Creating our own commercials

We have also been learning about rhetorical devices: ethos, pathos, and logos. After analyzing them in commercials, students created their own commercials.

First, all students had to write a script in a Google doc template. This template had them think about the big 5 questions when analyzing media, but for their own commercial. They also had to plan out each scene and how they were going to use rhetorical devices.

Next, students created a 4-slide Google presentation. Each slide simply had one image on it. Each slide was a scene in their commercial.

Third, students used Screencastify to talk over their presentation using their script. This created their commercial. Students posted these to Google Classroom.

Lastly, students viewed and critiqued each other’s commercials using a Google form.

Tomorrow they are going to find logical fallacies in their own commericial and other students’ commercials. I specifically teach fallacies after having them create the commercials because it creates a special kind of horror when they realize all the fallacies they’ve used. : )


Using “Making a Murderer:” best decision ever!

You might think I’m crazy, but let me tell you, teaching documentary analysis through “Making a Murderer” was one of the best decisions I’ve made so far this year. I’ve written a little bit about it before, but let me give you a little update.

Through some awesome help of social media and a friend of a friend, I got a guest speaker to come to my classroom yesterday. Chris Duffy was a reporter in Green Bay and covered the whole Steven Avery trial and fiasco. He now lives in the Twin Cities, right where I teach. Chris recently wrote an article for the Star Tribune about how documentaries are inherently biased. This is exactly what we’re tyring to teach the kids: that they must analyze everything in the media that they see and hear to really understand if it’s credible or not.

First, we read his article. I used DocentEDU to create an interactive, blended lesson for my students that they worked through at their own pace. It really was so awesome to have their online discussion answers to help spur discussion face to face. Then, Mr. Duffy was magnanimous enough to actually come and speak to my students.

My students were so engaged. Chris was a wonderful speaker and was so interesting. He hit on every single point that I had been trying to teach my students over the course of the unit. Our EQ had been, “Are documentaries a credible source of information?” Chris more than delivered. My students asked him questions (based on the DocentEDU lesson) for the whole class period. While reading their reflections afterwards, having Mr. Duffy as a guest really helped them think and learn about how they do and should consume media. The kids were still talking about it today.

Like I’ve said in other posts, I really encourage you to just reach out and find someone to come and speak to your class. I’ve had guests for every unit so far this year, and it always is the highlight of each unit. Just put a call out there and you never know who you might get!

Teaching Materials for Entrepreneur/Startup Unit

I am a believer in sharing, so I thought I’d share my materials from my entrepreneur/startup unit that I’ve posted about.

Here ya go!

  1. Logical Fallacies in Advertising/Types of ads
    1. Prezi is linked in the notes
    2. Teaches types of ads as well as why you can’t trust ads
  2. Advertising basics presentation
    1. Goes over basic advertising principles and design
  3. Advertising basics continued presentation
    1. (Target market information like demographics, psychographics, geographics, behavior)
  4. Review of target market, psychographics, geographics, behavior presentation
  5. Ad scavenger hunt activity
    1. analyzing ads for type of ad and target market
  6. Student handout for whole project
    1. 8 phases with directions and links for students
  7. Brainstorming for your target market 
    1. Doc that walks them through figuring out their target market based on advertising principles
  8. Designing your marketing campaign presentation
    1. Reminder hints for designing their campaign
  9. Rubric for judging final presentations
    1. How I judged my students

Social Justice Startups in 8th Grade

So, I posted a little while ago about how I was teaching a unit that is essentially a mini-startup incubator or entrepreneurial unit. I was very excited to start it off, and now we’re almost done with it. It has been a great experience for students and teachers throughout the unit. I thought I’d update a little bit here about how it’s going. When the unit’s over I will post the final products and a final reflection as well as all of my teaching materials.

1: Here’s the outline for the whole project, if you want to take all or parts of it. I will post all my teaching materials when the project is over. 

2: Some of the student ideas of organizations and products are here:

Social justice issue          Product/Service

Equal pay/pay equity   Club for young women to support each other being                                              CEOs.

Local Hunger                 App for grocery stores to donate food to foodshelves

Refugee crisis              Headphones pre-loaded with calming music for                                                      children who have PTSD

Pay Equity                     Ride sharing app for women to get to protests more                                              easily


3: Update on what we’ve done so far

Students have figured out their target markets, written a paper identifying that market segmentation, and have just finished creating their two advertisements for those target markets. They had to make one print ad (most used Canva) and then either a podcast commercial, a TV commercial, or a social media profile.

These next three days they will be presenting their whole marketing campaign to local business people, marketing professionals, and other community members.

Like I said, we I will update later with their final ads, the winners, and my whole gamut of teaching materials.

Advertising with a twist of social justice

So I just started a project with my 8th graders this week. It was not my project originally-credit goes to the curriculum already made. However, I changed the project’s focus to be more relevant and actual than anything we had in the curriculum and I’m loving it so far. Today was one of the best days of year so far, hands down.

First, let me explain the project. So originally, the goal was to teach media literacy, persuasion, and design and presentation skills by having them create a marketing campaign selling a product. They would then present their campaigns. I (with some help from colleagues of course because I get some of my best ideas from other teachers), decided to put a spin on this project.

To give the students an authentic audience and real-world purpose and relevance, they are taking a social justice issue and creating a product or service to try and fix one aspect of the issue. They already wrote persuasive essays about social justice issues, so now they are actually trying to solve those issues!

These are the phases of the project:

  • Decide on a social justice issue
  • Come up with a product/service which can solve part of the issue
  • Mock up their product
  • Design a logo along with a company name
  • Analyze their target market with demographics, psychographics, behavioral features, and geographics
  • Write a paper with the above features
  • Create a marketing plan which they must present to me
  • Make rough sketches of their minimum 2 ads (they can choose from print, social media, video commercials, or podcasts)
  • Create their ads using actual graphic design/video apps/sites
  • Present their campaigns to actual community members (Shark Tank style)
  • The best campaign from each class will be published in an article in a national Edtech magazine!

I really wish we could spend a whole semester or year even on this project. I wish that I could partner with other teachers in the school so that we could actually see their products/services come to fruition in real life. However, I don’t think that’s going to happen this year. I hope next year it will.

What’s also been great is that we’ve had several community members come in and talk to us already. We’ve had one entrepreneur, one marketing executive, and one graphic designer. That has been amazing as well. Their pitches will be done in front of local business people as well. So cool!

If this doesn’t hit critical thinking, I really don’t know what does! They are hypothesizing and problem solving and making and so much more!

Here are some things I’m doing as far as the tech involved (no textbook here, baby!)

  • The whole project is outlined in a Google Doc in which I have inserted a table of contents for easy navigation. It’s a big doc, so table of contents is a must.
    • Students are working in groups, so they are working on one doc that is shared and editable between them.
    • I gave the docs to the students through Google Classroom
  • Students are using Google Draw to create mock-ups of their actual products
  • Students are using Canva and Pixlr to create their logos for their companies. Canva is great because it makes the graphic design part so simple. Plus, students can share and work on the same project (just like in Google apps).
  • We have used Google Hangouts to work with community members who wanted to help but couldn’t come to class
  • They’ll be using Canva, Youtube Editor, and Pixlr to create their actual ads.
  • They’ll be choosing an app for their presentations during the Shark Tank pitches. I’ve left it open, but am guessing they’ll be using basic Google presentations or Prezi. Who knows what they’ll use!

Let me know what you think and if you take any of this project and use it yourself!