It’s important that students know how to identify and name problematic messaging in the media they consume. From Facebook to Twitter to Television and Websites, our students view hundreds of advertisements a day. Having already seen how problematic messaging exists in the media we consume, in our past lesson, this lesson will arm our students to identify the true meaning and message of the piece by viewing it through all three sides of the media triangle.
Students will need to already have a foundation using The Media Triangle. You are encouraged to use the Introduction to the Media Triangle assignment to familiarize them with the basic concepts.
This lesson is part of a large mini-unit on Teaching Gender Representation in the Media. It can be used as a stand-alone piece or part of a larger conversation.
As students enter the classroom, one of these images should be displayed at the front of the room. Teachers can either use an overhead projector, or they can use a photocopier to enlarge the image, and tape it to the board.
On their desks, students should each have a smaller copy of the advertisement, as well as three different coloured sticky notes.
Students should be told that each sticky note colour relates to a different side of the Media Triangle. For example:
- Green – Text
- Red – Audience
- Blue – Creation
Once the entire class has a uniform understanding of which colours will be used for which aspects they are free to annotate the image. To do so, students will look at their copy of the Media Triangle, and choose one question from each of the three sides.
They will write their response on the appropriate coloured sticky note, and then place it on their advertisement near the evidence for their response.
For example, if students answer “Who profits from this text?” they would take a blue sticky note and write Pepsi profits from this text, as it’s selling their product. They would then place that sticky note beside the can of Pepsi.
If students were answering “What stereotypes are present in this text?” then they would take a green sticky note and write This text shows that women must wear make up and lipstick. This sticky would then be placed near the dark red lips on their advertisement.
Once students have annotated the text in front of them, you can move on to the main focus of the lesson.
Having been given time to consider aspects of the Media Triangle at their own desk, students should now be ready to form into small groups. I recommend groups between four and six students in size.
Debriefing the Minds On Activity
The first part of the class will debrief the annotated advertisement, to ensure all students have a full understanding of how to use the media triangle to annotate their texts. This will be important, as there will be a release of responsibility that requires them to complete this task on their own for the second part of this lesson.
Small Group Discussions
Students should consolidate their sticky notes onto one of the sheets, still being sure to place them near the appropriate evidence on the advertisement.
While students discuss the questions they answered, and the evidence that supports their response, teachers can circulate the ensure that students have a full understanding of the material.
Sharing with the Class
Next, one student per group should bring their group’s sticky notes to the front of the classroom, and stick them to the large version of the advertisement at the front of the room.
Once all sticky notes have annotated the large advertisement, the teacher can highlight a number of key points, demonstrating all three sides of the media triangle.
Leave the class-annotated text on the board for students to reference in the second half of this lesson.
Fixing Contemporary Advertising
In the second half of this lesson, students will form small groups of one to three and be assigned the Fixing Contemporary Advertising Assignment. They will then need to select a Contemporary Advertisement to work with. They are free to select their own, or you may want to have them select from those attached below.
The assignment is broken into five main parts:
- Annotating the group’s advertisement
- Summarizing a related article
- Creating an engaging advertisement
- Making a class handout / brochure
- Presenting the information
Annotating the Group’s Advertisement
Similar to the Minds On activity at the start of this class, groups will annotate their advertisements by using the media triangle, focusing on all questions for all three sides.
While students can annotate their advertisement using sticky notes, I recommend that they use the digital tool ThingLink which is free for digital image annotations. If you’d like to know more about using this tool for this assignment please view the ThingLink Tutorial: How to annotate Texts using the Media Triangle.
Summarizing a Related Article.
Each group must also find an article that explores the problematic nature of contemporary advertisements. The article must specifically link advertisements to a problem in our society. It must relate to the same problem the students are attempting to fix with their piece.
A great starting place to find specific articles can be discovered using this Google Scholar Keyword Search. By using Google Scholar, students will also ensure that the texts they find are suitable for classroom use.
Creating an Engaging Advertisement
Having identified the problems with the existing advertisement, and the negative impact such messaging can have, students will be responsible for making a high quality piece that works towards solving the problems from the initial advertisement.
Making a Class Handout / Brochure
Dividing their information under appropriate headings and titles, students will create a handout or brochure that includes the information they gathered throughout the assignment.
The handout will feature the students’ written pieces as well as the created advertisement along side the original advertisement. the piece must be engaging for the reader. A folded booklet, or brochure is encouraged.
Presenting the Information
The oral marks for each group member will be based on their individual contribution to the overall presentation. Due to this, each member must participate in an equal share of the presentation as they communicate their ideas to the class.
As they leave the classroom, students should tell you who (if anyone) they will be working with, and they should show you the advertisement they will be working with.
This will set the groundwork to ensure they are prepared to work on their assignment during future classes.
Using The Media Triangle and creating a multi-faceted presentation, students will have demonstrated their knowledge, while discovering research articles that illustrate the dangers of media messaging.
They will now be prepared to move on to The Gender R.A.F.T. which will be a final written consolidation of their information.