Students examine the history of political art. They then create their own murals, political cartoons or posters, demonstrating an understanding of social justice issues.
One to two weeks
Analyzing art strengthens higher-order thinking skills and promotes visual literacy. Political art requires students to understand satire, idioms, puns, irony and dialogue.
- Search for examples of political cartoons, murals or posters that illustrate images and messages connected to social justice. The Perspectives central text anthology includes some visual texts
- If time permits, draw on resources from Using Editorial Cartoons to Teach Social Justice. This unit contains 14 lessons that support this task.
- Determine whether students will work in groups or individually.
- Introduce students to political art. Show a wide variety of examples connected to themes in the central text you have been studying. Explicitly teach the vocabulary associated with political art such as “idiom,” “satire,” “context clues,” “ irony,” “caricature,” etc.
- Provide students with information about supplies, work schedule and due dates. Use the rubric to define expectations and project components and to clarify how you will assess student work.
- Introduce students to the Do Something Student Planning Guide. Students can use the guide to decide what kind of work they want to produce, their message and what medium they will use.
- Provide ample time for students to create and revise their artwork and for peer and instructor feedback.
- Facilitate conversations between students and school leaders regarding permission and parameters for displaying art work.
- Find an appropriate location to display student work. Discuss how the context and location of art can affect its impact. Options might include bulletin boards, hallway wall space, or common areas such as the cafeteria, gym or auditorium.
- Take photographs to memorialize and celebrate student’s work.
Use journal writing or Talking Circles to facilitate student reflection. Some suggested reflection questions include:
- What was your favorite piece of political art? What were its strengths? Why was it effective?
- Discuss the effectiveness of using political art for social justice change.
- What did you learn from this experience? What about the process stands out for you?
- How did the art created by the class relate back to the central text?
English language learners
Political art can pose a challenge for English language learners because analysis requires background knowledge about the theme or topic. Selecting examples that are strongly tied to the central text will help English language learners confidently approach the political art.
Connection to anti-bias education
Political art can have a widespread impact on communities, call people to action and reflect the realities of students’ lives. It also provides an opportunity to creatively apply student learning in a compelling, real-world context.