Cartoons Put To Good Use

I don’t know about you, but between phone calls and television commercials, I have seen my quota in media with the upcoming election.  How can we use this important event to assist our children in developing higher level thinking skills for their future as citizens, without bringing our own views and opinions into place in the classroom?  The following is an article about the use and creation of (political)cartoons in the classroom to develop thinking and creativity. 

Political Cartoons- A Teaching Strategy

Bob, an eighth grade student, loves art—so much so that he sometimes gets in trouble for doodling in class. His mom may not be too happy about that. But she is happy that his teacher was able to help him put his interests in drawing to good use by taking part in a project on political cartoons that was online and in the classroom. In assessments given to students, questions will include document based-questions—otherwise known as DBQs—that require students to analyze and synthesize primary source documents, like political cartoons.

Political cartoons in the classroom can help kids express themselves, develop their thinking skills, and explore their artistic sides. Cartoons can be important tools in helping teachers talk to their students about politics and world affairs. Students may have a different frame of reference than adults. Most of us don’t think twice when a cartoonist draws a donkey our mind shifts to  a Democrat. But a student, might wonder, “Why do they use donkeys in a cartoon?” Classroom discussions will try to see into the mind of the cartoonist and interpret what he or she is trying to say. Students can use higher level thinking skills.   A student may inquire, “Where is he or she coming from? What’s their perspective?   Students will need to research and analyze to find out answers.

Younger students can create cartoons that focus on topics they understand or want to learn more about, such as making friends to joining sports.  They can become more familiar with symbols in cartoons and how they often represent other things. A shark, for example, could refer to a sports team, or someone out to make money at another’s expense.

Based on his experience with the political cartoon project, thirteen-year-old Bob believes political cartoons are a good way to help kids his age talk and become more engaged in current events, such as the conflicts in the Middle East.

Information taken from the following resources •Tips for getting kids reading newspapers are available from Newspapers in Education. •Connect for Kids’ ‘Uncle Sam’s Kids •Connect for Kids’Pop Culture


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