Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

The Maine Event

The Role of the Media in the Spanish-American War

Laura Halstied, Dewey Hulsey, Teresa Lansford, Sherry Franklin | Published: August 15th, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 11th
  • Subject Subject Social Studies
  • Course Course U.S. History
  • Time Frame Time Frame 90 minutes
  • Duration More 1-2 periods


This lesson provides an overview of yellow journalism and its impact on the Spanish-American War. Using hands-on activities and discussions, students explore the vocabulary and attributes of yellow journalism. Students also evaluate the field of journalism. Following completion of the lesson, students gain deeper understanding of how yellow journalism began and what part it played in the Spanish-American War.

Essential Question(s)

How much influence does the media have on major events?



Students discuss the purpose of the news.


Students analyze historical front pages of newspapers to look for similarities and differences.


Students explore yellow journalism and its impact on the Spanish-American War by watching a video and creating an Anchor Chart.


Students develop an understanding of the field of journalism through an interview with a reporter.


Students create a sensationalized newspaper front page article about the USS Maine explosion in a yellow journalism style format.


  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • Give, Get, Reflect handout (attached; 1 per student)

  • Yellow Journalism 3-2-1 handout (attached; 1 per student)

  • USS Maine Explosion handout (attached; 1 per 2 students)

  • Poster board or large chart paper

  • Markers

  • Pen/pencil

  • Copy paper (1 per pair of students)


10 Minute(s)

Use the attached Lesson Slides to guide the lesson. Display slide 3 and read the Essential Question: "How much influence does the media have on major events?" Ask students to think of this question throughout class. Move to slide 4 and review the Lesson Objectives with students.

Pass out the attached Give, Get, Reflect handout or have students create a three-columned chart with the labels Give, Get, Reflect. Display slide 5 and introduce students to the Give, Get, Reflect strategy. Move to slide 6 and display the question for students: "What is the purpose of the news?" Ask students to write their thoughts in the first column. Then, tell students to exchange their paper with three students and have them write their thoughts in the other student's Get column. Have students return to their desks and read the responses in their Get column. Then, ask students to write down their thoughts about the question after reviewing other responses in the Reflect column. Directions are on slide 6 as well.

Move to slide 7. Ask for several volunteers to share their thoughts about the purpose of the news and hold a brief class discussion. Ask students to think about the ways in which the news is reported. Consider discussing the following questions:

  • How do news sources grab the attention of their readers?

  • How do people decide to pick one news source over another?


10 Minute(s)

Display slide 8 and place students in pairs. Tell students to examine the two front-page examples of newspapers shown on the next slide and to compare and contrast the two images.

Move to slide 9 and provide time for students to talk with their partners about the similarities and differences between the two images.


25 Minute(s)

Pass out the attached Yellow Journalism 3-2-1 handout and display slide 10. Tell students as they watch a video about yellow journalism, they will look for the information on the handout that is a modification of the 3-2-1 strategy.

Move to slide 11 and show the video to students.

After students have watched the video, provide time for them to finish their Yellow Journalism 3-2-1 handout. Ask students to discuss their responses with a partner.

As a class, discuss the important components of yellow journalism. Tell students that the class is going to create an Anchor Chart together that illustrates the important components of yellow journalism. The Anchor Chart can be displayed in class as a visual reminder of yellow journalism.

Using markers and poster board, as a class, create a title for the Anchor Chart. Display slide 12 and introduce students to the Stand Up, Sit Down strategy. Ask all students to stand up at their desks. Ask for volunteers to share one attribute of yellow journalism they have written down. As students share, write those attributes on the Anchor Chart. Once students have heard all three of the attributes they have written down, ask them to sit down. Continue this process until all students have taken their seats. Review the collaborative Anchor Chart with the class to ensure that all information has been added.


15 Minute(s)

Display slide 13 and tell students that now they are going to watch a video of a news reporter discussing the field of journalism. Play the video for students.

After the video, move to slide 14 and ask students to consider what the POMS: Point of Most Significance is from the video. Have students write down their POMS on the back of their Yellow Journalism 3-2-1 handout. Ask students to share their POMS and have a class discussion about the ways in which Mr. Resendiz makes sure he is reporting accurate news.


30 Minute(s)

Pass out the attached USS Maine Explosion handout. Display slide 15 and provide time for students to read the paragraph about the USS Maine Explosion.

Ask students to work in partners to complete the task. As students are reading, pass out a piece of copy paper to each pair of students. Ask students to create a newspaper front page that reflects the components of yellow journalism. Students should rewrite the paragraph about the USS Maine to be biased and sensationalized. They should also include a large, flashy headline and a prominent illustration. Remind students to refer to the Anchor Chart they collaboratively created as a reminder of what the front page should include.

Collect student's Yellow Journalism 3-2-1 handout and their completed front pages to assess understanding of the lesson content. Consider displaying the front pages in class or have students present them to review the concept of yellow journalism.