Teaching Media Messages in Fourth Grade

In this day and age, it seems only natural to integrate technology into a unit about media messages. Students are exposed to advertisements every time they watch a YouTube video or a cable television show, or download an app on their iPhone or iPad. I believe it is of the utmost importance that students understand the nature and purpose of these media messages, particularly because of how sophisticated the technology of advertising has become. A student’s Facebook page will display advertisements targeted specifically to that student’s interests; whether or not the student is aware of how their actions on the website affect those advertisements is another story.

In a classroom setting, there are many ways to teach media messages and their significance. Teachers can provide examples of auditory, visual, and written messages to create an authentic learning experience. While students are analyzing and interpreting these examples, it is important to also teach them how to critique the validity of the message. Like it or not, advertisers will often mislead or even lie in order to promote their product, and students must know this. As a culmination to the study of media messages, students should be given the opportunity to create their own. This is a perfect opportunity for differentiation; students can play to their own strengths and demonstrate their understanding of a concept in a unique and creative way.

Every student in every classroom has their own learning style. The following is a list of some ideas for how to address various learning styles while teaching media messages in fourth grade:

-Matching a picture or description of an advertisement to the category of media message (auditory, visual, or written). This activity allows students to put a “face to name”, so to speak. It addresses the needs of visual learners who need to see an example of something in order to retain it. 

-Identifying the target audience of a media message through brainstorming and small group discussion. This activity encourages students to use higher level thinking such as making inferences. It is often very challenging for students to make inferences while reading literature, but in a smaller and more familiar context- a McDonalds commercial, for instance- I believe the concept is much easier to grasp.

-Creating a commercial using Vimeo or Animoto. Students can choose their own product or company to advertise while following a rubric outlining requirements such as planning, time length, characteristics, and written components. I would assign this as an independent project as opposed to a group activity in order to better gauge each individual student’s understanding of how to create a media message.



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