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.


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