Propaganda: The Art of Deception

Teacher Page


Rationale: Since today's 21st century learners now acquire information from numerous digital devices such as computers, smart phones, TV, radio and even smart watches, they need to be discerning citizens. It is entirely too easy to be swayed into believing the latest political rhetoric or into buying the latest gadget based on a flawed marketing campaign or the manipulation of digital images.  Spotting the use of propaganda techniques within media is a skill that these students can no longer go without. Students need to be able to recognize devices used to manipulate public opinion such as bandwagon, testimonial, plain folks, fear, transfer, logical fallacy, glittering generalities, name-calling, and others.  So it only makes sense that students learn about media by using media in the classroom or the library media center.  Callison (2006) states that "the library media center is the best place for students to raise questions (p. 261). Hopefully, after completing this webquest, students will always question the images, ads, and campaigns that they see and become intelligent and judicious citizens of the information age.

Prerequisite Learning: Students should be finished with Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and have a good understanding of the text.  Also, the classroom teacher and/or librarian  needs to review summary and synthesis skills so that students can summarize resources and then determine how they apply to real-world context. Finally, students and teachers should discuss guidelines for working as a team to compile the group essay.

Materials Needed: computer and Internet access, printer, printer paper, notebook paper, and writing utensils.

Time Length: This lesson will take 2-3 fifty-minute periods to complete plus group time to compose the essay.

Professional Literature:

Barack, L. (2005). WebQuest blossoms. School Library Journal, 51(9), 26.

Bush, G. (2006). Differentiated
instruction. In K. Fontichiaro (Ed.), 21st-century
learning in school libraries
 (pp. 253-255).
Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Callison, D., & Lamb, A. (2004).
Authentic learning. In K. Fontichiaro (Ed.), 21st-century learning in school
 (pp. 247-252).
Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Callison, D. (2006). Questioning
revisited. In K. Fontichiaro (Ed.), 21st-century
learning in school libraries
 (pp. 261-264).
Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Halat, E. (2008). A Good Teaching
Technique: WebQuests. The
Clearing House
, 81(3),
109-112. doi:10.3200/TCHS.81.3.109-112

Hoover, C. (2005). We don't have to learn
anything; we just have to find the answer. In K. Fontichiaro (Ed.), 21st-century learning in school
 (pp. 244-246).
Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Ikpeze, C. H., &
Boyd, F. B. (2007). Web-Based Inquiry Learning: Facilitating
Thoughtful Literacy With WebQuests. Reading
, 60(7),
644-654. doi:10.1598/RT.60.7.5

Knodt, J. (2009). Cultivating curious
minds: teaching for innovation through open-inquiry learning. Teacher Librarian, 37(1), 15-22.

Zheng, R., Stucky, B.,
McAlack, M., Menchana, M., & Stoddart, S. (2004). Webquest
learning as perceived by higher-education learners.
 Techtrends: Linking research &
practice to improve learning
, 49(4),
41-49. doi:10.1007/BF02824110


Oklahoma Academic Standards (PASS):
Comprehension Standard 2.4. Analysis and Evaluation
a. Discriminate between fact and opinion and fiction and nonfiction.
b. Recognize deceptive and/or faulty arguments in persuasive text;
Writing/Grammar/Usage/Mechanics Standard 2.3.Compose persuasive/argumentative compositions that:
a.include a well-defined thesis that makes a clear and knowledgeable appeal in a sustained and effective fashion.
b.use exposition, narration, and description to support the main argument.
c.clarify and defend positions with precise and relevant evidence, including facts, expert opinions, quotations, expressions of commonly accepted beliefs, and logical reasoning.
d.effectively address reader's concerns, counterclaims, biases, and expectations.

AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner
1.1.1 Follow an inquiry based process in seeking knowledge in curricular subjects, and make the real world connection for using this process in own life.
1.3.4 Contribute to the exchange of ideas within the learning community.
2.1.2 Organize knowledge so that it is useful.
3.1.4 Use technology and other information tools to organize and display knowledge and understanding in ways that others can view, use, and assess.
4.1.5 Connect ideas to own interests and previous knowledge and experience.



Thank you to wpclipart for providing public domain images:
Sherman, P. (2015). Public Domain clip art at WPClipart, top thumbnail browsing page. Retrieved from http://www.wpclipart.com/browse.html


After creating this webquest, I realize how important it is to incorporate digital tools to reach 21st century learners. It is also important to develop digital lessons that require complex and critical thinking for students so that the tool is not just a digitized worksheet in disguise. This site, www.zunal.com, made the process easier because of the pre-made templates. I would recommend it to others. However, I also learned that creating something like this also takes a tremendous amount of time to do it right. It is not something that can be quickly and correctly completed at the last minute.

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