METALANGUAGES IN ADVERTISING

This wiki has been prepared by Liz Smith, Justine Shubert, Kristan Pardue, and Danica Trevarthan.

Audience: 8th Grade English Language Arts Classroom

Rationale:


We demonstrate our progression as teachers through creating interactive and interesting lessons that scaffold students through learning about and eventually creating advertisements. This unit immerses students in a practice of the multi-dimensional abilities that have been identified as 21st century skills: Creativity and Innovation, Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, Communication and Collaboration. Students apply Media Literacy skills to analyze and create media products. These skills assist students in becoming informed consumers and members of society. Solomon and Schrum refer to Project Tomorrow (2006) in stating, "Students are strong believers in the power of technology to enrich their learning experiences. They have ideas about their futures that include using technology tools for learning and preparing themselves for a competitive job market. (Solomon and Schrum p 27).

We support student learning by moving students from what they know and connect that prior knowledge with new information. We branch off from the written persuasive strategies that students have learned in preparation for the Florida Writes! and connect these to the way persuasive strategies are used in advertisement. Another example of this is in the creation of the ad campaign when students consider how they use objects before then thinking about how other audiences might use them differently.

We nurture a fun and corporative environment with direct instruction that does not rely on PowerPoint or the standard lecture alone. Students conduct brainstorms in cooperative groups and learn by doing as we work through the persuasive techniques as a class. Using advertisements such as the BMW ad play on students’ prior knowledge in that these are familiar ads which they have background to understand. BMW is something with which they are most likely familiar or have at least heard about. As noted by Considine: "Media texts reflect the society in which they operate in terms of their subject matter, organizational structure and values." (p 93) The use of Pathos is also obvious in the “Joy is BMW” ad campaign which makes it a good stepping stone for more sophisticated analysis of advertisement.

Students are required to learn advertising terms as another means of equipping them to truly understand this form of Media Literacy. By giving the students the vocabulary to discuss advertisements in an analytical we give them the tools they can use in future analysis and discussion. The same skills that are useful in analyzing the elements of advertisements can also be applied to other forms of media and literacy. Close and careful consideration of media influences is an important element in understanding the environment in which students live.

Students complete their assignments on Voice Thread because we feel that this medium is a highly effective tool for students to easily communicate their thoughts and it provides both a measure of accountability but also a reason and opportunity for reflection. Students know that these comments will be heard by their classmates so they are likely to listen to them multiple times and to put careful consideration into what they are posting. Students must also know their content well if they are to record a comment that does not start and stop and have lots of ums – at least if they don’t want to write a script first (which is really its own form of reinforcement if they do).

We build on content throughout this unit by beginning with students as analysts of media content and ending with students as creators of their own content. This increases student engagement and understanding of concepts as it is much more difficult to take learned concepts and to practically apply them in new contexts.

Once students have learned to carefully consider media elements they cannot unlearn this. The ultimate goal is for students to recognize and have a thorough understanding of the different techniques advertisers use to attract consumers. In doing so, students become wiser spenders and more educated consumers. Our lessons extend across multiple forms of media from print to television and thus we accustom students to applying these skills across multiple types of texts.

In our culture, advertising surrounds us. Today’s media provides a variety of avenues for selling or promoting goods and services: print ads, billboards, television, radio and movie commercials, pop-ups on the computer screen, and advertising on public transportation. Teenagers are technology savvy: they use it as a primary means of communication. As Solomon and Schrum inform, "Businesses are aware of this habit and now spend substantial dollars in advertising online." (p 28). Learning to mediate this bombardment is a life skill.

Our students are consumers. Many advertisements are directed toward them. Thus, the more sophisticated students become at interpreting the messages of advertisements, the more discerning they will become as consumers. Once students acquire the metalanguage to interpret advertisements, they will be able to interpret other forms of media. They will be able to engage in literacy events to make sense of the media around them. In doing so, students will develop an enhanced awareness of the messages that surround them, making them wiser spenders and more educated consumers. Students need to recognize the different techniques advertisers use to attract consumers in order to be aware of how advertising appeals to audience.