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Monday, 12 October 2009 07:28

Lesson 3: WWI Propaganda

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(By Valerie Schrag
and  Shannon Stenger; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; Omaha Central High)


  1. The student will interpret World War I propaganda posters and identify their persuasive messages.
  2. The student will analyze how the U.S. government used propaganda to influence American public opinion.
  3. The student will create a World War I propaganda poster using the propaganda techniques observed in the World War I-era posters.

Primary sources

(document, photograph, artifact, diary or letter, audio or visual recording, etc.) needed – cite detailed information:


(This lesson takes 2 – 3 class periods)

Step 1:

  1. Define propaganda as a class.  Brainstorm sources of propaganda that the government uses today.  Discuss responses as a class.  Put up the following propaganda poster “For Every Fighter A Women Worker”-
  2. Discuss the meanings of the symbols, graphics, and wording as a class. Guide the students through an analysis of the poster, mirroring the questions on the “War Poster Analysis” handout.  Encourage the students to describe how the illustrations, colors, words and symbols communicate the poster’s intended message.

Step 2:

  1. Give each student a copy of the “War Poster Analysis” handout (Student Handout 8.3.1) and one postcard-sized propaganda poster.  There should be 2 examples of each poster in the class, which will eventually allow the students to work together in pairs.  The postcards should be distributed randomly.
  2. Each student should complete his/her “War Poster Analysis” handout individually.  Allow 5-10 minutes for this to take place.

Step 3:

  1. Once the students have individually completed the poster analysis, have them find the person who was working with the same poster.  The two students should compare their analysis of the poster, and discuss the analysis handout.  Allow 5 minutes for this discussion.
  2. Each student pair should find one more pair to create a group (4 students total per group).  Each pair will interpret its World War I poster to the other pairs in the group.

Step 4:

  1. In conclusion, allow the whole class to discuss the activity.  Which poster provoked the strongest response in each group?  Why?  How were illustrations, colors, symbols and words used to communicate the intended message?  Were the posters effective?  Why or why not? Discuss the following question:  Predict what positive and negative effects propaganda had on the citizens of the United States and others around the world.  Discuss responses as a class.

Step 5:

  1. Break students into the groups from the previous day. Pass out War Propaganda Poster Assignment (Student Handout 8.3.2) and display a copy of the rubric (Teacher Resource 8.3.1) on the overhead projector.
  2. Hand out poster boards and art materials and have students get to work on drafting their own posters.
  3. Students should research more posters online for homework and be ready to finish their posters the following day.

Step 6:

  1. Finish posters and be ready to present the following day.


Students understanding of the use of propaganda will be assessed by their answers to the War Poster Analysis Sheet and their responses in class discussion.  Students will also be assessed based upon their performance on the group propaganda posters which will be evaluated based on the rubric.

Last modified on Tuesday, 13 October 2009 06:24

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