external image clip_image001.png Ms. Aggie’s Silver Team!!!
Week 1 Lessons
(Room 314, Grade Level 5)

Day I – Monday July 6

Time Needed: 3 Hours

Students collectively gather to share their experiences with media technologies, to chart a direction for the course, and to explore the various meanings of “media” in our lives.

Learning Objective:
  • Get to know one another
  • Start to feel as part of a community in the classroom
  • Begin to think about (and notice) what media is and how it impacts our lives.

Materials Needed
  • Computer and projector
  • Composition books/journals
  • Various media items (t-shirt, starbuck’s cup, apple, magazine, book, ipod, etc.)

1) Introductions: Your name? What do you like to do? What is your favorite piece of technology and why? What’s playing on your iPod? What was best piece of media you’ve interacted with over the past few weeks? Teacher also introduces her/himself
2) Rules of the classroom; begin to think about what we will be called; and let them know that we’ll be presenting skits on Thursday (July 9) at community event in multipurpose room
3) Introduce that we as a class are concerned with media and technology. But first we need to know what media is. To learn, play John Landis’ “what is media game” – items spread out around room and students have to identify what is media and what is not.
a. Point out that media is anything that communicates a message and our job in this classroom is to leran to take control of media before it takes control of us
b. If there is time, show episode from Saved by the Bell (Season 1, Episode 14, “the Zack Tapes” which is about subliminal messaging).
c. Talk to the students about the episode and about how our job in the classroom is to become less easily influenced by such messages. To become more active consumers (define consumers)
4) Write individual and collective mission statement for the class
5) Assign as “homework”: , as you’re going home and at home, pay plenty of attention to all the media that’s all around you and then tomorrow we will journal about it and discuss.

Student Self-Assessment
  • I can recognize various media forms
  • I do feel a part of the community in our classroom
  • I commit to holding up my weight in the classroom and leading us towards our collective mission

Notes upon having implemented Lesson Plan
The "what communicates" activity took far less time than 3 hours, maybe 20 minutes. Also, I had changed lesson plan to include more detail, to include a discussion of PIE (three purposes of media messages), but the students were not really that interested in the game. I also included in our intro to who we are portion an intro to class rules and how we want to be a part of the team.
Writing individual mission statements was also not as compelling as I thought it would be and so we didn't end up writing collective missions statements. The individual missions just helped me to get a sense of what the students are interested in.
What Is Media game also raised some questions I didn't know how to appropriately answer - such as, is a chair media since it communicates the message of "sit on me"?!!
The students were excited to tally votes in the "What Is Media Game?" They are obviously ready to dive into activities and production.

Day 2 – Tuesday July 7
Time Needed: 3 hours
Students learn about the persuasive power of advertisements and media through exploring food commercials and food advertising, all moving towards producing their own advertisements.

Learning Objective:
  • Learn to read advertisements a bit more critically, understanding their target audience, the techniques they use to appeal to our senses, and the means to which they go to hide their constructed nature

Materials Needed
  • Computer and projector
  • Cereal, milk, bowl, and spoon
  • McDonald’s hamburger
  • Magazines (with food advertisements)

1) Remind ourselves about what we learned the day before
2) If we had collaged, talk about the collages and how they reflect our personalities – discuss what they COMMUNICATE
3) Saved by the Bell episode
a. episode from Saved by the Bell (Season 1, Episode 14, “the Zack Tapes” which is about subliminal messaging).
b. Talk to the students about the episode and about how our job in the classroom is to become less easily influenced by such messages. To become more active consumers (define consumers)
c. Our job is to become media LITERATE which means that we are aware of the messages that are all around us and we know what those messages are trying to get us to do believe in or like
4) Define the difference between subliminal advertising and persuasive advertising
5) Teacher introduces 2 different cereal boxes, one geared towards children and one “more healthy” box. Ask the students: which would you rather buy? Why? What techniques are used to grab your attention?
a. Conduct blind taste test with the students – have them taste each cereal with eyes closed and describe what each tastes like and which they like better. How would they design the cereal box if they were representing how it tasets?
6) Give students magazines. Ask them to find appealing food ads in the mags. Then as a class come back together and discuss the ads and what makes the food appealing.
7) Watch McDonald’s commercial and then watch Frank Baker’s “buy me that” about how burger commercials are designed: http://www.frankwbaker.com/food_ad_tricks.htm
a. Ask the questions on baker website: how do you feel now about food commercials? Is this subliminal advertising? Is it deceptive? Should TV commercials disclose when they’ve altered a product? Why have we never heard of food stylists before?
8) If there is time, talk about how media messages can also inform and entertain, not just be used to persuade.
9) “Homework” – notice the ads you walk by or see on TV. What techniques do they use to grab your attention? We’ll journal about these tomorrow.

Student Self-Assessment
  • I can understand that advertisements are constructed and use various techniques to draw our attention
  • I can think a bit more when I make certain food choices – am I being swayed by the packaging or by the content?
  • I can identify the three different types of media messages (messages that inform, entertain, or persuade)

Notes upon having implemented lesson plan:
Because the students have been so excited about their letter to the news, we did not follow this lesson plan at all. We did start off lunch with a "blind taste test" in which students closed their eyes and ate from a fruity pebbles bowl and from a banana nut crunch bowl, but they preferred the fruity pebbles and I have not yet begun to work on deconstructing the cereal boxes with them yet. But I will and I think that our work in deconstructing news headlines and layouts might help in analyzing cereal boxes b/c some of the questions are the same (who is this geared to? what techniques are used to draw your attention?) I hope to implement this lesson plan on Thursday July 9.

I finally implemented a large portion of this lesson beginning on Wednesday July 15. On Wednesday, we watched the Saved by the Bell episode, which was a great way to get them seated and attentive. They did not quite catch on to the idea of "subliminal advertising" as discussed in the episode, but we did use the episode as a way of discussing persuasion. I was trying to get them to see that messages can be "hidden" even if they are not subliminal - they can be right before our eyes but we just don't know how to read them. But I had a hard time explaining that to them. I am just hoping that seeing the episode helped them to see that subliminal advertising exists, which is something I never knew before I saw that show when I was young.
Then, that same day, I pulled out the cereal boxes that had contained the cereal we used in our taste test a week or so ago. Now, looking back, I would have done as the lesson plan dictated and done the taste test the same day of the activity. Instead, I had done the taste test last week and picked the lesson back up today. Also, the adult cereal selected should be tasty but not too flavorful. I'd selected a banana nut thing but the students were too turned off by the banana flavor to know whether they liked the cereal or not. And another difficulty in the taste test is that they will be familiar with the kid flavors, so if there is an obscure kid flavor out there, that woudl be good, something like comparing Kix to Kashi peanut butter puffs. That would be good. I went with banana nut crunch and fruity pebbles. While these cereals were not the most effective to use in the taste test, they were ideal for the box analysis.
I showed the students the Fruity Pebbles box and asked them to begin listing the techniques that were used to draw our attention. They noted things like - color, use of Fred Flinstone as a character, games, toys included in the box, lots of activity. And then we did the same for the Banana box. I asked them which audiences these were intended for and how they knew, and they correctly identified FP as a children's cereal and BNC as an adult cereal, because, they said, the Fruity Pebbles box emphasized fun and sugar while the BNC box emphasized good health and showed images of the ingredients to emphasize that point about health.
Then, I divided the students up into a few groups, gave them a couple of magazines each, and had them look for 3 food advertisements in the ad, tear them out, and be prepared to talk about why those ads drew their attention and what was efffective about the ads. Once they'd selected their ads, each group presented their findings to the class. I again made sure to draw their attention to issues of audience and emphasis.
The next day, my teaching assistant, Miss Shantelle, led the class discussion. We showed the students a variety of cereal commercials, for Trix, Cocoa Puffs, and Special K (that is, we showed them cereal commercials aimed at adults and aimed at youth). Again, we listed the techniques used to draw our attention and we talked about audience, how we know that those pieces are aimed at that audience, and what time of day we might see those commercials on air. We compared the differences between the techniques used to draw children's attention and adults.
This discussion also led to a discussion about branding and the difference between brand name and generic cereals. In the future, if I were to do this activity again, I would have prepared a box of generic and a box of brand cereal to show the students that the flavors are hardly distinguishable. We also talked about how items are placed within grocery stores to draw our attention - top shelf versus lower shelf, how as an advertiser and marketer, your job is to sell your proudct so you will do whatever it takes to do so, even down to the detail of item placement. We also talked about the importance of brand recognition. The students had interesting questions, such as, "Why do they use slogans?" or "Why do things like McDonald's have to use something like Ronald McDonald?"
I think today, since they had that question, I might try to show a clip from Super Size Me where Morgan Spurlock does the experiment with youth to show that they have more recognition of Ronald McDonald than they do of the President.
And today, to culminate the lesson, the students will be broken up into groups and asked to create a commercial of their own for cereal - one for a magazine, one for TV, one for children and one for adults.
Day 3 – Wednesday July 8**

Time Needed: 2 hours

Students continue to explore persuasive advertising and learn about informative and entertaining advertising as well.

Learning Objective:
  • Students learn to distinguish between informative, entertaining, and persuasive media messages, while also understanding that they may overlap at times
  • Students learn to create messages according to one of these purposes

Materials Needed
  • Computer and projector
  • Cereal boxes
  • Genre game cards
  • Markers, construction paper, scissors, glue, and various props as needed

1) Journal about media messages they encountered the evening before
2) Discuss journals and recap persuasive ad lesson of the day before
3) Review that messages can also “inform” and “entertain” – define these terms
4) Play genre game, using categories of “persuade, inform and entertain”
a. Discuss the students’ answers and the differences between these cateagories
5) Divide the class up into three groups. Each group given one purpose (P, I, E).
a. Each student also given one cereal box. They are assigned task of devising a short, 1-minute commercial to present this product in a way that informs, persuades, or entertains the audience. We will perform these skits in front of the school on Thursday so our audience is the PVK camp.
b. Remind the students that naming is important, that they might want to use cute characters to sell the product, and they may want to come up with a fun jingle. (use this as opportunity to discuss various techniques used by advertisers and producers)
6) “Homework” – bring the props they need for their skit the following day

Student Self-Assessment
  • I can distinguish between informative, entertaining and persuasive messages and can also determine their commonalities
  • I can work as part of a team to create a media message that performs one specific function (inform persuade or entertain)
  • I can brainstorm and creatively think of ways to use various techniques to draw an audience’s attention

Notes upon having implemented lesson plan:
Again, we are not really following this lesson plan format b/c the students are very engaged with their letter to the news. So we have been working on revising our letter, paying attention to the fact that the news is our audience and we want to speak to them professionally. In discussing the news and what we want them to show, we have been discussing PIE (persuade inform entertain) so some of the objectives of this lesson are still being met. We are also working as a team to create a media message that aims to persuade the news to tell different types of stories. The students are excited about the cereal box activity because they want to know what happened to the taste test. So, I do want to work with them on dismantling the cereal boxes and hope to do that tomorrow for at least 15 minutes, just talk about what techniques are used to draw our attention. On the other hand, the cereal box activity goes really well with the hamburger/food stylists activity so I would want to pair them and have the students come up with their own commercials. But I am not sure we will have time to do all that when we are trying to create this video for the news (and I want to use the video as an opportunity to talk about wide shots, medium shots, close-ups, etc.)

Day 4 – Thursday July 9

Time Needed: 3 hours
Students work on their creative media-messaging projects, and rehearse their skits for the end –of-day community building meeting.

Learning Objective:
  • Students learn the importance of rehearsal to any performance
  • Students continue learning to create messages geared towards a specific audience and for a specific purpose

Materials Needed
  • Computer and projector
  • Cereal boxes
  • Genre game cards
  • Markers, construction paper, scissors, glue, and various props as needed

1) Continue working on their cereal box skits
2) Rehearse their skits and discuss as a class
3) Perform skits for school

Student Self-Assessment
  • I can work with a group to write a script and perform that script before an audience
  • I can prepare what props and memorization I need to perform my script
  • I can create a message that informs, persuades or entertains
  • I can create a message to speak to a particular audience