The learning scenario I implemented is ‘The power of advertisements’ by Olivera Ilic.
Moreover, there is a bit of inspiration taken from another resource found in the Teaching With Europeana blog and having the same topic: ‘Advertising’ by Alenka Taslak.
I used the first scenario as my main source of teaching material and techniques, but I adopted the student creation orientation of the second scenario (p.4), which encourages kids to design, present and reflect on their work. I teach fifteen 11-year-old students, so I made some adaptations of the scenarios selected.
Advertisement and methods
The context of implementation is the 4th unit of the Greek language course book for the 6th grade of Primary School. The topic of advertisements is the point where the two aforementioned resources meet the national curriculum (Greece). The school textbook supporting the subject contains one part dedicated to advertising. Led by media literacy concerns, the curriculum developers have designed some activities aiming at helping students reveal the persuasive methods used in advertising. There are, also, some guidelines for creating an effective ad, taking into account the appropriate language (vocabulary, grammar, sentence structure) and visual arrangement. For instance, the guidelines suggest the use of imperative, comparatives, suitable punctuation, witty slogans and positive words.
Before looking at Europeana, I knew I was going to ask my students to design their own authentic advertisements. But while scrolling in the blog, I came across some ideas to enhance the learning goals in these ways:
- Examining old advertisements, commenting, comparing them with new ones and giving a historical/time perspective on visual literacy. How have aesthetics changed? How technology progress and trends in communicative codes are related to such changes? What is common between vintage and modern ads?
- AIDA criteria as another tool to analyze old ads and our texts and as another opportunity to address the relationship between the grammatical or syntax choices and their psychological effects/reader’s perception. Students checked if their posters align with the AIDA principles (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) and thought of improvements. We discussed the connection of the criteria given in the textbook (mostly referring to specific language choices) and the criteria stated in the AIDA acronym (the effect on the reader). That is to say, an exclamation mark can make the difference! And…go for imperative to provoke Action! (I encourage you to read the scenario in order to understand better my implementation).
- ‘2 stars and 1 wish’ method to support peer-assessment: A nice method with sticky notes, which emphasizes the positive aspects of a product and promotes critical thinking in a safe environment. I used this method not for evaluating oral presentation skills, as the authentic scenario suggests according to a goal-setting about English language learning. I suggested this method for the peer-assessment of students’ advertising posters.
- Meeting their thinking: This is an extension I devised, taking advantage of the Padlet providing other students’ contributions to a task. First, I opened the advertisements, invited students to proceed to modifications so as to make the ads more appealing. Then I showed them the version of other students. Did we think similarly?
- Drink: Now and Then: This is another activity I came up. Some students happened to design ads for drinks (milk and juice). Then, we tried a comparison between their ideas and milk and juice advertisements from the past. Below, you can find the kids’ drawings and here are the first clicks used for this contrast.
The advertisements created by students is the peak of this learning process since they were joyful and collaborative while designing. Their interesting questions and comments covered various dimensions of the lessons (process, content).
“It is a dull advertisement”, “They had not good printers” “They did not like vivid colours” (making assumptions about old advertising styles).
“It is nice to comment on someone else’s work” (after implementing peer-assessment).
“Why is this in English?” (for the Padlet). This gave us a chance to discuss about the Europeana context and the principles around cultural heritage and collaborative projects.
I reckon that the combination of a national curriculum and two scenarios of Teaching With Europeana blog refreshed my practice and expanded the outcomes of a unit I had taught once again in the past in a more minimal style. What struck me the most was the extra activities I added up, based upon this combination and on the idea of using students texts next to other “official” texts.
Advertisements are such an amazing kind of text to analyze and I would like the Europeana collection of vintage ads to be enriched in order to be an even more useful learning material!
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