ALEX Learning Activity


Flipping Out Over Cartoons: Rhetorical Analysis of Editorial Cartoons

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  This learning activity provided by:  
Author: Julie Powell
System:Elmore County
School:Elmore County High School
  General Activity Information  
Activity ID: 1881
Flipping Out Over Cartoons: Rhetorical Analysis of Editorial Cartoons
Digital Tool/Resource:
Web Address – URL:

In this learning activity, students will focus on a rhetorical analysis of visual texts to determine an author's purpose and message. First, students will view a video on how to analyze political or editorial cartoons. By identifying and analyzing labels, symbols, exaggeration, irony, analogy, and argument, students will be able to infer the artist's/author's intended message of the editorial cartoon. Then, students will practice analyzing other cartoons with the same process utilizing the tech tool Flipgrid. (from Common Sense Education:  Flipgrid is a website that allows teachers to create "grids" of short discussion-style questions that students respond to through recorded videos. Each grid is effectively a message board where teachers can pose a question and their students can post 90-second video responses that appear in a tiled "grid" display.)

This activity results from the ALEX Resource Gap Project.

  Associated Standards and Objectives  
Content Standard(s):
English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 11
10 ) Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain. [RI.11-12.1]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.11.10- Answer who, what, when, where, and why questions to analyze informational text, using textual evidence and inferences as support.

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 11
15 ) Determine an author's point of view or purpose in a text in which the rhetoric is particularly effective, analyzing how style and content contribute to the power, persuasiveness, or beauty of the text. [RI.11-12.6]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.11.15- Determine the author's point of view and identify parts of the text that helped explain the point of view.

Learning Objectives:

Students will be able to identify and analyze labels, symbols, exaggeration, irony, analogy, and argument in an editorial cartoon in order to determine the author's/artist's point of view, message, and purpose.

Students will use evidence (labels, symbols, exaggeration, and irony) to support their analysis of inferences and argument drawn from the cartoon. 



  Strategies, Preparations and Variations  

1. As a class, the students will view a YouTube video titled "Analyzing Political Cartoons" ( and take notes on the steps the presenter uses to analyze the political cartoon in the video. (The video is approximately 8 minutes as it analyzes both contemporary and historical cartoons; however, teachers may choose to only show the first 5 minutes, which analyzes the contemporary cartoon on steroid use in baseball.)

2. Divide students into groups of two or three. Using online search tools, the students will find an editorial cartoon on a given topic (examples: American Dream, gender inequality, pop culture, the economy, etc.). It is best to tie the topic to a theme you will be studying in class. After students locate an editorial cartoon, the students will analyze the cartoon using the steps learned in the video (labels, symbols, exaggeration, irony, analogy, argument).

3. Then, using Flipgrid (see Advanced Preparation steps), the students will video their analysis of the cartoon. The cartoon should be on camera the entire time. They can circle the various features of the cartoon as they voice-over the analysis (much like the YouTube video but with less detail as they only have 90 seconds). Flipgrid videos can be shared with the whole class or in groups or individually.

Assessment Strategies:

Advanced Preparation:

***Device with internet access and projection capability is needed for the teacher. Devices with internet access are needed for each student group.***

1. Create a FREE Flipgrid account at

2. Create a GRID and title it Flipping Out Over Cartoons (You can only have one grid at a time for free accounts.) For topic details enter the following: In a 90-second video, analyze your cartoon with respect to labels, exaggeration, irony, symbol, analogy, an argument. Be specific. Your cartoon should be showcased in your video the entire time. Circle the elements in your cartoon as you explain them. 

3. Share the grid code with students. Students will not need an account; only the code you give them. This will allow them to access the grid and record their video using a laptop or mobile device (with the Flipgrid app).

More information about getting started on Flipgrid:

Variation Tips (optional):

Depending on time and student level, the teacher may want to pre-select editorial cartoons for students to analyze.

After viewing the video, the teacher may want to practice analyzing a few cartoons as a whole-class to check for understanding before moving into group analysis.

Notes or Recommendations (optional):

This makes a great cross-curricular activity between ELA and history.

  Keywords and Search Tags  
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