Monday, December 31, 2012

2013 Trends in Middle Grade Books

I was excited to meet my Goodreads reading goal of 300 books in 2012 and I'm looking forward to many great titles in 2013. I hope to get my students excited about reading in this new year as well.
I saw this fun list from the Scholastic editors that predicts some of the book trends in 2013.  
I thought it would be fun to add more titles to their list and create a bulletin board. I put together these two posters and you are welcome to use them to talk about trends with your students. I tried to find recent or soon to be released titles, but threw in a few older titles that fit the trend perfectly.

2013 slide 12013 slide 2

My Flickr Photostream. I found the font on Urban Fonts. If you are a member of NetGalley you can find many of these titles online.

When we return to school the first visit with my 6th graders will include an introduction to Six Flags Read to Succeed.  I'll be showing them a video clip of a roller coaster ride from the passenger's point of view. You can find several fun choices on Youtube. That should grab their attention. Then we'll talk about the guidelines for the challenge and hand out reading logs. If you have students in 6th grade or lower you can sign up for free.

Enjoy the remainder of your holiday break and I hope you have a wonderful start to 2013.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Commercials and Propaganda

This week I've been teaching my 6th graders about propaganda using Christmas commercials. This is a lesson I've done for the past two years. Each year I tweak it a little and every year it is a big hit with the students.
We start the lesson with a fun, engaging warm up. I used the Retail Alphabet Game as inspiration to create an alphabet using letters from different brands, restaurants and stores. I put all the letters on one slide and ask the students to write the alphabet down the side of a piece of paper and write down as many brands as they can identify. After a few minutes we go through each one and find out which student had the most correct. I especially enjoy seeing students that are not necessarily the most "academic" show off their memory skills. I explain that we used this game to illustrate how advertising influences us and gets into our brain. This is why it is so important to understand the techniques advertisers use to influence your life.
We quickly review the five types of propaganda that they learned in class. The five techniques are Name calling, Fear, Testimonial, Bandwagon and Plain Folks. Up next is an informal assessment. We watch commercials that I found on Youtube and they have to identify which technique(s) were used in each one. I try to find Christmas commercials when possible, but for some techniques that is difficult.
These are the playlists I have compiled for this year.
Name Calling
Plain Folks
This is one of my personal favorites from the testimonial category and always a hit with the kids.

To wrap up the day we take a quick slogan quiz. I put slogans on the board and they have to identify them as quickly as possible. This year we're adding a project to the lesson. Students will be creating a virtual poster on one of the techniques using Poster My Wall. This has become my go-to site for replacing Glogster. This is also my opportunity to introduce them to proper image citation. I look forward to seeing the creative ways they illustrate their assigned technique.

Do you have any creative Christmas lessons to share? I'm always on the look out for how to make topics relevant and fun for our students. I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday.