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American Propaganda in the Great War

Lesson Author
Required Time Frame
One class period
Grade Level(s)
Lesson Abstract
Students will analyze American propaganda posters from World War I.
  • Students will analyze American propaganda posters from World War 1, the Great War.
  • They will view examples of war American war propaganda, & determine what these posters are conveying.
Rationale (why are you doing this?)

Students will learn that propaganda is information, both biased & misleading to promote or publicize a certain political cause or point of view. They will then analyze examples of American propaganda.

Lesson Objectives - the student will
  • Examine & analyze WW1 era American propaganda posters to determine the poster’s message, audience it is supposed to reach & its effectiveness.
District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met

Massachusetts Content Standards:

  • # 35: Analyze causes & course of America in WW1
  • # 36: Analyze the rationale of America’s entering the conflict
  • # 37: Analyze the role played by the USA in support of the Allied Powers
Primary sources needed (document, photograph, artifact, diary or letter, audio or visual recording, etc.) needed

The student may view examples of propaganda posters on various websites, including the following:

Fully describe the activity or assignment in detail. What will both the teacher and the students do?

The student will inspect & analyze three (#3) American WW1 posters: One should be geared to American men, calling on them to enlist in the war effort. A second poster should be geared toward the American people in general, illustrating the evilness of the ‘Hun” enemy. The third poster should reach out to the American people living on the “Home Front”. This one would ask all Americans to volunteer their time, donate to the war effort in any number of ways, or to conserve food/fuel, etc.

For each poster the student will:

  • Identify which group of people the poster is aimed
  • Explain in their own words what they believe the poster in attempting to convey to the reader
  • C) Decide if the poster effectively reaches the reader> In other words, is the poster convincing? Why or why not?

Important! The student must include a picture/print of each poster, either attaching their evaluation of each poster to on the print/picture, or by writing their evaluation on the picture

Assessment: fully explain the assessment method in detail or create and attach a scoring guide
  • The exercise (homework grade) will be based on 40 possible points.
  • Students will be graded on the originality of their poster choice (in other words, try to find one that another student is NOT also using) on a number basis from 5 to 10, with 10 being the highest grade.
  • Student will also be graded on satisfactorily identifying the poster’s audience, explaining the meaning of the poster, as well as deciding the effectiveness of each poster. Each of these three will be graded on the same number system as above, 5 to 10.