The Art of the Ad: A Critical Investigation of Persuasive Tactics

Author: Alima McKnight

School/Organization:

Richmond Elementary

Year: 2019

Seminar: Learning about America and the World from McDonald’s

Grade Level: 4

Keywords: theme, advertising, confidence, Critical thinking, English language learners, ESOL, opinion writing, persuasive writing, Self-Regulated Learning (SRL), special education, SpEd

School Subject(s): Language Arts, English, Social Studies

This curriculum unit suggests an approach to teaching opinion writing that is centered around advertising. The goal developed here is to have general education, special education, and English language learners become more critical of the advertisements they see in an effort to be more critical consumers long term and better persuasive writers short term.  Various teaching strategies such as analysis, evaluation, the construction of arguments, and Self-Regulated Learning (SRL) are explored in order to provide lessons that address confidence, writing skills, persuasive tactics, critical thinking, opinion development and research.

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Full Unit Text
Content Objectives

Background

 

This unit aims to help students develop critical thinking skills as demonstrated in persuasive or opinion writing and presentation.  Through lessons that address confidence, writing skills, persuasive tactics, critical thinking, opinion development and research; this unit will be able to pair alongside various curriculum.  A special focus will be on advertising and the messages therein.  Students will investigate persuasive tactics in advertising so as to increase their persuasive skills while also allowing them to become more critical of and question the messages they receive as they traverse various sources of media.  The culminating activity will be for students to create their own Public Service Announcement (PSA) campaign communicating healthy life choices.

 

In many ways, teaching students to be critical analyzers has been reserved for secondary school or higher.  Younger students are, for the most part, memorizing.  Early education requires the memorization of letters and sounds.  Then students move on to sight words and facts and equations- oh my!  By middle school, students must solve problems asking them to analyze and synthesize, but they still grapple with mastering those tasks and communicating their ideas with proficiency.  In elementary school grades 3-5, an important teacher’s role is to bridge the gap between identification and location of information in text and being critical of it for higher order thinking purposes.  On top of that, students are then required to demonstrate their critical thinking skills through written expression.  Therefore, the very important partnership of analyzing text and synthesizing ideas gets developed in 3rd-5th.

 

These younger students have difficulty thinking and writing critically in my experience because they are not confident in learning to trust their own thoughts and ideas.  Many younger students look for validation from teachers that they are “right” instead of trusting their own judgement about their answers or interpretations.  In many ways, this is completely expected because kids are learning to form ideas based on what they are learning and therefore in order to know that their ideas are approaching the standard skill being addressed.  Students must rely on the teacher as their guide towards mastery.  This makes sense to educators and need not be belabored.  However, as the torch of critical thinking gets passed from explanation and modeling by the teacher to independent processing and development by the student, the extent to which students continue to turn to the teacher for validation must ebb more towards student based decision making and this cannot happen successfully without the student’s confidence in their ability to weigh evidence and make reasonable decisions based upon that evidence.

 

I believe that is partly due to the “deficits deceit” within writing instruction among many teachers.  If guidelines for writing are not precise enough for teachers to clearly know what their students should know coming in and what they are expected to know going out, this makes for, not only an inequity of writing instruction, but may account for unrealistic expectations of students coming to them and insufficient preparation leaving them.  I have heard teachers complain about what students cannot do, not knowing that what they are expecting is actually what they should be teaching.  In other words, teachers may think students have a deficit when in reality, they haven’t learned that skill yet.  Wright (2018) asks, “How should I approach students

who write poorly? Blame them for demonstrating which skills they lack?” Conversely, teachers that do not know what the next year teacher is expecting, may not prepare their students to have a firm foundation on which the other teacher can expand.

 

Another factor relevant here is the ability of Special Education (SpEd) and English as a Second Language (ESOL) students to meet the standards linked to critical thinking.  These populations of students can often miss out on opportunities to learn skills, like critical thinking, because much of their focus in school is reading and math.  For instance, in my limited experience teaching ESOL and SpEd students inclusively, what I came to value/ focus more on were the ways I could instruct them in the standards whose prerequisites at first glance appear to be on-grade-level reading, when in practice could be taught separate and apart from reading; like character traits, inferencing, and main idea.  Put differently, I kept foremost in my mind the idea that I needed to teach my students 4th grade standards that were apart from reading fluency in the absence of their reading ability.  I relied heavily on oral comprehension for the SpEd students and text with comprehension questions in their native language for ESOL students.  I came to use infographics as a vehicle for teaching and assessing these subgroups so that the emphasis was on content and skill attainment rather than reading and writing level.

 

In order to get students to think critically enough to perform tasks of analysis, they need modeling, practice and confidence. Model and practice are obvious to all educators.  Confidence may seem less apparent.  But it is extremely important because critical thinking requires students to trust in their own line of thinking and reasoning.  They must believe they are right and defend, justify and/ or support their position.  This may be a lot to ask of an 8 year old.  The fear of being wrong can be intense at that age and only gets worse as they progress in academia, especially if their accomplishments in putting forth their opinions are shot down or score poorly.

 

How then do teachers combine model and practice with confidence building?  One suggestion I propose is the practice of persuasive writing.  Students can defend or attack positions simultaneously without fear that they are wrong, because the nature of debate, which is essentially persuasive talking, allows for multiple perspectives backed by evidence.  The emphasis in persuasive writing isn’t right or wrong, it is evidence and reasoning.  Therefore if students can learn to present an idea and back it up with relevant details, their ideas can be judged/scored based on their evidence and not their position.  The fear of failure is scaled back and students can start to feel confident that, with solid evidence, the ideas they present have meaning and validity, thus building their confidence.  For instance, a third grader is asked to analyze which makes a better pet:  cat versus dogs. The question being discussed has no right or wrong answer, therefore students can put their effort into giving their opinions without fear of failing the task so long as they provide evidence, which in this case is subjective.  In 4th grade, this might look like debating what’s a healthy sandwich for lunch, where evidence now is not just subjective opinions, but includes more objective elements such as the health benefits of certain foods.  By 5th grade, students can take on topics for debate that require more objective points to be researched; such as, which has the most importance for the environment:  to recycle, reduce, or reuse?

 

Once students begin to write and trust that their writing is aligned to the task and that they are meeting standards, they can move into deeper and more critical areas of analysis while also paying more attention to the process of writing and the components to be assessed:  focus, organization, style, content, and conventions.  Additionally, when students build confidence as writers and concurrently evolve their skills, their ability to be more critical thinkers may increase due to less time and effort needed to meet basic levels of writing proficiency and more time spent on developing the ideas and points of view being communicated.

 

Students becoming better writers doesn’t start or end with boosts of confidence however. Modeling, examples and clear expectations are key.  Additionally, writing can be taught in so many ways, it would be unfair to state one particular way is definitive.  However, there are a few best practices all teachers should employ.  The writing skills in this unit will be taught through the use of cloze writing strategies in persuasive or opinion writing.  Cloze writing is in many ways a fill-in-the-blank or template driven technique used for helping students gain and grow their writing skills.  This strategy works well, in my experience, in three ways:  for introducing higher level content specific writing vocabulary and form, for catching up students that are not strong writers due to inexperience with writing on their grade level yet still could be with some support, and for SpEd and ESOL students who often need more support.  When I use cloze, or template (Wright, 2018), writing as a strategy in my classroom, it progressively moves students towards independence at a rate that is most suited to their own levels of progress and proficiency.  This is because one invaluable benefit of using cloze writing that I have found is that even though students can rely on it as long as they want, they quickly incorporate their own voice into the template, making their writing less like mine and more like their own. Providing a rubric for students quickens this process as well. As teachers develop rubrics, they think more deeply about the assignment and thus the assignment grows in depth and relevance. That thoughtfulness and development of the assignment can translate to students being able to clearly understand the expectations and produce work that is of a higher quality (Bradford, 2015).

 

The dissection of persuasive tactics is a part of this unit for two reasons.  First, as a catalyst for critical thinking.  Second, as a motivation for writing opinion and persuasive pieces more effectively.  In this unit we will discuss and analyze McDonald’s ads as a way to discern truth from perception.  As students learn to look at advertising as a system of purposeful placements and targeted, yet sometimes hidden, messages, they will develop a more critical eye and thus critical thinking skills.  At the same time, these tactics that they identify will become a part of their arsenal when they set off to write and thus persuade their audience.

 

Developing informed opinions in your students is not all that hard to do when the subject matter is near and dear to their hearts, minds, lives, and especially stomachs.  Therefore in this unit, the catalyst for diving deeper into opinion and persuasive writing will be an examination of McDonald’s.  Students will not only come away with a better understanding of how to be critical thinkers who can express their opinions via writing, they may even walk way paying more attention to what they eat!

 

The final project for this unit is a PSA– either in print or video form. This method of assessment takes into consideration the benefits of evaluating understanding in visual formats. (Regan, 2017) Traditionally, opinion or persuasive writing at the 3rd-5th grade level revolves around an essay. This unit does take many steps to guide students in a way that would aide in the writing of an essay, however, since the assignments and final project only require a constructed response sized writing piece, the true value in this unit is the critical thinking component and the alternate approach to grading for mastery or proficiency. Particular for inclusive classrooms, having the final project be something other than a +/-5 paragraph essay speaks to the growing understanding that students may still be learning using alternate or non-traditional vehicles to academic understanding and ultimately can be assessed via non-traditional means.

 

As a catalyst for developing written work, visual tools can spur thinking in visually-inclined learners, which can fortify their opinions and arguments. Complementarily, verbal description of visuals can aid students’ ability to focus on details of an otherwise dizzying cornucopia of visual stimuli. Each of these qualities — en- countering ideas, thoughts, feelings, and beliefs via visual material and developing a deeper focus through describing visual material — can enrich written work by allow- ing students to tap into their experiential knowledge and describe it with texture and precision. (Snow, 2017)

 

One large component of this unit is the Self-Regulated Learning (SRL) checklist. This aspect of each lesson aims to address the difficulty some SpEd, ESOL, and ADHD students may face when tasked with assignments that require tasks with which they struggle. This strategy also helps students that in general struggle to complete assignments. More recent research on the strategy suggests that it works well with ESOL students for writing (Kim and Kim, 2013; Cuenca-Carlino, 2017; Barkel, 2018), but this unit utilizes it with all students as suggested by the strategy’s creator (Zimmerman, 2010). The content of the lessons can at times be a heavy lift for students and the use of an aid to help students feel better equipped to handle the task is the goal. The self-regulation checklists were created specifically for each lesson based on 6 Strategies to Teach Kids Self-Regulation in Writing by  Andrew M.I. Lee (Retrieved 2019) and Ness and Middleton (2011).

Content Objectives

 

This unit will focus on 4th grade content objectives and standards.  However, many lessons can be used in the 3rd-5th range.  Keeping in mind the earlier notion that students may come without the requisite skills from the previous year, it is important to take note of all the expectations throughout a student’s primary and secondary academic career.  In order to address true deficits, teachers need to be aware of the vertical progression of skills students need in order to progress and develop their writing and critical thinking skills (See Appendix).

 

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.1

Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.1.A

Introduce a topic or text clearly, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure in which related ideas are grouped to support the writer’s purpose.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.1.B

Provide reasons that are supported by facts and details.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.1.C

Link opinion and reasons using words and phrases (e.g., for instance, in order to, in addition).

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.1.D

Provide a concluding statement or section related to the opinion presented.

 

CC.1.5.4.A Collaborative Discussion:  Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions on grade level topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

 

CC.1.5.4.F Multimedia: Add audio recordings and visual displays to presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or themes.

 

CC.1.5.4.B Critical Listening: Paraphrase portions of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

 

CC.1.5.4.C Evaluating Information: Identify the reasons and evidence a speaker provides to support particular points.

 

CC.1.2.4.G Interpret various presentations of information within a text or digital source and explain how the information contributes to an understanding of text in which it appears.

 

CC.1.2.4.B Refer to details and examples in text to support what the text says explicitly and make inferences.

 

CC.1.4.4.V Conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.

Teaching Strategies

This unit will utilize strategies that address writing objectives in a progressive way to scaffold skills until students are proficient in both being critical of the messages they receive as well as being able to create persuasive opinions  and  arguments.  However, the first objective this unit will address is not a part of the CCSS.  It is confidence.  This can be addressed through quick writes and debates, where topics have no correct answers and opinions are backed by supporting evidence, which may be opinion based instead of fact based.  Once students are able to report on a topic based on their own opinions, they will be presented with McDonald’s ads and commercials and tasked with identifying the opinions or messages being portrayed.  Next, students will be presented with “tricks of the trade” or actual persuasive mechanisms that advertisers use to persuade audiences.  Critical thinking skills will be taught through juxtaposing the messages of the ads and commercials with the realities of McDonald’s effects on health, wages, and agriculture.  This objective will also be addressed by presenting other marketing campaigns and the damage those companies do.  As students get better at thinking critically about ads and commercials, they will be asked to start forming opinions based on research and not just their own personal feelings and experiences, thus addressing the complete grade level opinion-writing objective.  The last strategies presented will address writing competencies by utilizing template or cloze writing and Self-Regulated Strategy Development (SRSD).  All the strategies presented are appropriate for 4th grade regular education, SpEd, and ESOL students but can be changed to better fit other grade levels, keeping in mind vertical progressions.  The strategies presented are based on Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning.

 

Strategies for Building Student Confidence in their Opinions
Brainstorm Brainstorm reasons for student opinions.
Categorize & Order Sort reasons based on type and degree of importance.
Discuss Discuss student opinions in class or utilize Think, Pair, Share.
Demonstrate Demonstrate their opinion development on a mini-poster.
Compose Compose a short speech to present mini-poster.
Present Present mini-posters to the class.

 

Strategies for Identifying the Themes and Messages of Advertisements
Identify Identify images, words, music, and colors used in ads.
Analyze Analyze images, words, music, and colors in print and video ads for meaning or message, what these elements try to do/accomplish, and how they work together to create the meaning or message.  (Fig. #)
Deduce Deduce the theme and messages of ads.
Diagram and Report Diagram and report out the messages of ads using a web. (Fig.#)

 

Strategies for Examining/ Identifying (Parsing Out) Persuasive Tactics
Collect Collect a list of strategies and tactics advertisers use.
Identify Identify those strategies and tactics in ads.
Recognize and Interpret Recognize and interpret the theme and messages being portrayed in ads.
Generalize and Deduce Generalize the overall persuasive purpose of the advertisement by deduction using if/then reasoning.

 

 

 

Strategies for Critically Evaluating Advertisements
Evaluate and Differentiate Evaluate and differentiate between the message of ads and the reality of their products.
Determine Determine a value of positive messages versus negative information.
Judge Judge the validity of the ad’s theme and messages versus the reality of the product.

 

 

 

Strategies for Student Research Based Opinion Development
State or Develop State an opinion or develop a position on a topic.
Research Research the topic.
Collect, Evaluate and Choose Collect, evaluate and choose information on a topic to support a particular perspective or opinion about the topic.
Formulate & Construct Formulate and construct an opinion based on research.

 

Strategies for Opinion Writing
State or Develop State an opinion or develop a position on a topic.
Explain Explain opinion using reasoning terminology.
Support Support opinion using research.
Organize Organize opinion in an essay format.
Conclude Provide a concluding statement or section related to the opinion presented.

 

Classroom Activities

This unit consists of six lessons that could take the entirety of a daily writing block or 60 minutes. However, the time allotted may be too much or not enough depending on the grade level and skill level of the students. The prep time for the creation of companion materials such as slide presentations and worksheets tailored to individual classes will add to the planning time. That being stated, these plans and materials aimed to be thorough and exhaustive as to cut down on lesson planning to allow for more intellectual prep, which is the time teachers spend engaging with material to be taught prior to the delivery of the lesson. In other words, these lessons and materials are complete if you want to dive right in or a great starting point to personalize them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Building Student Confidence in their Own Opinions
Standard CC.1.4.4.G Write opinion pieces on topics or texts.

Focus: CC.1.4.4.H Introduce the topic and state an opinion on the topic.

Content: CC.1.4.4.I Provide reasons that are supported by facts and details.

CC.1.5.4.A Collaborative Discussion:  Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions on grade level topics and texts, building on others’

ideas and expressing their own clearly.

  CC.1.5.4.F Multimedia: Add audio recordings and visual displays to presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas

or themes.

Objective(s) SWBAT compose a piece of writing that provides an argument and explains that argument using facts and/or definitions in an organized way with an introduction and conclusion IOT communicate a written opinion clearly.
SWBAT support their opinions with reasons and  information IOT present their points of view on various topics.
SWBAT engage in active listening and present themselves verbally in large and small group situations with both peers and adults IOT to meet grade appropriate outcomes/expectations as identified in the standards.
Lesson: My Opinion Counts!
Anticipatory Set/Accessing Prior Knowledge Teacher explains that everyone has an opinion.  Whether we have used the word “opinion” or not, we have and form opinions all the time.  Everyone has a favorite candy or fruit or show they watch.  Thinking its great, awesome, cool, wonderful or unique is your opinion.  We don’t go around saying, ‘My opinion is…’, but we do say what we like and don’t like all the time.  Now when we do this, no one is right or wrong about their favorite or least favorite– it’s just their opinion and they have personal reasons why they think or feel the way they do.
Objective and Purpose “The purpose of  this lesson is to practice and build your skills in forming and supporting an opinion.  As we talk about forming and supporting opinions, we will use a self-regulated tracking sheet to make sure we stay focused on this task.”  Teacher passes out paper with a custom SRL form on one side and opinion lesson worksheet on the other. (Fig. 1)  Students also receive a Post-It note to use later.  “Let’s fill out the top of our SRL form now.”  Students get a few minutes to fill it out.
Input “Before we get back to the lesson, who can remind us what an opinion is?” Teacher engages students in a brief discussion about what an opinion is and defines it on the board.
Modeling Teacher displays an image of a cat and dog or other two animals.  “Let me see if I can tell you my opinion about these two animals.”  Teachers states opinions about both animals” OR for students that can handle a challenge, states facts in an effort to elicit a no response from students before stating opinions.  “Now, I will tell you why I like ___ best/ think ___ is a superior hunter/ ___ is a better pet/ etc. I’m going to choose reasons that I think are the most important. I could say anything as a reason to support my opinion, but I want my opinion to sound strong so I will choose strong evidence that I think can be persuasive.”  Teacher pulls animal choice to the center of the display and writes/shares reasons in a web format around the animal. Teacher can rank the reasons using 1-6 to further the notion of what’s most important. An anchor chart for quick reference can be made in advance. (Fig. 2) (This skill can be also be taught using another unit: Ranking Evidence) “Great. Let’s fill out section 2 of our SRL form now.”  Students get a few minutes to fill it out.
Checking for Understanding Teacher tasks students with writing a statement that either supports the teacher’s opinion or contradicts it in favor of the other animal.  Students share their opinions and place on the board either as a part of the web or in another area designated for dissent.  Once it is clear that all students have shared a viable reason, even if theirs is identical to another’s, checking for understanding is complete.
Guided Practice Teacher displays two more images for students to choose from.  “Ok, now that you have had a chance to try this out with me, you are going to try it with a partner.  Check out these two ___(animals, shows, phones, songs, etc).  Each of you has to choose one to talk about with a partner for Think, Pair, Share.  It doesn’t matter if you choose the same one.  The first thing to do is decide what exactly you want to say about your choice.  Do you want to tell how its better, faster, stronger, softer, smarter, colder, or whatever?” Teacher gives students a minute.  “Let’s state our opinion on the line for section 2 on our papers as well as check on our SRL how we are doing so far.” PAUSE.  “Great. Ok, now you have to brainstorm a bunch of reasons your opinion is valid.  You will get 2 minutes to write as many reasons as you can.”  Teacher gives 2 minutes.  “Alright, now it’s time to talk to your partner and share your ideas.  If you like one of your reasons and you think it really supports their opinion, give them a high five.  You will have 5 minutes to share.  Begin!”
Independent Practice Students choose from a display of multiple images. Students are told to fill out #3 on their worksheet.  Students get a picture of what they choose in a web.  Students fill out their web as a mini-poster, adding color to make it fancy.  Although the decoration is not a part of this lesson, the thought process used to choose the decorations will be referred to later in subsequent lessons.  As the teacher thinks aloud and students respond, take note of style choices that are aligned to persuasive tactics used in advertising.  On the back of the mini-poster, students write a few sentences to help them present their opinions without having to turn the paper around (so they can read from the back while the poster is displayed).
Students present their mini-posters.
Closure Exit ticket is Thumbs Up/ Thumbs Down:  “After completing this activity today, who feels that they had a chance to express their true feelings, and are confident that their opinions were heard?”

 

 

 

 

Identifying the Themes and Messages of Advertisements
Standard CC.1.5.4.B Critical Listening: Paraphrase portions of a text read aloud

or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually,

quantitatively, and orally.

CC.1.5.4.C Evaluating Information: Identify the reasons and evidence a

speaker provides to support particular points.

CC.1.2.4.G Interpret various presentations of information within a text or digital source and explain how the information contributes to an understanding of text in which it appears.
CC.1.2.4.B Refer to details and examples in text to support what the text says explicitly and make inferences.
Objective(s)

 

 

SWBAT engage in active listening and present themselves verbally in large and small group situations with both peers and adults IOT to meet grade appropriate outcomes/expectations as identified in the standards.
SWBAT interpret information from different formats IOT explain how the information contributes to an understanding of the text in which it appears.
SWBAT refer to details and examples IOT draw inferences.
SWBAT extrapolate the messages of advertisements IOT demonstrate understanding and comprehension of various media sources.
Lesson: Multiple Messages
Anticipatory Set Teacher shows a picture that will elicit a smile from most students followed by a picture that makes most cringe.  Teacher asks why so many had similar reactions.  Students share how the pictures affected them.  Teacher explains that knowing how people are affected by external stimuli is something that is studied- by psychologists and advertisers.  So much so that, people with the knowledge of how to affect people are paid to create things to particularly elicit very specific and specific responses.  Teacher shows a picture of raw hamburger followed by a GIF of a healthy looking person eating a big, juicy burger.  “Which of these makes you want a burger?”
Objective and Purpose “The purpose of this lesson is to be able to identify the meaning of and theme in ads.  We will ask ourselves, what are the messages in ads? Are there more than meets the eye? Being critical thinkers when it comes to media is an important skill.  It prepares us to be smart and informed consumers.  As we investigate the messages in advertisements, we will use a self-regulated tracking sheet to make sure we stay focused on this task.”  Teacher passes out paper with a custom SRSD form on one side and lesson worksheet on the other and reviews both sides. (Fig. 3)
Input Students will share why they like going to McDonald’s or another fast-food chains and why.  No sharing should take place about those who don’t go and why.  The idea is to focus on the public’s positive take-away from ads.
Modeling Teacher shows a commercial: Coke Happiness Factory 2007 Super Bowl commercial .  “How cool was that? It really makes me happy and excited to buy a Coke in a vending machine.  Wouldn’t it be cool if all that really happened when you put money into a vending machine?  I don’t think Coke thinks we will believe that all that happens, but it makes seem like a cool idea and makes me think about all the cool things about Coke.  What does it make you think or feel?  Please write on your worksheet #1, what commercial makes you think.”  Give time for students to write.
Checking for Understanding Teacher asks students to show on their faces how the commercial made them feel.  Explore the emotions that are sad or frowning (there may be feelings of disappointment because students know that none of what they saw inside the machine is possible).
Guided Practice Teacher explains the next task.  “Ok, we are going to do this again. Remember, as you watch, take note of how you are feeling or if the ad makes you think of anything in particular.”  Teachers shows Six Flags Mr. 6.  “It’s time to fill in your answer for #2.”  Give time for students to write. “We are going to watch this one more time.  This time, instead of just thinking of your feelings, think about the message Six Flags wants everyone to take-away after watching this:  Six Flags wants people to…” Give time for students to write. When most students are done, students share. Then engage in a class discussion to talk about how the commercial got everyone to think that if they went to Six Flags they would be cool and have so much fun. Teacher how long a wait is for a ride at an amusement park. Students with experience share out. The idea here is to prime for the idea that the world created in ads and reality are different.
Independent Practice Teachers explains that it’s the students’ turn to find the message of a commercial and shows: True Move Giving without showing the end with the message displayed. Students complete True Move Commercial part of worksheet.  Students share out.
Closure Teacher plays  5 Second Flash: advertisements addition. 5 slides, 5 images, 5 emotions to choose from.

 

 

Examining Persuasive Tactics
Standard No Common Core literacy standards exist that directly state the examination of advertisements, but correlations can be made to several.
CC.1.2.4.G  Interpret various presentations of information within a text or digital source and explain how the information contributes to an understanding of text in which it appears.
Objective(s) SWBAT critically examine advertisements IOT identify the tactic or strategy used.
SWBAT examine elements of advertising IOT identify persuasive methods.
Lesson: The Art of the Ad
Anticipatory Set Teacher shows an image of a happy family.  Students are asked to think about how they feel looking at the ad.  Next students will work with a partner to guess what the image in “selling”- both emotionally and in product or service form.
Objective and Purpose “The purpose of this lesson is to be able to identify the tactics and strategies advertisers and companies use in ads.  Being critical thinkers when it comes to media is an important skill.  It prepares us to be smart and informed consumers.  As we investigate how advertisers and companies persuade us in their advertisements, we will use a self-regulated tracking sheet to make sure we stay focused on this task.”  Teacher passes out paper with a custom SRL form on one side and lesson worksheet on the other and reviews both sides. (Fig. 3)
Input Students will be asked to recall and sing the song or catchphrase from a commercial.  Other students will be asked to name the product being sold. Teacher will comment on how well the advertisers did in helping people remember their product.
Modeling Teacher displays a slide presentation: Persuasive Tactics In Advertising (Fig. 4), which gives visual examples of EDUCBA’s (2019) and Management Study Guide’s (2019) advertising strategies.  The first slide is a dark color/ scary music and says, “Show me with your face, how this color/sound makes you feel.” Pause.  The second slide is a bright color/happy music and says, “Show me with your face, how this color/sound makes you feel.” Pause.  Teacher says, “Isn’t it interesting that I didn’t tell you what kind of face to make, but most of us made the same face for each slide.  That’s because certain colors or sounds or images make us feel certain ways. Advertisers know that.  They will use specific colors, sounds or images to make us feel a certain way when they try to sell us their product.  And the better they are at choosing what colors or sounds or images to use in their ads, the better we remember them, desire their product and the more chance we have of buying their product.  Let’s see if that’s true…” The next slide displays famous characters from ads- ie. Mr. Clean, Burger King- and says, “This character looks happy and fun.  I think I would feel happy if I was with this character. Actually, I know what product is being advertised here,” and then pausing to use the Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down strategy to see which students know as well.  Teacher reveals the product and says, “Knowing who the character is here really helped me figure out this product’s benefits.”  Teacher displays a slide with a perfectly made, well-known food product- ie. Big Mac- and says, “Wow, that looks yummy.  Everything is so perfect.  I bet that tastes pretty good.  I know what product is being advertised here,” and then pausing to use the Thumbs Up/ Thumbs Down strategy to see which students know as well. Teacher reveals the product and says, “Seeing this delicious sandwich nice and big like that, perfectly made…really helped me figure out this product.” Teacher explains that there are many strategies to get consumers to want products and goes through each subsequent slide discussing and examining the strategies.
Checking for Understanding Teacher asks, “What’s a strategy advertisers use to get us to want their products?  Write it on your worksheet.”  Pause for student participation.
Guided Practice Teacher displays a print ad.  Teacher uses if/ then to guide students to complete Question #2 of the worksheet by matching the ad to the strategy. Teacher thinks aloud after looking at the ad, “If this ad shows ______, then I think the ad strategy is_____ and the advertiser wants me to feel/ think ____.”  After each ad, teacher reveals answer to keep students on the right track and correct any misunderstandings.
Independent Practice Students get magazines or magazine pages and choose 3 ads to examine. Students complete worksheet, front and back.
Optional Follow-Up Activity:  Students have to think of a strategy to advertise a product that the teacher chooses.  In groups or pairs, students brainstorm which strategy they would use to sell the product and why.
Closure Magazine ads are displayed with strategy and high fives are given to students.

 

 

 

 

Critically Evaluating Advertisements
Standard CC.1.4.4.G Write opinion pieces on topics or texts.

Focus: CC.1.4.4.H Introduce the topic and state an opinion on the topic.

Content: CC.1.4.4.I Provide reasons that are supported by facts and details.

Objective(s) SWBAT evaluate and differentiate between the message of an ad and the reality of the product IOT judge the validity of the ad’s theme and messages.
SWBAT use critical thinking skills IOT evaluate the messages of advertisements.
Lesson: Truth in Advertising?
Anticipatory Set Teacher reminds students of the exaggeration strategy from the last lesson. Teacher may connect exaggeration to hyperbole.
Objective and Purpose “The purpose of this lesson is to be able to determine whether or not the themes and messages advertisers and companies use in ads matches the product or benefit of the product they are trying to sell us.  We will ask ourselves, is there truth in advertising?  Being critical thinkers when it comes to media is an important skill.  It prepares us to be smart and informed consumers.  As we investigate how advertisers and companies persuade us in their advertisements, we will use a self-regulated tracking sheet to make sure we stay focused on this task.”  Teacher passes out paper with a custom SRL form on one side and lesson worksheet on the other and reviews both sides. (Fig. 4)
Input Teacher shows a commercial.  “Using thumbs up/ thumbs down,  is the theme ____?  Is the strategy ______?”  Teacher reminds students or has another student remind students that theme and strategy have already been discussed and examined in class.  Students are instructed to use their SRL to check off the reviewed concepts.
Modeling Teacher shows Truth in Advertising? slides with juxtaposed ads vs reality and comments on the comparisons.  Students may use the “same” hand gesture to acknowledge agreement.  One slide must display an ad that is dramatically opposed to its product.  Option:  a happy, healthy family eating at McDonald’s.  Teacher dissects the ad for strategies, colors, music, imagery and finally, themes and messages – a concept map accompanies this step.  Teacher says, “So in evaluating this ad, I have deduced that eating at McDonald’s will _____.  Let’s look at some facts about McDonald’s and its food.”  Teacher explains that in order to find out if the messages are true, we must do a little investigative research.  Teacher models how to look up nutrition information.  Then displays next slides with facts about McDonald’s food, food deserts information, lawsuits, etc. Teacher says, “Now let’s think about this…” Teacher turns back to concept web and crosses out messages that were disproven with research.  Teachers says, “I think there was some truth- this sandwich tastes good, but in reality that is the only truth.  The ad made me think I could be happy and healthy with my family if I ate at McDonald’s, but the truth is, if I do choose to eat there a lot, I would not be healthy at all and I don’t think I would be happy eating food that is so bad for me now that I know it can make me sick.”
Checking for Understanding Teacher shows the Checking for Understanding slide to see how students are grasping the concept.  Correction is given where needed.
Guided Practice Teacher says, “Ok, now let’s try this together.  Remember, our goal here is to make a comparison so we can judge the validity of the claims made and implied in the ads and the truth about the product.”  Teacher shows companion slides:  commercial or ad paired with actual product benefits. Teacher guides and nudges.  Students fill out their worksheets.
Independent Practice Students are tasked with choosing from 5 ads.  Students must evaluate the ad using their worksheet.  Students must then write a constructed response using the template to compare the validity of the ad’s theme and messages versus the reality of the product.  Students may need to research facts or may be given fact sheets.
Closure Students share their favorite evaluation/ comparison.

 

 

 

Research Based Opinion Development  –  Part 1 –  Modeling and Guided Practice
Standard CC.1.4.4.G Write opinion pieces on topics or texts.

Focus: CC.1.4.4.H Introduce the topic and state an opinion on the topic.

Content: CC.1.4.4.I Provide reasons that are supported by facts and details.

CC.1.4.4.V Conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.
Objective(s) SWBAT collect evaluate and choose information on a topic to support a particular perspective or opinion about the topic IOT formulate and construct in writing an opinion based on research.
Lesson: Supporting Opinions with Research
Anticipatory Set Teacher reminds students that everyone had opinions and that those opinions are valid in and of themselves, as in Lesson #1 of this unit.
Objective and Purpose “The purpose of this lesson is to back up what is stated with evidence by conducting research. Instead of just stating an opinion or trying to persuade an audience with personal feelings, you will be required to back up what you say with research, so that, unlike the ads we saw, the message being conveyed is aligned to facts about a topic. As we collect information to support our perspectives, opinions, or points of view; we will use a self-regulated tracking sheet to make sure we stay focused on this task.”  Teacher passes out paper with a custom SRL form on one side and lesson worksheet on the other and reviews both sides. (Fig. 5)
Input “Before we get back to the lesson, who can remind us what ads try to persuade us of?” Teacher engages students in a brief discussion about what ads try to accomplish and writes some student generated ideas on the board.
Modeling Teacher displays an image of a cat and dog or other two animals from lesson 1 along with the two sentences from the lesson expressing the opinion.  “I shared my opinion about these two animals in the first lesson. I told you that I thought ____ was the best pet choice because _________. That was my opinion. Now I’m going to add some research to my opinion to back it up. Building this backup is called supporting my opinion.” Teacher opens a browser window with additional advantages to the animal. Teacher does a Think Aloud of how to choose the facts to add to the sentences. Teacher adds the additional facts to complete the paragraph utilizing a word bank or template for opinion writing constructed responses or text dependent analysis.   “This is what you are going to do. You are going to take an opinion and find either facts or other opinions to support your point of view. But before we get started, let’s fill out sections 1 and 2 of our SRL form now.”  Students get a few minutes to fill it out.
Checking for Understanding “Please share what you wrote on you Self-Regulation Checklist for section 2.” Teacher checks that all students are ready to start because they expressed understanding when answering #2 of the checklist. Corrects misconceptions where necessary.
Guided Practice “Let’s make sure we are all ready to get started. Here’s a list of facts about chicken and beef (or two other foods). It will be up to you to choose which is better- and by better you could discuss health, taste, or some other perspective of your choice. Use the information you read to help you make a decision.” Teacher provides information about two food items. For younger students, this can be a display of a T-chart on the board. For older students, this can be articles printed and distributed in hand to students– the more articles they have the more they will have to sort through the information to find support for their opinion. For technology integration, this can be a list of websites in Google Classroom where students are able to find information (Table 1). For students with their own devices and previous online research instruction, this can be an open online research time. Or this can be any other delivery method suited for the students and their needs and ability levels. The goal here is to be available as students navigate the information they are using. Teacher must be monitoring students for understanding and guiding them to supporting details with they struggle to find some. Students are guided to read the facts collect their facts– highlighters, circling, quoting, etc. as well as noting the source or their information. Lastly,  students fill in #1 on their worksheet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Objective(s)CC.1.4.4.V Conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.

Research Based Opinion Development  –  Part 2 –  Independent Practice
Standard CC.1.4.4.G Write opinion pieces on topics or texts.

Focus: CC.1.4.4.H Introduce the topic and state an opinion on the topic.

Content: CC.1.4.4.I Provide reasons that are supported by facts and details.

Objective(s) SWBAT collect evaluate and choose information on a topic to support a particular perspective or opinion about the topic IOT formulate and construct in writing an opinion based on research.
Lesson: Supporting Opinions with Research
Independent Practice Students will conduct research and write about a healthy food choice.

Optional: For SpEd and ESOL students, complete graphic organizer only. Images as evidence may be acceptable.

Closure Students are instructed to fill in #4 on their checklist. Students are encouraged to share their experience with this assignment as reflected on their checklist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Healthy Choices Public Service Announcement -Final Project
Standard CC.1.4.4.G Write opinion pieces on topics or texts.

Focus: CC.1.4.4.H Introduce the topic and state an opinion on the topic.

Content: CC.1.4.4.I Provide reasons that are supported by facts and details.

CC.1.5.4.F Multimedia: Add audio recordings and visual displays to presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas

or themes.

Objective(s) SWBAT compose a piece of writing that provides an argument and explains that argument using facts and/or definitions in an organized way with an introduction and conclusion IOT communicate a written opinion clearly.
SWBAT engage in active listening and present themselves verbally in large and small group situations with both peers and adults IOT to meet grade

appropriate outcome

s/expectations as identified in the standards.

Lesson: PSA Time: Sharing a Message
Anticipatory Set “Advertisers use a bunch of different tactics to persuade people to buy their products.” Teacher displays a slide presentation summary of the lessons about advertising. “Quick, what are some ways advertisers and companies get us to want their products.” Teacher elicits answers from students. If anchor charts exist or student notes are available, teacher guides students to use them to respond.
Objective and Purpose “Today we are going to take all that we have learned and put it together to create an ad that not only persuades people, but persuades them to make healthy choices.”
Input “We found out that places like McDonald’s project an appearance of happy, healthy, affordable, diverse family friendly food. We also found out that McDonald’s food is high in salt, fat, sugar, and oil. That it’s ads target low income, minority, and children populations. So what would be the opposite message?” Teacher elicits responses and guides students to the idea that there are healthy, affordable foods and that ads can be used for positive messages whose goal isn’t profit but better  outcomes for the public. Teacher explains these are called Public Service Announcements, PSAs. Teacher shows several to the class and asks what message they are trying to convey (this may mean stopping the PSA before the end as most display their message or theme). Some examples: Reading, Cheerleader Dad, Don’t Text and DriveChristine: I have to quit, Yul Brenner, Cheers for Chubs, Eating Junk Food, Active for Life (Note that not all PSAs may be suitable for all audiences.)
Modeling “It’s my turn to create a message that I want to share with others about being healthy. I saw that lots of PSAs include the negative effects of bad behaviors, but I want to focus on the positive more, like the Cheerleader Dad PSA. I will create a character that goes around and encourages kids to eat healthy foods and exercise. I think it might be funny if I made two characters…the second will be the naughty one like the Cheers for Chubs PSA.” Teacher displays characters. “Now I just have to write my opinions and the facts that I want to include in my PSA.” (Fig.#) Teacher does a think aloud for writing the words and choosing images to accompany the words. Teacher shows a self-made video PSA. Example:
Checking for Understanding “What do you notice or wonder about my PSA?”
Guided Practice “Let’s say I want to do a different topic and I want to do a PSA print ad campaign. What topic could I address?” Teacher guides students through a project rubric/ checklist as the class creates a “print ad” PSA. (Fig. #)
Independent Practice Students create their own PSA. Students can choose between print or video. Students can use technology, magazine pictures, or video to create their PSA.
Closure Students use the rubric to grade their projects.

Resources

Bibliography for Teachers

 

Bradford, Kendall L., et al. “Rubrics as a Tool in Writing Instruction: Effects on the Opinion Essays of First and Second Graders.” Early Childhood Education Journal, vol. 44, no. 5, 2015, pp. 463–472., doi:10.1007/s10643-015-0727-0.

 

Lee, Andrew M.I. “6 Strategies to Teach Kids Self-Regulation in Writing.” Understood.org, www.understood.org/en/school-learning/learning-at-home/encouraging-reading-writing/6-strategies-to-teach-kids-self-regulation-in-writing.

 

Ness, Bryan M., and Michael J. Middleton. “A Framework for Implementing Individualized Self-Regulated Learning Strategies in the Classroom.” Intervention in School and Clinic, vol. 47, no. 5, 2011, pp. 267–275., doi:10.1177/1053451211430120.

 

“Products – Data Briefs – Number 213 – September 2015.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db213.htm.

 

Wright, Zachary F. “How Do We Teach Our Least Confident Students to Write? Convince Them That They Can—and Give Them a Map.” Educational Leadership, vol. 75, no. 7, Apr. 2018, pp. 74–77.

 

Reading List for Students

 

Students can be given articles about the topics I have suggested, but much of what they need to read will come from teacher and student choice based on the topics they choose and reading levels of students. This unit is truly flexible in the grade levels it can accomodate.

 

ReadWorks.org has leveled articles about the same topics. Lexile levels are provided for each article as well.

 

MyPlate.gov has many resources that are for students that work well in graphic organizers and pictures.

 

Classroom Materials

 

Presentations

 

Persuasive Tactics In Advertising: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1wMHv8KBkorLtV2k4HCcyJHN1t6qgyvuKgxMjxLc7yWk/edit?usp=sharing

 

Truth in Advertising?:

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1qHN8EjRmi1xvtbBaTQD_W864tAJZw1XZQlu9XTrw7uQ/edit#slide=id.p

 

 

 

Videos

 

Coke Happiness Factory 2007 Super Bowl: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_JsOrH5cOM

Six Flags Mr. 6: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0bvgpg7yig

True Move Giving Commercial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDi66yKKxDM&t=1s Reading: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jl1sdkCwIg4

Cheerleader Dad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OGMLOcQVKA

Don’t Text and Drive: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rClJW9gnchc

Christine: I have to quit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yb0zDUzSktY

Yul Brenner: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNjunlWUJJI

Cheers for Chubs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14oSJAYFMwo

Eating Junk Food: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0U32D9KzjY

Active for Life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2syJ1bAMOvc