This critical thinking skill is included because of the many political cartoons students will encounter in government courses. Have students practice frequently with the template using sample cartoons found in their textbooks, newspapers, and news magazines.
The lesson plan and sample student response sheet were developed to match:
- Government Core Learning Goal Indicator 1.1.4
- Students will explain roles and analyze strategies individuals or groups may use to initiate change in government policy and institutions.
- Skills for Success Indicator 2.2.4
- Students will establish clear criteria for evaluating ideas, issues, or positions.
Below is the political cartoon that students will use in this lesson. Make an overhead transparency or individual student copies.
A political cartoon is a type of drawing used to present opinions, comments,
or criticisms of a situation, person, or event. Cartoons help us understand information by presenting it in a visual and memorable way. Cartoonists use many different techniques to achieve their goals:
Caricature - exaggerating one or more physical features - a large mouth to show someone who often speaks out on an issue.
Model for Interpretation
Symbols - using a recognizable item to communicate an idea - an elephant to represent the Republican Party.
Caption - having the characters speak or summarizing the message in a few words above or below the cartoon.
List the objects or people that you see in the cartoon.
Which objects/people are symbols? What do you think each one means?
Are there any important clues (words, places, numbers) in the cartoon?
Describe what is happening in the four quadrants of the cartoon.
What is the political or social issue presented in the cartoon?
What is the cartoonists viewpoint on this issue? How do you know?
Who might agree/disagree with the cartoon? Why?
Describe how you were able to interpret this cartoon.
Government Core Learning Goal Indicator 1.1.4
Students will explain the roles and analyze the strategies used by individuals or groups to initiate change in government policy and institutions.
Skills for Success Indicator 2.2.4
Students will establish clear criteria for evaluating ideas, issues, and positions.
Lesson Objective: Students will be able to:
- Interpret a political cartoon relating to gun control in the U.S.
- Identify how special interest groups influence government policy.
Preparation/Motivation: Use the following questions to stimulate a discussion:
- How many students think that guns are a serious problem today?
- Should there be more gun regulations?
- Show the cartoon on a transparency and ask students what they see
as the authors message.
- Distribute the Political Cartoon Interpretation Skill Sheet and
allow students time to complete the questions. Have students share their responses to the questions.
- Brainstorm other methods that special interest groups such as the NRA may use in order to influence government gun control policies. List student responses on the board.
Have student groups select other controversial issues and develop publicity campaigns designed to influence government policies. The campaign should include an original political cartoon. Students should critique each publicity campaign as it is presented to the class.