Boston Massacre- Through Primary Image Analysis Lesson Plan

Target Audience: 

8th grade humanities classroom. This lesson will follow the lead up to the American Revolution thus students will have the knowledge to understand why the American Revolution was inevitably was going to happen along with the different depictions of the colonist and the British.


This lesson will go into depth about the different perspectives of the Boston Massacre of 1770. Students will start the day by reading a Newsela article. For the purpose of this lesson (in methods) I have cut the length of the article down and set the reading level at the max. However, when I use this lesson in class they will fully read it along with having different levels of difficulty.  Followed by this will be the group work of deciphering the two different images. The more specific content of this lesson will be in the powerpoint below.

By the end of class, students should be able to answer a multitude of questions about the Boston Massacre, including:

  • what were the different perspectives f the Boston Massacre, which occurred on March 5, 1770?
  • What were two of the different perspectives of the Boston Massacre, which are depicted in the primary source images?
  • What was the lead up to the Boston Massacre? (3 big points on the powerpoint)

Students will also be able to:

  • Identify key detail that are in the primary source images





Spanish-American War and Cuba

Target Audience: High schoolers, ideally following our unit on the Spanish-American War so that the students have context to analyze the political cartoons of this lesson

Content: This lesson will broadly review the Spanish-American War for the students but it will be more specifically covering how to go about analyzing political cartoons. I will give them a set of guided questions and documents that they need to both examine and answer in small groups. This lesson will proceed our unit on the Spanish-American War and will give students the opportunity to grapple with understanding the war from an American prospective and the American view of Cuba at the time.

Procedure: I will briefly review what we have learned in our previous unit by broadly going over the war and its consequences. Next, students will be divided into groups and assigned images to look over and answer questions on the board about. Finally, we will convene as a group and discuss our findings.


Image 1:

Image 2:,_Puerto_Rico,_and_the_Philippines_(1898_newspaper_cartoon).jpg

Image 3:

How to analyze a political cartoon




Before memes, there were cartoons.

In this lesson, high school juniors will be asked to analyze political cartoons related to immigration in early 20th century America. Students will be asked to use the Library of Congress’ Cartoon Analysis Guide to identify the persuasive techniques used and, use the guided questions to come up with their own conclusions on the varying opinion about immigration during this time period. This lesson will build off of our previous lessons about immigration in America at this time. Students will have a working knowledge of the immigration process in America at this time, including knowledge about the Chinese Exclusion Act.

The class will begin with a brief overview of the cartoon analysis guide. Using this guide, we as a class will go through a political cartoon together, identifying persuasive techniques, and then answering the following questions about the cartoon:

  • What issue is this political cartoon about?
  • What do you think is the cartoonist’s opinion on this issue?
  • What other opinion can you imagine another person having on this issue?
  • Did you find this cartoon persuasive?
  • Why or why not?
  • What other techniques could the cartoonist have used to make this cartoon more persuasive?

After we analyze a cartoon together, students will break up into groups of two to analyze a different cartoon, and then present their findings to the class. We will discuss their findings, adding any other observations we made together as a group.

Students will be analyzing the following cartoons:

  1. Uncle Sam’s Lodging House 
  2. Americanese Wall
  3. Dodging the Exclusion Act
  4. Welcome to All!

The Scramble For Africa

Class: High School Modern World History

Lesson: Students will begin to examine European motivations in the ‘Scramble for Africa’, this would be set as an introductory glimpse of colonialism.

Question: What were the attitudes of Europeans towards the acquisition of Africa?

Process: The teacher shall present a very short power point. The students will respond briefly to one of the political cartoons with minimal context. Following this students will read and annotate primary source documents materials and analyze the documents with an elbow partner. Students will answer the following questions with their elbow partners. Students will then discuss their answers to the following questions as a class.

Product: Students will annotate the primary source documents, these can be used later when asked to write an essay as a ‘unit capstone’.

Question 1: What were overall European attitudes to the Scramble for Africa?

Question 2: Look closer as the documents arguments, do they differ? If, so how? Do different countries approach African colonization in different ways?

Question 3: Do these documents support the political cartoon? How so? If not, how do these documents differ from the image presented in the cartoon?


Source Handout: