Wessels Living History Farm - York Nebraska Learner Resources for the 1940s
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Online Lesson Plan
GI's, Gals & Gardens

  Guy Trainin  

Lesson Plan by , Assistant Professor in Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education at UNL and a Co-Director of the Great Plains Institute for Reading and Writing. He is affiliated with the elementary education program as well as the UNL literacy group. He received his PhD in 2002 in Education from the University of California Riverside.

Subject Area:
Social Studies & Reading
Suggested Grade Level:
Grades 9-12
Learning Modality:
Visual Learners
Multiple Intelligence:
Interpersonal Intelligence
Bloom's Taxonomy:
What are these educational concepts? What are these educational concepts?


  Victory Garden poster  

The student will:

  • Design a recruitment campaign targeting a specific audience
  • Deliver an oral presentation
  • Integrate multi-media with report writing
  • Use strategies to create and evaluate oral and visual presentations


StandardsThis lesson introduces students to the power of propaganda. In order to understand why so many individuals willingly, and often eagerly, changed their lives – either by enlisting, taking defense jobs, or dedicating their time and effort to a "greater good" – students need to experience, first hand, the power of positive press. By designing and presenting their own campaign for either recruitment, employment, or victory gardening/rationing, students will gain an understanding of the real power of words and pictures, as well as an appreciation for the incredible difficulty in persuading people to act outside their norms.

The Resources

Links from within the Wessels Living History Farm site. [Note that clicking on these links will open a new browser window. Just close it and you'll be back to this page.] Direct the students to these pages.

Rubrics in PDF format There are three handouts available to help you accompolish this lesson. Note that these handouts are in the Adobe Acobat™ format. You can download the reader here.

The Process

This is a group project. The students should be divided into groups of three to four. Each member of the group is responsible for conducting initial research. In addition, each person in the group must be responsible for one of the following tasks: note-taker, graphic designer, copywriter, "account manager." Each group will receive an "account," that is, a specific target audience and goal for their campaign (teacher assigned). The students will use the resources to research their target audience and the various campaigns employed by the U.S. government during WWII.

The groups must create a presentation portfolio that includes:

  1. A visual display of their campaign (advertisement poster)
  2. An outline of their campaign, including the goal of the campaign and a comprehensive explanation of the aspects of the campaign (who they are targeting, how they chose their artwork/photos, an explanation of their "copy" (slogan, headline, etc.) in the form of a four to six page report.
  3. A one-page handout that provides a list of the specific resources they used to devise their campaign (i.e., which parts of the web pages, who's stories, what photos/reproductions).
  4. A brief (one page) explanation of why they believe their strategy will be effective in achieving the goals of the campaign.
  5. List of each group member's name and the corresponding tasks they were assigned/performed.

During this stage of the project, the students should periodically stop group work and roundtable, as a whole class, their obstacles, concerns, strategies, and solutions. [Students should be guided away from rants against specific persons and toward constructive advice and project-centered issues.]

Each group will present their campaign, with each member of the group responsible for a specific part of the presentation (i.e. explaining the poster, defining the goal, describing the audience, providing the background (what was going on at the time in the war) for their campaign).

Learning Advice

Make sure the students share the workload. The more specifically tasks are assigned, the better products will be. This lesson requires time for students to research, discuss, create, rehearse, and present; therefore, I recommend that this lesson be taught over 2-4 class sessions. (Students should, however, meet outside class as well.)

Conclusion of the Lesson

The posters along with a copy of the 1-page explanation should be placed on display.

Assessment Activity

Each portfolio will be evaluated for content, presentation, and completeness. Each oral presentation will be evaluated for content, preparedness, teamwork, and attentiveness to others. Use the Artwork Assessment Rubric for assessing posters and the Oral Presentation Rubric for assessing the oral presentations.

The students in each group will perform peer evaluations that respond to the questions, "Did you accomplish the tasks assigned? How would you rate your team?"

General Notes

Optimally, the students should be allowed to have a "poster session" where the other classes can be invited to view their work and hear explanations of the campaigns.

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