formulate a final hypothesis of the initial question, “Why did many Americans oppose the Vietnam War?” To close, I will ask students to share their hypotheses, using the historical skills of source and context to support their answers.


I loved creating this lesson. In most of my own schooling experience, I learned history primarily from lectures and videos. After creating this lesson, I now see how learning through discovery offers a more meaningful, personal touch to history. Additionally, learning by this method helps students to develop critical thinking skills as opposed to passively “absorbing” information. The development of these skills alongside learning course content encourages a meaningful learning environment that will serve the students well for a lifetime. I am curious as to how I can find additional primary sources, including pictures, cartoons, letters, etc., to use in future classes.

I became more excited about history while creating this lesson, I hope the students pick up on some of that excitement as they work through the lesson as well.


Lesson adapted from: SHEG

Document 1: Martin Luther King, Jr. “Beyond Vietnam,” April 4, 1967, Riverside Church in New York City. http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkatimetobreaksilence.htm

Document 2: John Kerry, testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, April 23, 1971. http://www2.iath.virginia.edu/sixties/HTML_docs/Resources/Primary/Manifestos/VVAW_Kerry_Senate.html

Featured Image: Robert Joyce papers, 1952-1973, Flickr