Propaganda Unit

This unit is designed to precede students’ reading of 1984 by George Orwell. The unit aims to get students to look critically at the messages and ideas they are exposed to daily. Students will investigate print ads, films, political campaign ads on TV, posters, and songs.

When students begin reading 1984, many of the themes will feel familiar. Hopefully, students will be engaged with the text because they are able to relate it to their own lives. The unit is eight days long with approximately one additional week for project time.

At the school where I teach, this unit is complemented by students’ study in history class of how propaganda was used in a variety of revolutions.

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Click here to download the Propaganda Unit’s daily lesson plans, handouts, and assignment sheets (.pdf)

*Note: SWBAT stands for “Students will be able to…”

Brief overview of unit

Day 1: Students will begin to define propaganda and its purpose. They will also begin to identify propaganda techniques (such as bandwagon, testimonial, and facts & figures).

Day 2: Students will discuss what factors influence what people buy. They will continue to work on identifying propaganda techniques. They will begin to distinguish between argument, persuasion, and propaganda. Students will look critically at print advertisements.

Day 3: Students will analyze film for elements of propaganda. They will begin to understand how film can be used to convince the public of a “truth.”

Day 4: Students will continue to analyze film for elements of propaganda, and argue whether a particular film is argument, persuasion, or propaganda.

Day 5: Students will learn about the production elements used in political campaign advertisements on television. Students will look at current campaign advertisements and identify production elements and propaganda techniques used.

Day 6: Students will look at the Uncle Sam “I want you” poster, along with several parodies. Students will analyze the posters, identify propaganda techniques used, and argue whether each poster falls under argument, persuasion, or propaganda.

Day 7: Students will listen to songs, identify how the songs communicate their messages, and what propaganda techniques they use. *Note: I have not included the songs or lyrics in the .pdf. If you can’t locate the songs I selected, please feel free to find some of your own!

Day 8: Each student will bring in a song for the class to listen to and analyze.

Day 9: Introduce final project! Each student will create a piece of propaganda with a message he/she strongly believes in. The propaganda will be in one of the mediums studied (print advertisements, films, posters, and songs). Each student will also write an artist’s statement and give a formal presentation.