Personal loyalty in 21st Century America is a strange phenomenon. People often don't know their own neighbors — yet corporations can create "communities" around beloved brands such as Harley-Davidson or Apple.
This five-step lesson allows students to learn about advertising and find common ground with their peers by coming together to create a "brand" for themselves.
Step 1 The teacher assigns students to groups of four or five, preferably with peers they do not know well.
Step 2 The teacher distributes a questionnaire (see below) to each group. Group members take turns answering each question. The questions are sequenced from superficial to deep: once students are comfortable revealing more superficial things about themselves, they will warm up to the more difficult questions.
Step 3 After the students have answered the questions, ask the class if anyone learned something new about someone they did not know before this exercise. Next, ask if students learned of any similarities between themselves and others in their group.
Step 4 Speak to the students about how businesses and organizations create group identity through brand identities and slogans. Have students brainstorm popular examples of brand identities they know. Then each group should brainstorm, discuss and finally vote on a group name, logo, and slogan they'd like to go by in the classroom. Their brand should be based on something that all group members have in common.
Step 5 All group members create a small decorative sign to hang above their group. If you want a sturdy, uniform and cheap medium for making signs, use manila folders, cut along the fold.
The Helping Hands: "We love to help you and it shows!" Students in this group found out they'd all like to someday become either teachers, firefighters, nurses, or police officers — all helping professions.
1. When is your birthday?
2. What do you like to do for fun after school?
3. What is your favorite subject?
4. What is your least favorite subject?
5. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
6. If you could have lunch with anyone living or dead, who would it be and why?
7. What do you want to be when you grow up?
8. If you could have three wishes and none could be for money or more wishes, what would they be and why?
9. What is one characteristic that you like best about yourself (cannot be physical)?
10. What is one aspect of your personality you most would like to change?
11. What is one of your dreams?
12. What is one of your fears?
The Royal Flush: "The best of the best!" Students in this group found out they all enjoyed playing card games while camping.
—Melissa Magliola of Casa Roble Fundamental High School in Orangevale, CA
Teach critical media literacy to your students with Reading the Media in High School ($23.95), by Renee Hobbs, who is one of the founders of the media literacy field. ISBN 0-8077-4738-6. www.tcpress.com