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        Recognizing that One Text Can Generate Multiple Interpretations - The Double V

        Students describe in an essay the multiple meanings of the Double V campaign mounted by the Pittsburgh Courier newspaper during World War II.

        Lesson Summary


        Students watch a video segment about African American involvement in World War II. They write an essay explaining the multiple meanings of the Double V campaign mounted by the Pittsburgh Courier newspaper during the war.

        Why is this an important concept?

        As students develop reading skills, they begin to see that a single text can have literal, ambiguous and on occasion, multiple meanings at the same time. Learning to discern when a single text has multiple meanings allows students to apply deeper understanding to complex topics. They are also better positioned to derive pleasure from reading and writing original work that in turn presents multiple meanings.

        Grade Level:


        Suggested Time

        (2-3) 50-minute periods

        Media Resources


        The Lesson

        Part I: Learning Activity #1

        Note: Prior to beginning this lesson you may want to review the significance of "Jim Crow." For more information visit:

        1. Check for prior knowledge by asking students if they have ever heard of Jim Crow. Was he a historical person/figure, or was this a name used to represent an idea or practice? Does the name have multiple interpretations?

        2. Distribute the The Double V Image Graphic Organizer Tell students they are going to watch the first part of a video segment showing footage taken in the United States during World War II. Tell students to take notes on the images they see. Ask students if (through the images) they see any clues about what life was like for African American soldiers and civilians at the time the footage was shot. Play the segment without the volume, and pause when the image of the Booker T Diner appears. You may need to play this first part of the segment multiple times so that students can record the images.

        3. Divide students into small groups and allow them to compare their notes. While still in groups, ask students if they came to any conclusions. What clues did they record?

        Part II: Learning Activity #2

        1. Review the images the students saw in the first part of the lesson, and ask them to share their observations. Discuss with students that when the United States entered into World War II, Jim Crow segregation was condoned in most areas of American life, including housing, jobs, schools, restaurants, movie theaters, hospitals, hotels, all forms of transportation, and in the United States armed forces. Ask students if this is evident in the images from the segment.

        2. Continue by explaining that during World War II The Pittsburgh Courier, one of the most powerful and influential African American newspapers of that time, mounted a campaign as a response to Jim Crow segregation. Tell students they're now going to watch the entire video segment, this time with the volume on. While watching, ask students to identify and describe the two meanings or purposes of the campaign. Play “The Double V."

        3. Take students responses and discuss. Distribute a copy of The Double V Questions Handout to each student. Play the segment as many times as necessary for student comprehension. Students complete the handout in class or for homework.

        For students who need additional guidance:
        • Review the video segment as many times as necessary.
        • Review and discuss the images in the video segment.
        • In small groups, discuss the two meanings of the Double V.

        Part III: Assessment

        1. Ask students if citizens are always in full agreement with their government’s actions. What happens when they are not? Ask for examples and take responses.

        2. Review the video and handouts from the first parts of the lesson. Explain to students that during World War II American citizens overwhelmingly supported the war effort but for African American citizens experiencing Jim Crow segregation, their support had a complicated nature.

        3. Distribute The Double V Essay Handout, and tell students they're going to write an essay that answers the question "How were African Americans able to support the war effort abroad and be critical of the laws affecting them at home at the very same time?"

        4. Review the The Double V Rubric , and let students know that their work on the graphic organizer and handout will also be assessed using the rubric.

        5. Completed essays and handouts can be placed in student folders to show skill acquisition.


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