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August 04

President Barack Obama was born today in 1961.

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President Barack Obama was born today in 1961.

Grades 7 – 12
Calendar Activity Type Historical Figure & Event





Americans made history in 2008 by electing Barack Obama as the nation's first African-American President. In addition to his work as a community organizer and Senator, Obama also wrote two books, Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope, before being elected President of the United States.





In his memoir Dreams from My Father, Obama describes an incident in which he, as a young boy, "came across the picture in Life magazine of the black man who had tried to peel off his skin" (51). Seeing the devastating effect negative messages about being African-American had on this man, Obama "began to notice that [Bill] Cosby never got the girl on I Spy, that the black man on Mission Impossible spent all his time underground. [He] noticed that there was nobody like [him] in the Sears, Roebuck Christmas catalog ... and that Santa was a white man" (52).

Share this passage expressing Obama's experiences with media messages and his understanding of his identity. Then encourage students to engage in an examination of the ways they are portrayed in the media. Point them toward print, online, and television portrayals of people who share their age bracket, race, gender, and any other relevant aspects of their identity.

Adapt activities from the lesson plans below to supplement their research and organize their findings.




  • Media Literacy Defined

    Information and resources from the National Association for Media Literacy Education.


  • Center for Media Literacy

    These resources promote media literacy education as a framework for accessing, analyzing, evaluating, creating, and participating with media content. Visitors will find readings, lesson plans, and samples of student-produced media.


  • A Different World: Children's Perceptions of Race and Class in Media

    This online article presents a summary of recommendations from a study that links young people's understanding of their identity to ways they are portrayed in the media. Included is a link to the full research report.


  • New Mexico Media Literacy Project

    Nationally recognized as a leader in media literacy education, the Media Literacy Project provides resources that promote critical thinking and activism to build healthy and just communities. In addition to teaching and learning resources, visitors will also find information about media-based contests for students.



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Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Critical Media Literacy: TV Programs

By critically analyzing popular television programs, students develop an awareness of the messages that are portrayed through the media.


Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Media Literacy: Examining the World of Television Teens

Pop culture and the classroom collide in this lesson when students go behind the scenes to analyze a television series for characterization to use in an original television show proposal.


Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Critical Media Literacy: Commercial Advertising

By looking at advertising and mass media critically, students begin to understand how the media oppresses certain groups, convinces people to purchase certain products, and influences culture.


Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Comic Makeovers: Examining Race, Class, Ethnicity, and Gender in the Media

Students explore stereotypes in the media and representations of race, class, ethnicity, and gender by analyzing comics over a two-week period and then re-envisioning them with a "comic character makeover."


Grades   6 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Vote for Me! Making Presidential Commercials Using Avatars

After researching political platforms of past presidents through primary sources and other resources, students create commercials for these presidents using Voki, an online web tool that produces speaking avatars.