Behavioral Objectives of World War I Propaganda Lesson Plan:
Students will develop their understanding of the following concepts:
- Define the concept of propaganda.
- Explain why the use of propaganda was of particular significance during this time period.
- Examine how it was utilized during World War I by the United States, Great Britain and Germany through analysis of primary and secondary sources.
- Evaluate the different strategies and tools used in the creation of propaganda.
- Describe other times in recent history when this strategy has been used and analyze its power to influence people during times of national conflict.
-  Demonstrate their knowledge of this concept by creating their own piece of propaganda.

Sunshine State Standards:
SS.912.A.1.2:  Utilize a variety of primary and secondary sources to identify author, historical significance, audience, and authenticity to understand a historical period.
SS.912.A.1.4:  Analyze how images, symbols, objects, cartoons, graphs, charts, maps, and artwork may be used to interpret the significance of time periods and events from the past.
SS.912.A.4.5: Examine causes, course and consequences of U.S. involvement in World War I.
SS.912.A.4.6: Examine how the United States government prepared the nation for war with war measures (Selective Service Act, War Industries Board, war bonds, Espionage Act, Sedition Act, Committee of Public Information).
SS.912.W.7.3:  Summarize significant events of World War I.

Essential Questions:
What is propaganda?  How and why do governments use this technique?  Was it effective during World War I?  What were some of the things that the United States government did during this time to promote the importance of our involvement in the war?  How has it been used since WWI and is it effective during times of national crisis?

Propaganda has been used throughout history by leaders and governments to influence their citizens during times of national conflict and/or crisis.  However, its use was escalated to an entirely new level during World War I.  In order for students to understand the concept of propaganda and how and why it was and is used to influence people, it is necessary to examine primary sources from this time period, and compare it to how modern governments have used this technique in recent history to sway the American population to accomplish foreign and domestic policy goals.

Day One
Introduce and review term of propaganda, what goals and techniques are used,  and complete document analysis of the primary source, “He Will Come Back a Better Man.” 

1.      Start class by having students write down ideas to answer the following question:  What is propaganda?

2.      After no more than 5 minutes ask for volunteers to share their ideas and answer to the question; record their answers on the board using the KWL format.  During this section of the lesson ask students to provide examples or times in history when they think this technique has been used.

3.      Following the KWL exercise and class discussion (5-10 minutes), provide the following definition of propaganda for the students to record from PowerPoint: “Something designed to influence our opinions, emotions, attitudes and behavior to persuade us to believe in something or to do something.  Examples include a poster, ad, song, movie, etc.”

4.      Show PowerPoint slides that list the “goals” of propaganda and the tools used to help accomplish those goals.

5.      Show the class the 1918 Vintage Ad published on November 30th by the U.S. Military Committee on Public Information entitled, “He Will Come Back a Better Man” by passing it around the room.  

6.      As students are looking at the primary source, ask them to think about some prompting questions about what they are seeing: When was the ad created? Who created it? What might its purpose have been?  What was happening at the time that the ad was made?

7.      After the students have had an opportunity to see the source, break them into groups of four and pass out the propaganda poster analysis worksheet.

8.      Give the groups about 7-10 minutes to complete the worksheet, and then discuss the answers as a class.  Record any new information on the KWL and collect the worksheets at the end of the discussion.

9.      Last 10 minutes of class explain the group project.  Divide class into 6 groups (one group may have one extra person if class has 25 students).  The assignment for the group will be to create a piece of propaganda from the United States during this time period and present it to the class. The group will be responsible for creating a presentation that describes and identifies the piece, as well as includes answers to the following questions:
  •           Was the propaganda targeting a specific group?  If so name the group and explain why.

    ·         Who created the propaganda?

    ·         What was its goal?

    ·         What were the tools used to reach that goal?

    ·         What was happening overall at that point in the war?

    ·         Do you think this piece was effective in accomplishing its goal?

    ·         Why did your group choose to create that particular piece of propaganda?

Primary source, propaganda poster analysis worksheet, group project handout with list of web sites, rubrics for the group presentation (including group member assessment rubric), PowerPoint slides (1-4)

Day Two

Review techniques and strategies of propaganda through examining primary source posters from the U.S., Great Britain and Germany.  Overview reasons for U.S. propaganda during this time period and introduce the Committee on Public Information (CPI).

1.      Begin by asking class to recall “goals” of propaganda discussed the prior day.  Show slides reviewing and providing examples of each technique (5-7 minutes; slides 5-11).

2.      Inquiry Museum activity (20-25 minutes):  Break class into groups of 5.  Have students come to the front of class, pick out a poster they are interested in and a poster analysis worksheet (posters will represent propaganda from the United States, Germany and Great Britain).  After every student has picked out a poster tell them talk to other students who may have picked out posters that are similar in nature and form small groups.  Instruct each group that they will take about 2-3 minutes and each student will individually complete the poster analysis worksheet for their poster. Following that task, each group is to construct a museum with their posters.  Groups will organize their posters any way they think will best describe the “theme” of their museum and will come up with a question related to their museum and posters.  They will present their information to the class in a 2-3 minute presentation per group.  Presentations should include whether or not the posters reflected one specific goal and technique used, or if there was more than one strategy in the group’s posters, as well as what the goals and techniques were.

3.      Following the museum activity use PowerPoint for direct instruction about the reason behind the need for increased U.S. propaganda during World War I and introduce the CPI, pointing out that it was behind the creation of the piece of propaganda from the prior day (10 minutes; slides 12-13).

4.      For homework have students read “Lusitania Sinking,” from http://www.awesomestories.com/disasters/lusitania.  Students should be able to read it from the web site, but a hard copy will be available for students if needed.  Read chapters 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, 14 (this should take no more than 20 minutes; chapters are a few short paragraphs).

PowerPoint presentation (slides 5-13), 25-30 copies of primary source posters from the United States, Great Britain and Germany available from http://greatwarpropaganda.weebly.com/, propaganda poster analysis worksheet (available from Day One materials), copy of “Lusitania Sinking”

Day Three

Inquiry activity on the sinking of the Lusitania using primary sources to understand the perspectives of the United States, Great Britain and Germany; cite http://www.shmoop.com/wwi/sinking-lusitania-activity.html

1.       For a bell ringer activity start with a Wordle (PowerPoint slide 14) on the first diplomatic protest sent by the United States government to the German government regarding sinking of the Lusitania.  Students will have the first five minutes of class to write down the words that stand out the most to them, as well as why they chose those words, and then what they think the Wordle may be about.  After they have finished writing have the students to name the words that they wrote down as being important and write a list on the board with all of the words from the class (10 minutes – see attachment for Wordle).  After the Wordle exercise let the students know they will have an additional activity either at the end of class, or for homework related to that activity.

2.      Following that exercise begin an activity on the sinking of the Lusitana.  Students should be familiar with the event as they read the story the night before.  Break the class into six groups of four or five students per group, depending on class size.  Have each group send up one student to pick the name of a country out of a hat (the hat will have six slips of paper in it; two for the United States, two for Great Britain and two for Germany).  After the students have their assigned country, pass out copies of the primary source documents to the appropriate group, along with a primary source document analysis worksheet for all members of each group and list of questions related to their source.  Students will have 10-12 minutes to read their sources, complete the first worksheet for their primary source and answer the question worksheet as a group. 

3.      After they have completed this task, rearrange the groups so that students are now in a new group with students who have just analyzed the sources from the other countries (a jigsaw activity with six new groups).  Give the new groups 7-10 minutes to explain what their source was, what its position on the Lusitania sinking entailed and how their response may have affected public opinion during that time.  After the activity is completed have groups share their findings with the class and record information on the board in a whole class discussion.  

4.      For the last 5-7 minutes of class show the students propaganda images of the Lusitania, and give a brief PowerPoint presentation on how this event was used as part of the propaganda designed to gain America’s support of the Allied position (slides 15-20).

5.      For homework, have the students read the document of the first diplomatic protest sent by the United States government to the German government regarding sinking of the Lusitania.  After they read the document, they are to go back to the notes they took during the Wordle exercise and compare their notes with the information contained in the letter in a written response to be collected the next day.   This handout will include a copy of the Wordle at the top to help students in their comparison between their initial ideas about the letter based on just viewing the letter, and the actual document.

Hat or container to put slips of paper in, 6 slips of paper (2 for Great Britain, 2 for U.S., 2 for Germany), document analysis worksheets (enough for entire class), primary sources - NY Times article,
article from London newspaper, German response letter, discussion handouts for all three sources, homework handout - U.S. 1st diplomatic protest letter, PowerPoint presentation (slides 14-20).

Day Four

Examine German response to Lusitania and review of British propaganda techniques.  Discuss the “new” strategies of propaganda in the 21st century through examining posters of Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden.

1.      Collect homework and start with brief discussion about the German response to the sinking of Lusitania, based on reading on yesterday’s activity.  Discuss how British used propaganda prior to Lusitania incident.  Show PowerPoint slides reviewing German response, giving examples of German propaganda and describing British techniques prior to Lusitania (10-15 minutes; slides 21-27).

2.      Transition into discussion of present day propaganda by showing clip of President George W. Bush’s 2002 State of the Union address, coining the phrase “Axis of Evil”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DqHyIcsO8E.  Ask class if they think there are any similarities or common themes in the President’s speech that might be considered use of propaganda to promote a certain point of view.  Remind them of the goals and techniques of propaganda discussed in the beginning of the week (5-7 minutes).

3.      After a brief discussion divide the class in half.  Show PowerPoint slide (slide 28) with picture of “Demon Saddam” poster and the “Osama Wants You” poster.  Half of the class with work with their seat partners to complete a propaganda analysis form on the Saddam poster, and the other half will complete their form on the Osama poster.  After about 5-10 minutes the class will discuss their analysis and record answers on the board.

4.       Finish lesson with PowerPoint slides discussing how propaganda still exists but in a different way than during WWI.  Have students look at their analysis sheets again, and ask them to name some additional strategies/techniques they might not have thought of before based on information given on slide 30 (slides 28-30; 10 minutes).

5.       For homework have students write a response to the following question:  How has technology changed the way Americans receive and process information?  Students should consider different forms of media and technology in framing their response, and give examples of the “new” strategies of propaganda.

Computer with Internet access for showing youtube clip; PowerPoint presentation (slides 28-30), propaganda poster analysis worksheet (available from Day One materials)

Day 5

Review concepts discussed during the week.  Groups should complete their presentations in front of the class as well as turn in their rubric.  Homework and individual reflections will be collected at the beginning of class.

1.      Collect homework and individual reflections. Instruct students to begin a bell ringer activity where students have 5 minutes to write down three things they learned about propaganda during WWI, two ways it has changed and one way it impacts their lives today.  After time has passed, have brief class discussion about the history of propaganda, the importance of recognizing and understanding it and how it impacts our lives today (7-10 minutes).

2.      Following discussion, have groups present their piece of propaganda to the class.

n/a - group presentation day

The following resources were used in the creation of this lesson module: