Module 3: Multiple formats & comprehension

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by MissKCarr
Last updated 6 years ago

Social Studies
World War II

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Module 3: Multiple formats & comprehension

Author: Kayla Carr

Title: WWII & Propaganda

Web-Based ResourceIn addition to Dr. Seuss, Walt Disney, was also very political in the time of WWII. Mr. Disney created several short films of propaganda promoting the U.S. in the war and prompting American support of the war. In a remake of the Disney film “The Three Little Pigs,” Mr. Disney persuades viewers to buy Savings Bonds to support American efforts in the war – this has a similar purpose as Dr. Seuss’s cartoon and the American poster seen above. Mr. Disney’s video can be viewed at Like the informational text, the web-based resource will be used to enhance the unit.

Picture BookThere are several picture books on the topic of persuasion, including the book "Can I Keep Him?" by Stephen Kellogg. In this book, a young boy named Arthur tries to convince, or persuade, his mother to let him keep a pet. Though Arthur never is able to keep the pets he asks to keep, ranging from cats and dogs to tigers and dinosaurs, he is consistent in his attempts to persuade his mother. At the beginning of a propaganda mini-unit of the WWII unit, teachers can read this book aloud to students and ask the big questions: What is Arthur’s goal? How does he try to achieve this goal? This will lead to the topic of persuasion, which can be connected with the new concept of propaganda. Teachers can bridge this connection and tell students that propaganda is often used in times of war to gain support. Teachers can then give the examples that both sides of WWII, the Allies and the Axis Powers, used propaganda to support their own efforts and goals in the war, and that individuals used propaganda in the form of political cartoons to make a point about the government’s aims and efforts in the war.

Informational TextDuring WWII, propaganda and political cartoons circulated in countries around the world. In the United States, well-known authors today such as Theodore Geisel, who also known as Dr. Seuss, created political cartoons persuading readers to feel a certain way about the war and enemies of the United States. Because students today are familiar with Dr. Seuss, reading an informational text on Dr. Seuss and his work as a political cartoonist will help students make a connection between a familiar author and what we are learning in social studies. The National WWII Museum has a short article about Dr. Seuss and his work for PM Magazine during WWII (n.d). Many of Dr. Seuss’ cartoons are available online, and in published form. Richard Minear compiled over 200 of Dr. Seuss’ cartoons with his own commentary in the book "Dr. Seuss Goes to War." After reading the informational article from the National WWII Museum about Dr. Seuss, which will enhance the topic, students can look at some of his political cartoons, analyze their purpose, and even analyze other visuals such as posters from the U.S. government with similar purposes.

Module 3: Multiple Formats & Comprehension

Why Picture Books?

Why Informational Texts?

When planning for the middle grades classroom, often teachers feel that using picture books is too elementary for their students. In truth, however, "Picture books can bring the events an people to life for middle school students" (Billman, 2002). Picture books can be used for multiple purposes in the classroom including introducing, enhancing, and concluding a topic. In selecting picture books it is important that they relate well with the material and will help students master the concept being taught. According to Sunya Osborn some criteria for selecting picture books includes: mature themes, more complex illustrations than can be appreciated by younger readers, subtle meanings, two levels of meaning, and fiction versus non-fiction (2001). When selecting picture books for social studies it is important to select quality picture books because “Quality picture books, both fiction and nonfiction, can make historical periods and faraway lands come alive for students. … Students will relate to the lifelikecharacters … and form a reference point forunderstanding the more abstract historical and geographical concepts” (Miller, 1998, p. 380). The picture book selected for introducing the topic of propaganda in WWII does not directly relate to the war, but it gives students a reference point. By reading the story "Can I Keep Him?" students are able to take the abstract historical concept of wanting to persuade people's opinions and beliefs surrounding the war to trying to convince or persuade their parents to do what they want, such as letting them get a pet. Though it is a simple book, the "two level" meaning (a child's desire for a pet and the practice of persuasion) makes this an acceptable book. Furthermore, this book helps students make a connection between persuasion and political propaganda which follows the learning unit on WWII and connects with the North Carolina Essential Standard 7.H.2Understand the implications of global interactions. More information on the selected picture book for this unit can be found to the left.

Informational texts are important as they help build students' schemas, providing them with background knowledge. With background knowledge, students' reading comprehension improves (Hirsch, 2012). Furthermore, students are able to build their academic vocabulary. By using informational texts, students are able to build greater connections between materials. There are various strategies teachers can use to integrate informational texts into instruction including read alouds. Read alouds allow students to "experience whatfluent reading soundslike; theycanvisualize, andtheycan(withencouragement and support), connectwhat is beingread to what theyalreadyknow" (Falconer, 2015). When using informational texts such as the informational article on Dr. Seuss and his work as a political cartoonist, a read aloud can be used to link students' prior knowledge of Dr. Seuss and the new knowledge about his political involvement during WWII. The informational article is located to the right, and more information about the selection can be found to the left. In addition, a video with narration that explains Dr. Seuss's political side can be seen below.

Why Visuals?

Visuals within instruction are a great strategy to help engage students in material and promote critical thinking. Visuals can be used in Visual Teaching Strategies, or VTS. The purpose of VTS is to help students "cultivate a willingness and ability to present their own ideas, while respecting and learning from the perspectives of their peers" (VTS, 2015).When exploring propaganda during WWII, teachers have numerous visuals they can choose to use within the unit. Using political cartoons by Dr. Seuss in conjunction with American propaganda posters is a great way to allow students to explore the goals of political propaganda and the modes for presenting the messages to the public. Over 200 of Dr. Seuss' political cartoons can be found in Richard Minear's Book "Dr. Seuss Goes to War." Several of Dr. Seuss' cartoons can also be found on the border of this Glog.

Why Web-Based Resources?

In the 21st century classroom, it is important to use a wide range of resources to meet the needs of today's students. Because of this, teachers should explore the multitude of resources available on the Internet. The Internet has videos, images, audio clips, and a variety of Web 2.0 tools such as Glogster, Prezi, WallWisher, etc. that shares information and promotes building background knowledge and academic vocabulary. By using a wide range of modalities to present information, more students have an opportunity to make connections and learn. Using video clips of cartoon propaganda that was intended to sway the general public's attitude towards the war and promote support of the war, such as Walt Disney's "The Thrifty Pig," can help students understand the purpose of propaganda during times of war, such as WWII.


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