Spotlight on Strategies

Analyzing World War I Propaganda

Why Should Students Analyze Propaganda?

As a Social Studies teacher, I am very concerned about the ability of my students to differentiate between fact and opinion. I want my students to develop the disciplined mind of being able to think critically so that they can identify facts and bias in news reporting, political speech, advertising, etc. As Howard Gardner expressed, "...undisciplined individuals may not even be able to ascertain which persons or ideas are reliable guides, informants, opinion leaders," (Gardner, LOC 496 of 2638, 19%, Kindle version). The reality is that our students are bombarded with propaganda and bias on a daily basis through both traditional and digital media. If students are not able to process and analyze this information in a way that allows them to separate fact from opinion the future of our society is bleak. Today's students will become tomorrows adults, and without the ability to think independently and identify bias they will blindly accept what as truth what they are told by companies, the media and the government. This activity will require students to analyze and compare/contrast examples of WWI propaganda. Using graphic organizers to compare and contrast (identify similarities and differences) is one of Bob Marzano's nine "high-yield instructional strategies." In fact, according to Marzano, identifying similarities and differences produces the greatest (45%) gain in student achievement.

PA Social Studies Standards Addressed:

5.1.8.F - Analyze how political symbols are used by the media and leaders to influence public opinion.

5.1.C.F- Analyze the role political symbols play in civil disobedience and patriotic activities

5.1.W.F- Evaluate the role of nationalism in uniting and dividing citizens

5.3.C.H - Evaluate the role of mass media in setting public agenda and influencing political life

5.4.8.D - Describe how mass media influences our view of international events.

8.1.U.B - Evaluate the interpretation of historical events and sources, considering the use of fact versus opinion, multiple perspectives, and cause and effect relationships.

CC.8.5.6-8.H. Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.

Example: Analysis and Comparison of World War I Propaganda

Students will begin the lesson by viewing a video (Propaganda During WWI - linked below) explaining the purposes for and creation of World War I propaganda. While viewing the video, students will answer questions on a summary worksheet. Next, students will view two images of WWI propaganda (displayed below). Students will complete an analysis worksheet for each image, and then complete a Venn Diagram to identify similarities and differences between the two images.

Propaganda During WWI Video:

Video Summary Worksheet:

Image Analysis Worksheet:


This activity can be easily adapted in a way that allows students to analyze and compare and contrast other examples of propaganda. For example, WWII and the Cold War both provide many examples of the use propaganda. The military continues to use various forms of propaganda that could be compared as a current events lesson. Even if you don't teach Social Studies there are similar lessons that would fit within this basic template. For example, the same basic activity can be used in Family and Consumer Science to examine print, video or digital advertisements. It is of vital important that our students be able to identify fact vs. opinion, so find activities that fit within your curriculum that require students to identify and analyze biased information and sources.

WWII Propaganda:

Cold War Propaganda:

Military Pays A LOT For Propaganda



Gardner, H. (2007). Five Minds for the Future [digital version: Kindle Cloud Reader]. Retrieved from


Cold War propaganda. (2013). Retrieved April 10, 2016, from

The Great War Project. (2016). Propaganda During World War 1 - Opening Pandora's Box I THE GREAT WAR Special. Retrieved April 10, 2016, from

Palm Beach Schools. Marzaon's (Nine) High Yield Instructional Strategies. Retrieved from

PROPAGANDA POSTERS AT A GLANCE:. (n.d.). Retrieved April 10, 2016, from

The Young Turks. (2015). Military Pays A LOT For Propaganda. Retrieved April 10, 2016, from


[German soldier]. (2011). Retrieved April 10, 2016, from

[Rally round the flag]. (2011). Retrieved April 10, 2016, from

[Uncle Sam With Hands on Hips]. (2011). Retrieved April 10, 2016, from

[I Want You]. (2011). Retrieved April 10, 2016, from