Irish Famine - Irish Immigration - Irish Immigrants - Examining Bias in Cartoons

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  • Google Apps™
7 pages, 8 slides
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This lesson generally falls on St. Patrick's Day each year and I love having my students learn about their Irish heritage.  While much of St. Patrick's day involves discussing coloring leprechauns and crafting little leprechaun crafts, I strive to make sure my students critically analyze how far their descendants have come.  

This lesson discusses the history surrounding the Irish famine and Irish immigration, and it also shows the racial bias and mistreatment that existed for Irish immigrants in the 1800s.  The students will learn about bias, and then examine cartoons that depicted the Irish unfairly.  This lesson works great for teaching bias because it seems so obvious to students today.  The lesson includes a handout that teaches students to read cartoons for specific kinds of imagery. 

This lesson plan is linked to NYS Social Studies standards, however, I'm sure you could add standards from your state. 

The zip file included a PDF, a PowerPoint version and a link to a Google Drive version if you'd like to make this project more digital.

Within the zip file:

  • 8 slides - 5 to review Historical Background Questions and 3 with each cartoon
  • 1 page lesson plan
  • 2 page History Background that addresses the Irish famine, immigration, and mistreatment in the U.S
  • 1 page handout explaining Bias in Cartoon Imagery
  • 3 Cartoons for students to analyze 
  • 1 exit ticket - This has students find examples of Exaggeration, Symbolism, and Sarcasm in another cartoon
  • 1 page key for cartoons
  • A Google Slides Digital Version

Check out my other lessons from this era:

Slave Life in the South

The Irish Famine - Seeing Bias Through Imagery

The Women's Rights Movement - A Mini-Play

The Era of Reform Review and Test

The Abolitionists - Part 1

The Abolitionists - Part 2

The Abolitionists - Part 3

The Abolitionists Video Guide

Slave Life in the South Before the Civil War - Stations

The Compromises - The Missouri Compromise, the Compromise of 1850 and the Kansas-Nebraska Act

John Brown's Raid at Harper's Ferry - Martyr or Murderer?

Sectionalism and Events Leading to Civil War Review and Test


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You can find more Social Studies resources, links, and discussion at my blog -

Total Pages
7 pages, 8 slides
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
40 minutes
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.
Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.


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