Lesson Spotlight: Magazine Covers

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Magazine Cover Lesson

"To remain ignorant of history is to remain forever a child." ~Cicero

This lesson requires students to visually represent the decades from 1900-2020. They will pick up a Google slide template that requires students to swap off blank images with images that embody the decades they are representing for the hypothetical magazine covers. It is important that the students do not represent images unrelated to that decade. This might require them to do some research. For instance, if completing the 1910 magazine cover, they wouldn’t put an image of Amelia Earhart flying an airplane since her first flight did not occur until the 1920s. Because the activity might be a bit daunting to be sure that the decades are adequately represented, students could be in groups representing each decade. A fantastic dialogue can occur once the projects are done. Students can become detectives to determine if the magazine covers accurately represent the decade. This activity could result in some serious critical thinking skills. Students could intentionally misrepresent an image on one of the decades to see if their classmates can find the mistake.

Some other creative uses of this activity could be inventions, style, music, entertainment, etc. They could research timelines from a credible source, or use books from the library about time periods. Here are some sites they could use for further research: ThoughtCo; BBC Timeline of United States; Oxfordreference, etc. Students could Google “Timelines of the 20th and 21st Century”. They would need to visit several resources to find 16 events per era. They should learn a lot about topics they were unaware of. For instance, I was doing some research on one of the sites and came across information about The Snyder Act where Native people won citizenship in 1924, but the struggle for voting rights was not guaranteed to Native Americans in every state until 1962.

Another way to get images that represent the era is to type in the year when searching for images on Google. For instance, you could type 1920s in the search and images will pop up. The only problem is the images won’t necessarily represent the time period, which will require further research on the student to be sure they are properly representing the decade. One of the downfalls of this method is the student won’t get much information unless they read about the image. This would be just a visual representation of the decade, which can still be interesting.

I highly encourage teachers to complete at least one decade and modify the lesson for students if necessary to meet the needs of their classroom. While I completed the decade 1920-1929, I learned a lot about that decade. It gave me a general idea about events that occurred during that time. By locating images to complement the different decades, students will have a greater retention rate than if they just took notes on that time period. After completing 1920-1929, I am able to recall historical information by looking at the image because visual literacy is a powerful way to learn.

A video is included on the directions’ page that gives great tips on how to modify keyword searches in order to get the best image to represent the time period. Tips are also given that will give students the tools necessary to be more savvy when it comes to locating information and images. Too often, people will do an image search and not investigate further, resulting in misinformation. A follow up lesson could involve students reflecting on what resonated with them after they complete the assignment. They could do further research on a topic that peaked their interest.

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