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Evaluating political ads



Evaluating Political Ads


In this lesson, students are introduced to how political advertisements use free speech and persuasive techniques to motivate voters. Students will evaluate advertisements, consider the ethical dilemmas of using persuasive tactics in political advertising and create their own political advertisements.


  • Students will explore trends in political advertising.
  • Students will identify persuasive techniques in political advertising.
  • Students will evaluate ethical dilemmas and free speech issues in political advertising. 
  • Students will create their own political advertisements.

Common Core State Standard

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.9-10.8Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.2Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.3Analyze how the author unfolds an analysis or series of ideas or events, including the order in which the points are made, how they are introduced and developed, and the connections that are drawn between them.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.4Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language of a court opinion differs from that of a newspaper).


90 minutes (depending on class size

Materials / resource

Slideshow: Political Advertising

Storyboard Assignment Sheet (Copy front to back, and have extras)

Lesson step-by-step

Step 1 — Review political ads and strategies (30 minutes)

Use the slideshow linked above to review political ads and teach strategies commonly found in advertising. There are teacher notes and prompts in the slideshow, and showing the linked ads along with pausing for discussion prompts will likely take around 30 minutes.

Step 2 — Introduce the lesson (5 minutes)

Explain to students that they need to use their knowledge of political advertising to create an idea for their own political ad. You, their teacher, and thinking of running for state senate, and your students should create an ad idea to persuade voters (if you’re really feeling brave, you can let them decide whether they are persuading FOR you or AGAINST you!). 

Step 3— Storyboarding (20 minutes)

Pass out the storyboard assignment sheet to the groups you formed during the discussion and slideshow review. 

Give groups 20 minutes to determine the storyboard for their ad, sketching the scenes and describing the music, mood, lighting, and techniques on the lines below each scene.

Step 4 — Present and assess (5-8 minutes per group)

Groups should present their storyboards. As groups present, instruct them NOT to give away the strategies being used in the ad, just the description of how the ad will flow. 

Students in the audience should take notes of which strategies they identified in each ad as a way to check for understanding.  

Finally, decide as a class which ad will be more persuasive and why.

For past Constitution Day materials, go here.

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