Commemorative Historical Magazine

By Debbie Babin, November 20, 2007

Grade Level

  • High School


  • Graphic Design

Subject Area

  • Language Arts
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Technology

Lesson Time

Six to eight fifty-minute class periods


In this lesson, students will act as journalists (by using the Internet and other resources) and create a "Commemorative Historical Magazine" based on events leading up to the United States role in WWII. Students will design their magazine and its cover, write articles for the magazine, create a political cartoon, and analyze the design and mission of WWII propaganda posters.

National Standards

Social Studies GLEs: GLE 11: (H-1A-H4) - Have students review the reasons why the U.S. entered WWI. Students should then identify steps that the U.S. took to try to keep out of another world war. GLE: 38, 39  (H-1B-H13) - Have students use their articles on Germany, Italy, and Japan to compare the political systems in these countries at the beginning of World War II with the political system in the United States. GLE 14:  (H-1A-H4) - Have students create political cartoons in which they depict dictators (Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler, Franco, Hirohito/Tojo). Cartoons should depict the ambitions and acts of aggression of these dictators. Post these cartoons in their "Commemorative Historical Design Magazine."
GLE 40: (H-1B-H13) - Describe the course of World War II, including major turning points and key strategic decisions.  Include in the posting of articles information dealing with Pearl Harbor, Midway, Okinawa, Normandy, Hiroshima and Nagasaki in their "Commemorative Historical Design Magazine." GLE 41: (H-1B-H13) - Describe the effects and the aftermath of World War II on the U.S. home front and Europe, including the Holocaust.
English GLEs: GLE  4: (ELA-1-H4) - Evaluate ways in which the main idea, rationale or thesis, and information in complex texts and historical documents, represent a view or comment on life GLE 5: (ELA-6-H1) - Analyze and critique the impact of historical periods, diverse ethnic groups, and major influences (e.g., philosophical, political, religious, ethical, social) in world literature in written responses Technology GLE: GLE 9: (H-1A-H3) - secondary resources using Internet Science GLEs: GLE 14:  (SI-H-B3) - Cite examples of advances and emerging technologies and how they affect society GLE 13: (PS-H-B2) - Evaluate the uses and effects of radioactivity in people's daily lives

Common Core Standards

Anchors for Reading:

Key Ideas and Details:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.3 Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

Craft and Structure:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.4 Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.5 Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.6 Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.9 Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity:


Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

Anchor Standards for Writing:

Text Types and Purposes1:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details and well-structured event sequences.

Production and Distribution of Writing:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.

Research to Build and Present Knowledge:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Range of Writing:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Anchor standards for Speaking and Listening:

Comprehension and Collaboration:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.3 Evaluate a speaker's point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.5 Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

Anchor standards for Language:

Conventions of Standard English:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

Knowledge of Language:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.3 Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening

Vocabulary Acquisition and Use:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.6 Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.


Students will:
  • summarize events that brought the United States into armed conflict with Germany and characterize America's response to the Japanese's attack on Pearl Harbor
  • explain how the United States expanded its armed forces in response to America's entry into WWII
  • describe wartime mobilization of industry, labor, scientists, and media prior and during WWII
  • summarize the Allies' plans for winning WWII
  • identify events in the two theaters of WWII: Europe & the Pacific
  • make connections between WWII and other wars
  • use the Internet and library to research
  • write eight articles about World War II for their magazine
  • design a magazine’s layout and color
  • analyze how graphic design is employed in propaganda posters


United Streaming: Video Choices from WWII Library resources Historical political poetry & music Video clips from Pearl Harbor, Documentary on Hitler, & Saving Private Ryan Internet Web sites: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum WWII collections of information, ideas, simulations and activities: Chip Kidd Internet sites:


  • Computer
  • Markers
  • Graphite Drafting Pencils
  • Paper
  • Printer
  • Colored Ink


  • dictatorship: autocratic rule, control, or leadership
  • totalitarianism: centralized control by an autocratic authority; the political concept that the citizen should be totally subject to an absolute state authority
  • fascism: a political philosophy that exalts nation and often race above the individual
  • Nazism: the political and economic doctrines put into effect by the Nazis in Germany, 1933 to 1945, including the totalitarian principle of government, and the predominance of Germanic groups assumed to be racially superior
  • appeasement: a state of peace
  • blitzkrieg: war conducted with great speed and force
  • genocide: the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group
  • kamikaze: a member of a Japanese air attack corps in World War II assigned to make a suicidal crash on a target; having or showing reckless disregard for safety or personal welfare
  • United Nations: an international organization formed after World War II to preserve peace; nearly 200 nations are members
  • Manhattan Project: the code name for the secret American effort to build an atomic bomb in collaboration with Great Britain; the project was spearheaded by physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer


Initial prompt: 1)  Ask students to imagine that they are journalists and have been given an assignment by a publisher to create a commemorative magazine looking back at WWII. Teacher presentation and motivation: 1)  Before embarking on this project, you may want to view segments from United Streaming to enhance student interest and knowledge of the subject matter. A field trip a museum with an exhibit on WWII or D-Day Museum would be helpful so that students could view artifacts and read primary sources from the men in the field such as letters and journals. Step-by-step process of the activity: 1) Pass out copies of different current magazines reflecting historical topics to the students. Have students look through the magazines and notice similarities and differences between each. Encourage students to look at what is included in the magazines, how the pages are layed out, and how the design of the magazine is consistent throughout. 2) Students will begin by designing the cover page for their magazine. The cover should have a catchy title and the featured articles. Discuss the different cover designs of the available magazines students have been looking at. Note how magazine covers are different depending on topic and audience (for example, the Time magazine cover looks very different from People magazine or Nickelodeon Magazine). Discuss why these designs are different (i.e. Time magazine has a much more formal standard cover due to the formal, serious material. Nickelodeon Magazine has bright, florescent colors to attract kids. People magazine has several large color photos of celebrities because it features several articles, rather than a main feature). 3) Introduce the students to the work of book cover designer Chip Kidd. Book and magazine cover design are both important design fields. Students should be aware that the design of their magazine cover sends a message about the content inside. They should decide who their audience is and create a design that will entice their audience to look inside the magazine. The cover should clearly indicate the theme of the magazine, along with the information inside. 4) Have students create the cover design for their magazine. a) Students may use the Internet for images b) Students may draw c) Students may create a collage 5) Next, students will investigate the hyperlinks mentioned under resources. Using one of the timelines from these sites, students will select 8 key events to feature in their coverage of WWII. 6) For each event featured in the magazine, students will find one visual photograph or map that encapsulates or illustrates the event. a) Students will include the image in the article and will write an effective caption. b) This section should be written in the past tense, because students are looking back on each event. c) Remind students to include information indicating what happened, where it happened, and when it happened. d) Students must include the significance of this event. 7) In addition to writing about the 8 events, students will create their own political cartoon dealing with the U.S. foreign policy of isolationism following WWII. They must use their research as a basis for what they depict in their cartoon. 8) Students will view American and German propaganda posters to be used in the edition. When looking at the propaganda posters, they should notice the design and graphics created for the posters. What about the graphics, the lay out, and the design make the posters effective? How did the designers employ graphics to convey their message? Is it effective? a) Students will choose 3 German and 3 American propaganda posters. b) Students will then write a title for each propaganda poster. c) Students will include two or three sentences analyzing the propaganda message of the poster and how the poster appeals to its intended audience. Wrap-Up:
1) Students will create a word puzzle with vocabulary terms from the WWII era and may use to complete this section. 2) Finally, students will organize a Table of Contents that will provide readers with the location of all items within the magazine. 3) When the students are compiling all of the pieces of the magazine, they should be aware of the layout of each page. Their design should be consistent throughout the magazine. Each page should flow to the next one. The themes they use for the cover should be represented throughout their magazine.


Rubric for their "Commemorative Historical Magazine"
  • Design for the magazine and the magazine cover: 20 points
  • Content and writing of the eight articles: 30 points
  • Political Cartoon reflecting United States Isolationism: 10 points
  • Propaganda Illustrations: 10 points
  • Vocabulary Puzzle (i.e. Word Scramble, Crossword, etc.): 10 points
  • Bibliography: 10 points
  • Overall design of the magazine: 10 points

Enrichment Extension Activities

  • "Pair and Share" teaching technique where students will read, collaborate, and critique their peers' work.
  • Invite a guest speaker come to speak to students about their experiences in more current wars or skirmishes (i.e. Vietnam, Panama, Desert Storm, etc.).
  • Invite a guest speaker that works for a magazine, or is a magazine layout designer, to speak to the class. Cooperative learning groups will collaborate and discuss their findings from their commemorative magazine editions and information learned from the guest speaker.

Teacher Reflection

Students were able to investigate using many resources instead of needing a teacher to lecture. They successfully shared their findings with peers to learn more widely focused objectives. They successfully shared ideas and were able to learn from their community and relate it to everyday life. The students needed to revisit computer technology skills and more time needed to be spent on designing a magazine. In the future, I would invite a guest speaker at the beginning and the end of the project to enhance student understanding and make them more enthusiastic to learn

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