Lesson Plan 1
Key Question: What are consumerism, consumer culture, and a consumer citizen? Why is the universe of obligation an idea that is particularly powerful in consumer politics?
Lesson Goals: 1) Students will define consumerism, consumer culture, and consumer citizens; 2) Students will evaluate the universe of obligation in respect to voting rights and consumer rights
Homework: Read "Landon in a Landslide: The Poll that Changed Polling" found using a Google search. Use your textbook to create a definition of a scientific poll and a straw poll.
The lesson will begin with a short lesson on the universe of obligation. The students will work through a development of a universe of obligation that begins with an examination of a song like Kanye West's "Diamonds of Sierra Leone", a song based on the problems with blood diamonds in Africa. The activity will ask students to consider the lyrics as well as their individual obligations to citizens of Africa. Should they buy diamonds that have not been legally obtained? Do the people working and dying to mine the diamonds fall into their individual universe of obligation? The reason for an activity like this is that the universe of obligation is the focal point of developing voting responsibility.
Following this, we will develop a list of items that people consume daily. The list will be subdivided into categories such as economic, political, social or other. The purpose of developing a list like this is to qualify consumerism and consumer culture in our society. So often people overlook how the things they buy or do not buy make them consumers. More so, they probably do not consider the candidates they will vote for to be products nor do they realize that government policies exist to protect them as consumers and the people they elect may choose to expand or contract these rights. All of these ideas interrelate to create a definition of a consumer citizen of politics that can expand to include the recognition of the powers that organized groups can hold in America.
The stage is set for students to begin integrating their understanding of consumerism to the changes that have happened in the political system over time. This is one opportunity to link the concepts of consumerism and voting. The students will be asked to think about two scenarios that happen. They are cause-effect scenarios that have people choosing to vote or not, and the subsequent effects of their choice. (see Appendix A). These scenarios should require some role-playing as students will begin the process of questioning whom they are responsible for thinking about as consumer citizens. Ultimately, this type of work will build the theoretical basis for developing a political universe of obligation of voters. Students will not be expected to connect consumerism to voting obligation after today, but they should understand the elected candidate's influence on them. This lesson will also set the stage for analysis of the 1936 election, a pivotal point changing how consumers approach elections. In the process, we have also established definitions for consumption, consumer culture, and began to create one for a consumer citizen. This day should establish the tone for connecting voting responsibility to political consumerism.
Assessment for Understanding: Exit Ticket will be for students to define the consumerism, consumer culture, consumer citizen, and universe of obligation.
Lesson Plan 2
Key Question: What can the 1936 election teach us about opinion polling?
Lesson Goals: 1) Identify the pros and cons associated with straw and scientific opinion polling; 2) Analyze the 1936 election polling organizations to understand the implications on consumption
Homework: Browse the website www.fivethirtyeight.com. Choose an opinion poll, identify two positives and two negatives about polling.
The lesson of this class will focus in on the 1936 Presidential Election as a case study. The Do Now for the class will have two purposes; one is to inform students about the 1936 election candidates and the buildup in a historical sense. The second is for students to answer a question about the importance of opinion polling in the consumer driven society. After a short discussion on that, the class will move on to the major focus the 1936 election.
The historical background on the event is as follows. As Roosevelt is seeking re-election in 1936, the magazine Literary Digest, introduces its annual President poll. Throughout the existence of the magazine s publication, it had correctly called each election since 1916 by conducting social science surveys as a predictor of the will of the people. It is interesting to note that the magazine acknowledges within the article that the polls they conduct are straw polls, or informal polls; yet they publish this article with an air of certainty, though readers later found out are polls skewed by the participants, who are mostly affluent individuals. The poll ends disastrously for Literary Digest as they predict a landslide in Alfred Landon's favor, but the final voting favors FDR, with his taking 60% of the popular vote. Ultimately, the goal is for students to recognize that scientific polling is more reliable than straw polling and that each has strengths and weakness.
Since the introduction to the lesson focuses on opinion polls, it is only fitting that we read about the 1936 Presidential election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Students will begin by taking out their homework, which is the Literary Digest article, and the class will discuss the questions that students have answered in conjunction with reading the article. (Appendix B) They will use this case study as a starting point for identifying what the difference is between a straw poll, one that is not sampled properly, and a scientific poll, which uses quota sampling that assigns weights to the different types of voters who may or may not participate in an election. The reasoning behind using this poll is because of the errors that Literary Digest committed. Ultimately, this election is the first to turn polling into as much science as art. This is true because in the same year Gallup Polls, founded by George Gallup, very nearly predicted the election accurately. Pollsters and politicians found themselves at a crossroads: accurate polling was now looking to be indispensable. The methods of determining an accurate poll were proving to be important, as were bias and process. Students will read a selected piece that will highlight the history of the two types of polls.
Once the class has established a pros-and-cons list for the Literary Digest poll, they will be broken into two reading groups: one, about the history of Gallup polls, and the other reading about the failures of the Literary Digest poll. One example that could be used for the second reading is the work by Peverill Squire called "Why the 1936 Literary Digest Poll Failed".
Squire's piece could be considered here because it is written through the eyes of a historian. Meanwhile, Gallup Poll's website is a great place to begin searching for some history on the organization. In particular, something that is interesting to look at is the success of Gallup polls surrounding presidential elections.
By the conclusion of this task, students should be able to clearly identify the pros and cons of the scientific and straw polling cases presented before them, the examples being the 1936 Literary Digest poll and Gallup polls.
After the conclusion of this task, the major assignment will be introduced. One aspect of the major assignment will be to create an opinion poll and conduct polling (see Appendix C), which will serve as a demonstration of students' understanding of the techniques of polling, how it works, and its relationship with consumption.
Assessment for Understanding: Exit Ticket: Write 3 questions for your group that your group intends to use to poll your classmates. These questions should help you tailor your advertisement in ways that a politician may have used in 1936, 1960 or 2008. This also can serve as a moment to preview the upcoming cases that will be explored during class.
Lesson Plan 3
Key Question: How does radio and Franklin D. Roosevelt's fireside chats signify a change in political consumer culture in 1936?
Lesson Goals: 2) Analyze the importance and messages of fireside chats
Homework: Predict three changes that happen in politics as the U.S. moves from the medium of transmitting information via radio to the medium of transmitting information via television.
The lesson itself is a brief jump into the history of radio as well as a chance to listen to a Franklin D. Roosevelt fireside chat. It is a chance to establish the political consumer culture of the radio, the consumer culture and economy being embedded in society by FDR, and the beginning of the creation of a consumer citizen.
The Do Now will begin with the students completing a text-on-text activity where they examine selected quotes and photographs about the immersion of radio into popular culture. The point of this activity is too see and read some of the ideas and changes that radio causes in American society.
From this list, the students will then move into an examination of a Roosevelt fireside chat.
The students can look at the fireside chat itself using a couple of methods. The first suggestion would be for the students to look at a larger piece of one speech. The selected piece should include specific discussion about the specific programs that the government created to help put money in the hands of the consumer. In essence, this becomes the government's style of creating a consumer. Roosevelt frequently discussed his programs within his chats. The other way could be to pick 3 5 selected clips from various speeches that all discuss the consumer. Subsequently, students will answer questions that extrapolate the importance that Roosevelt puts on the consumer in this context. Within that frame, the class will reference the definitions they have created about consumer culture, consumerism, and consumer citizen.
Today will be the first day that we will begin developing a definition of the consumer citizen that will be iterative as the class progresses through the unit. The idea is to associate 1936 with a changing consumer culture. This should allow the class to think about the idea of citizenship through the idea of a consumer citizen: again, someone who negotiates the consumerism ideology while regaining their moral compass to social justice. Obviously, in this case, as the teacher, you must be prepared for a variety of philosophies to be elicited from the group.
Assessment for Understanding: Each student will write a definition for the consumer citizen and five will be asked to share with the class. The whole class will come up with the first definition of an engaged consumer citizen based on the five that share. This definition will be centered around a universe of obligation that each person should feel personally responsible for contributing towards as a voter.
Lesson Plan 4
Key Question: Who are image-makers and how do they change the consumer culture of politics?
Lesson Goals: 1) Students will identify the history of the television as an item of consumption; 2) Students will analyze the role of the image-maker in the creation of the ideal politician
Homework: Look up the Kennedy-Nixon debates online and list three reasons that Kennedy and Nixon seem like good or bad candidates.
This lesson will focus on how John F. Kennedy's political consultants and marketers framed his image in conjunction with the consumerization of television. Kennedy is a performer, influenced by both television and his consultants. While FDR had placed consumers more firmly in control of their future, JFK elevated the presidential election to not only more consumable with radio and television, but also a process that had many different actors influencing the voter. FDR has created programs for the consumer to gain strength as well as revitalized and moved the economy to consider the importance of the people as spenders. Kennedy takes that further by pushing all voters to have the opportunity to select the best product along with image-makers creating a product that they believe is best suited for consumers to select.
The Do Now will be for students to receive a timeline on the history of television that includes the timeframe between 1935 and 1965. Students will identify five events that they feel are meaningful and influential towards television's becoming a big business. The purpose of an activity like this is for students to receive a short historical introduction to the television that provides basis for the development of television within a consumer culture. It also will serve well to connect radio to television. At the same time, the polling process will be a significant factor here because of the image-makers and opinion polls, which students will have begun to explore earlier in the unit.
The image-makers and political consultants themselves are rather fascinating within the context of the consumer. Nevertheless, what is the image-maker and why do politicians need them? Within this context, students will read a piece that discusses some of the failures of Kennedy as the president. The purpose of students engaging in this task is to provide them the opportunity to reflect on the parallels between how JFK was perceived in history and some factual events that make him more human. Appendix D provides some suggested questions to spark a small discussion among the class. Students will come up with a list of things that they believe embodies the best politicians and if time permits they could watch a clip from a movie such as Sidney Lumet's "Power" (1986), Robert Drew's documentary "Primary (1960), or some of the commercials from the 1960 election through the website www.livingroomcandidate.org.
After image-makers have been discussed, the class will revisit the idea of opinion polling and begin examining some present cases through the website www.fivethirtyeight.com, to begin to analyze two more cases of opinion polling. The class should begin to build an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the process. At this point, they will begin practicing the process of polling to be used in their final project by writing 3 5 questions that are unbiased. After the groups do this, they will share as a class, and the class will discuss good questions and poor questions. In the end of this process, they will select a few questions that they plan to use to conduct polling, albeit a straw poll in style for the sake of time.
The synthesis of this lesson is that the stage has been set to understand how the consumer citizen has changed between 1936 and 1960. In particular, it will utilize Kennedy's use of television and political consultants and how the political consumer relationship to politicians has grown more intricate.
Assessment for Understanding: Exit Ticket If you were running for president, what strengths would an image-maker and political consultant accentuate about you? What weaknesses would they ignore about you?
Lesson Plan 5
Key Question: How does the 1960 election signify a change in political consumer culture?
Lesson Goals: 1) Identify the consumer culture technology shift and its connection to consumer politics 2) Analyze the 1960 election as a case study for the continued consumerization of politics
Homework: List five ways that peoples' lives have changed with the invention of social networking websites
The election of JFK can be viewed as a challenge to the universe of obligation because of the values that he represents; he suggests putting country before self, but at the same time it has to be questioned whether he put country before self in his campaign marketing strategies, which further the consumerization of politics in America. With this in mind, this lesson is ultimately a chance to drive home some important points about history, about JFK, and about the role of television in changing how politics is consumed. More importantly, it should challenge whether Kennedy embraced the universe of obligation for voting, as his rhetoric suggests, or if he used the universe of obligation to fulfill a short-term goal of his own.
The Do Now will ask students to journal on JFK's famous inaugural address quote "ask not what your country can do ask what you can do for your country". The reasoning behind choosing this is a logical tension exists between a political process that encourages a passive, consumerist view of what voting is and a campaign platform that calls upon voters to envision a universe of political obligation. While examining this question, students can be asked to discuss how their universe of obligation has changed in light of examining the 1936 election. Additionally, they should discuss Kennedy's quotes and implications on the universe of obligation for voters in the 1960s. This compare-and-contrast is a great way for students to contextualize the changes in the consumer culture of politics between 1936 and 1960, or at least the government demands on the consumer.
The lesson will move towards the idea of how image-makers shaped JFK himself. First, the students will watch a political advertisement from 1960 that is a jingle about JFK.
It is a well-known advertisement that portrays Kennedy as a family man, as a leader, as an equa-rights supporter, and as the candidate to shape America for the future. It leaves the viewer feeling as if Kennedy is almost immortal. The stage has thus been set to discuss image-makers. The image of Kennedy in that advertisement plays to his strengths in some ways, but also develops strengths that the people of the time wanted from a leader vigor, photogenic, social democrat, civil rights activist, family man. It is a great example of some of the power that image-makers had in portraying politicians in different ways to convince the voter how to consume/vote.
This ideal will only be furthered by watching a clip of the JFK- Richard Nixon debates in 1960.
A search engine will help them locate some videos of the debates. The debates are interesting because some say that while Nixon may have won by speech alone, Kennedy's ability to portray something visually endearing helped sway many undecided voters to him. At the conclusion of these debates, Kennedy should be juxtaposed as a person in the middle of the dawning of the age of television. On one hand, he is this charismatic figure that Americans love; on the other, he has reached this status because of his campaign marketers and polls. The result is a clear tension in the political process that in an idealized way is being asked by Kennedy to meet its obligations for the people while they do the same for the country. Appendix E gives some suggested questions for students to think about as they watch a 10 15 minute clip on the Kennedy-Nixon debates.
At this point, it is time for students to reflect again on the obligations, rights, and responsibilities of the consumer citizen. They will develop a new definition about the consumer citizen in similar way to previous classes. At the conclusion of the unit, the students will compare the changing definition, as they have learned history, to synthesize a conclusion about the consumer citizen today. The consumer citizen should begin taking shape as someone who votes not merely for themselves, but for their universe of obligation. Therefore, students should be asking some questions about how they can influence politics.
Assessment for Understanding: Each student will write a definition for the consumer citizen and five will be asked to share with the class. The whole class will come up with the first definition of an engaged consumer citizen based on the five that share.
Lesson Plan 6
Key Question: How do election posters and social networking change how we consume politics in 2010?
Lesson Goals: 1) Understand the history of social networking 2) Analyze the role of election posters and social networking in the 2008 election
Homework: Complete the discussion guiding questions in preparation for the teacherless discussion
This lesson will be the last case study; it will focus on the history of social networking. We also will take a brief peek at elections posters and how they impact the consumer culture. The Do Now will involve students sharing how they believe social networking has changed the world they reside in today. In the process, they will gain an understanding of the powers of social networking.
Following the Do Now, students will read a short history of social networking. Since social networking websites are so entrenched, especially with the youth today, it is important to detail to the students that social networking was preceded by the internet and for them to consider how drastically it has changed the landscape. At this point, students will examine and think about how Obama's campaign used social networking techniques to alter the political landscape. Recent research efforts indicate the number of young voters is growing and it could be attributed to efforts like this, which speak to the youth. The class will be designed around students creating a Facebook page, written version, which appeals to the common voter today. They will have to take the consumer-driven political model into account, which will feed into the role of political marketers as the students will be required to think about what an ideal politician "looks", "acts", and "behaves" like. The point of this activity is to have students consider the powers of social media networking websites.
The last part of the class will involve election posters. Students will be asked to participate in some text-on-text activities with election posters. The students have another chance to think about how artwork creates an image of people that the public consumes. An obvious choice for an election poster could be Shepard Fairey's "Hope" poster. The image he created was from a Daily News photo and he himself rose from a graffiti artist whose work appeared on public buildings. His poster therefore has the feel of a grassroots message that came from the people for the people. However, as an educator there are hundreds of election posters to choose from. Any internet search with the Presidential candidate and the year should uncover some excellent examples that can be isolated from the consumer standpoint.
The selected presidential case studies should enable students to appreciate and better understand the link between consumption and politics. Students will have definitions that firmly identify consumer culture, consumer economy, and the consumer citizen. The lessons of consumption, both visible and invisible, should set the stage for the final lesson, a group discussion and, subsequently, the creation of an advertisement to appeal to a consumer-driven world.
Assessment for Understanding: Each student will write a definition for the consumer citizen and five will be asked to share theirs with the class. The whole class will come up with the first definition of an engaged consumer citizen based on the five that share.
Lesson Plan 7
Key Question: What is an individual's political universe of obligation in the United States? What can I do to influence politics as a engaged consumer citizen?
Lesson Goals: 1) Students will synthesize American presidential elections and consumer politics in a teacherless discussion
This lesson will follow a seminar discussion format, which is called a teacherless discussion. The setup for this lesson is seen in Appendix F and the students are expected to do some preparation outside of class to participate. This culminating activity is meant to be graded much as a test would be. It requires a teacher to take diligent notes and is fruitful in measuring where the students are in their understanding on the content. This should be coupled in an 85-minute class with a summary writing activity that includes the student's reflections and thoughts on the topic. A suggested way to have them write would be for them to write a five-paragraph essay that answers one of the essential questions of the unit.
Assessments for understanding: Discussion and summative essay answering essential questions.