Whenever I taught this lesson, I started out by telling students it was going to be one of the most memorable assignments they ever completed in school. The reason I could say this with confidence is that I happened to have a nearly-pristine collection of 1930s Popular Science and Popular Mechanics magazines I inherited from my grandpa. The kids really enjoyed the assignment, and it became one of the assignments only my students could ever experience, until now.
If you have a magazine collection from a certain era you teach, this assignment will work. If you don't, first see if you can get your hands on the real thing or Google Books versions. This download DOES NOT INCLUDE ACTUAL MAGAZINES.
I can see this assignment being used in history classes. In fact, it SHOULD be used because magazines are wonderful secondary sources. I used the assignment, employing 1930s magazines (linked to in the download) when we were reading To Kill a Mockingbird and Brave New World. I have included a version I used with seniors while viewing Gattaca that could be used with any science fiction story that promises a better world, or any science fiction story.
Based on what I've described already, you can probably figure most of this out, but I did revise the questions several times, based on what we were trying to find and what students had trouble finding. Included are questions about author intent, audience, race relations, and advertising.
You could teach business, social studies, English, World Languages, and science and easily use this assignment. If you have old National Geographic, Popular Science, Time, or other magazines, this is a perfect assignment. If you're looking to help students understand ANY time period, it works. 90s, 80s, 70s, 60s, 50s, 40s, 30s, 20s, 10s, and beyond.
If you have real magazines, I would let students read for a while before they are forced to work on the assignment. They will appreciate the cool factor of something written before their grandparents were born. The second day was to finish the assignment. Also, students will want to talk to each other. This is not necessarily a bad thing.
This download gives you two versions of the same very popular assignment, so you can use one, the other, or combine both to create an assignment even better than what I ever used.