Back to School

03 Sep

If you're new to my website or my blog, welcome. I use this space to talk about teaching and learning, and to reflect on my professional practice. Tonight, #K12Media (an educational chat on Twitter that I co-moderate) will be all about "Back to School". We hope to share ideas, lessons and resources to start the year. 

One key concept for my grade 11 classes is Representation. We spend a good deal of time in the course talking about how people, places and things are represented in media (which includes literature). My idea for this year: why not pick your favourite "Back to School" commercial and put it in the media triangle? This simple activity can fit into a shortened period and allows students to see how we're going to analyse a variety of media works. Teachers can have students vote on which commercial to use, then use YouTube or the company's website to find the commercial. Alternatively, you can browse around and select a sample. 

For the purposes of this post, let's take a look at the Old Navy commercial, "Why Choose?"

What is the first thing you notice about this commercial? What sounds, colours and images are present? How are they used to create the mood/tone of the commercial?

Who is in the commercial?

Who is the intended audience of the commercial?

How might the commercial appeal to its intended audience?

What colours are used in the commercial? Are they effective? Why/why not?

What does the classroom look like? How is it similar to or different from your classroom?

What is the "story" of the commercial? 

How is humour used? Nostalgia? Stereotypes?

The questions are endless. I don't want to post an exhaustive list, as I'm hoping we can explore the idea further in tonight's chat. The idea is that, by the end of the analysis, the class should be able to see how representations of people, places and even objects are carefully constructed by people for a particular purpose. Hopefully, students will also begin to explore how audiences negotiate meaning and how multiple readings of a text are possible. This commercial is part of a series, and (after analysing one in class) students may explore the other commercials in the series to see how other groups are targeted (see especially "mom" and "dad". You may also want to explore the "Pantsed" commercial (Who might find this commercial funny? Why? Who might not find this commercial funny? Why choose this as a topic to sell accessories?).

There are many examples. Do you have a commercial (from this year) that you think would be interesting to explore in the classroom? Let me know in the comments!

Hope to see you at #K12Media tonight.