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Lesson Plan

Critical Media Literacy: Commercial Advertising

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Critical Media Literacy: Commercial Advertising

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Four 45-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Laurie A. Henry, Ph.D.

Laurie A. Henry, Ph.D.

Lexington, Kentucky

Publisher

International Reading Association

 

Student Objectives

Session 1

Session 2

Session 3

Session 4

Extensions

Student Assessment/Reflections

 

STUDENT OBJECTIVES

Students will

  • Investigate the influence of advertising on their daily lives

  • Engage in critical inquiry of mass media

  • Identify hidden media messages

  • Interpret messages presented through advertising

  • Discuss the effect of advertising on culture

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Session 1

1. Opening activity. Begin a discussion about television viewing habits and what magazines students enjoy reading by asking the following questions:
  • How many of you have a television in your bedroom?

  • How many hours of television do you watch daily?

  • What is your favorite television program?

  • What do you think about the television rating system?

  • What magazines do you like to read?

  • Do you subscribe to any magazines? What are they?
Explain to students that they are going to become "cultural investigators" in the area of mass media. Over the next few days, they will be investigating the role that advertising plays in their daily lives.

2. Online investigation. Schedule time in your computer lab for this part of the lesson. Each student should access the PBS Media Literacy quiz site and answer the questions presented. Ask students to record their scores after they complete the quiz. While waiting for other students to finish, they should review the questions that they answered incorrectly.

3. Follow-up discussion. Have students engage in a discussion based on the quiz results. Who is your most "savvy" television viewer? Be prepared with the correct answers to the quiz. Students may ask for clarification of questions they had wrong.

4. Homework. Instruct students to keep a record of the advertisements they see during their regular television viewing. Students should record the amount of time spent watching commercials and the subject of each commercial. For example, if a student watches three hours of television, they should note how much of that time was spent viewing commercials and the content of the commercial (e.g., products, television programming, public announcements). For products being sold, students should record the name brand of the product (e.g., Ragu spaghetti sauce).

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Session 2

1. Group activity. Group students to compare the results of their television viewing. Groups of four to six students work well for this activity. Give each group a large sheet of chart paper and have students record their results by placing the advertisements they viewed into categories, for example, Products for Sale, Ads for Television Programs, and so on. When each group has finished, post the chart paper on the wall and discuss the results. Look for commonalties between each group's results. What types of things are being advertised the most? Are students surprised by any of the results? Ask students how much time they spent watching commercials.

2. Print media activity. This activity can be done individually or with a partner. Distribute magazines to students. Students should look through the magazine and count how many pages are devoted to advertisements. As they do this, have them record what products are being advertised. Once they have finished recording the information, students should compare their results with others. At the end of the activity, ask students to compare their results for print advertisements in magazines to the television advertisements previously recorded. Are there any similarities? What types of products are advertised the most?

3. Homework. Students should repeat the assignment from the previous night.

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Session 3

1. Opening discussion. Have students report their findings from their television viewing. Compare to the results from the previous day. Are there any similarities or differences?

2. Print media activity. Each student should work with a partner for this activity. Give one magazine to each pair of students. Tell them to look through the magazine and find an advertisement that they like. Allow about five to seven minutes for the students to select an advertisement. Once an ad is selected, pass out the Advertisement Dissection and Analysis sheet. Have students answer as many questions as possible about the advertisement, based on the ad that they selected. As soon as two groups have completed their analysis, have them compare advertisements and discuss what they discovered. Continue to group pairs of students in this manner as they complete the activity.

3. Whole-class discussion. Once all pairs of students have shared their findings, pull students back to a whole group. Discuss what they found when analyzing the advertisements. Were there any obvious themes or patterns presented through the advertisements? (It is important that the ideas for this activity come from the students and not the teacher. The interpretations should be from their point of view and reflect how the ads influence their culture.)

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Session 4

1. Culminating activity. Review the patterns and themes discussed from the television commercials and magazine advertisements that students viewed. What do they always see in television ads? Magazine ads? Which medium does the best job with accurate representation? Students will write a written response on how advertising affects their culture.

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EXTENSIONS

Use other activities from the PBS Media Literacy "Getting Started" activity ideas list to further investigate commercial advertising.

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STUDENT ASSESSMENT/REFLECTIONS

  • Teacher observation of dialogue between students

  • Written response synthesizing classroom discussions

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