Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Auspicious Beginnings, I hope

I began the lesson, and the media literacy unit, today in the style of a carnival barker:

Ladies and gentlemen! I have something inside this box that will change your lives. It will blow your mind! 99% of students who used it said their academics improved. If you use this product, your grades will increase. People will like you more. Your life will be better!

[Dramatic Pause]

What do you think is in the box?

The kids went nuts, yelling out what they thought was in there. It was loud but I certainly had their attention!

I asked them what had I just done. Immediately they responded, 'advertise.' I gave them definitions of and we discussed examples of media, advertising, and propaganda.

I quoted from a fascinating book the following ad for an advertising agency: it was a big picture of the president, with these big words: "If you have high ambitions, hire us. He did." Smaller print: "If we can produce advertising that persuades Hispanic Democrats to vote Republican, we can get them to buy your product."

The students were appropriately floored and shocked by this, and I led them in an analysis discussion, reading between the lines and inferring what the agency thinks about consumers.

Their favorite part of the lesson, however, is the homework: Watch television. I gave them the worksheet, the one I posted a while back, for them to keep track of the commercials they see while watching a show tonight.

I can't wait for class tomorrow, when they report and synthesize their findings!


Anonymous said...

Yeah! Go Julie!

I love media mini-units.


Gwennaƫlle said...

All right, the written part of the national competition to become an english teacher is over. Now I have to study for the oral part (if I get to get to this point). It feels like "American Idole".
You gave them as a homework to WATCH TV? LOL they must have loved this one. I like how you talk about the way you teach. I can really feel the pleasure you're taking in your job. Here in France if you'd talk like that you'd sound either stupid or like someone who wants to show off. I realize that I caught this stupid way to look at it before I have even started (if I ever). I am definitely going to keep reading your blog :-)

Nancy said...

this unit is so neat that i want to do your homework assignment! lol. if only i could revert to middle school again!

Jules the Crazy said...

Aw, thank you so much, guys! I really appreciate the blog love. :)

Gwennaelle, congrats on getting halfway through your testing!

They did like this homework assignment, although a lot of them did not understand to write down ALL the commercials they saw. Argh, I hate when students don't listen!

This is cool: for my last class, since they were so chatty and rowdy, I had to stop my intro right after I did the first sentence or two about what's in the box. I abruptly put up the overhead instead and made them copy.

All the rest of the period, and even all today, they BEGGED to know what was in there!

Pretty damn effective advertising, I guess. Sweet!

PS: first it was a pencil, then a piece of paper, then a notebook. Extremely ordinary things that I purposely made sound extraordinary. It's fun; try it sometime!

the reflective teacher said...

Oh man! This sounds awesome!

Congrats on getting their attention and getting them interested.

Advertisement is a wonderful way to get the students thinking, writing, thinking about thinking and thinking about writing.

Your students will do well, I'm sure. Good job!