Sunday, June 27, 2010

THINK Before you Buy: Media Literacy

Joann’s post about advertising was especially funny to me, the proud owner of both the Miracle Blade III knives and the complete set of ShamWOW towels. I really like as seen on TV stuff! Students and parents alike are barraged with advertisements in all forms of media throughout the day. An important part of media literacy we need to stress with our children is the ability to critically analyze the advertisements around them so they can make good purchasing decisions throughout their lives, instead of just buying the things with the flashiest ads.

I still remember the unit I did on advertising in 6th grade. We learned all different types of tools that advertisers use to get consumers attention, and we had lots of fun creating ads of our own. We used terms like “avant garde” and “bandwagon” to describe some of the techniques advertisers use to sell products. We could watch commercials and shout out, “weasel words!” or “testimonial!” (If you were stumped by some of those words, check here for a good list of common propaganda techniques used.) We used our knowledge to create our own ads, which helped make the whole experience even more memorable. You could implement media literacy like this in many different kinds of units by assigning an advertisement (with these different propaganda techniques) as the final project.

Federal Trade Commission-created Admongo touts their online media literacy game as a great “Ad-ucation” for kids. Their introduction describes Admongo as a place where advertising is all around you. “Online. Outside. On television. Who makes ads? How do they work? What do they want you to do? Here, you will explore, discover, and learn. Can you make it to the top? To get there, you'll answer:
Who is responsible for the ad?
What is the ad actually saying?
What does the ad want me to do”

Summer vacation is in full swing for many of our students. They will be surrounded by advertisements, but are they prepared to think critically about these ads? I signed up for Admongo, and had fun navigating with my arrow keys and spacebar through the advertisements and collecting coins. As we discussed in earlier posts, using games for learning can make subjects much more fun, especially for tweens. You can read a review of the game on the Connect Safely site, a great collection of media literacy tools and information.

Reading Rockets highlighted a PBS Kids Go! media literacy site that is also good for parents or teachers looking to increase kid’s awareness of advertising this summer. “Don’t Buy It” has different activities to help teach kids about the techniques advertisers use to make you want to buy their products. This is a very comprehensive site that contains activities, games, and interactive readings. I especially liked the Secrets of a Cover Model activity, the Money and Music section, and the Ad Detective game. The menu on the main page kept revolving to highlight different activities, so all different kinds of students should be able to find activities that are fun for them. Creative students will love creating their own ads and designing a cereal box. Like the game above, this site would be a nice tool for parents and kids at home during the summer as well as in a classroom setting.

As always, stay tuned to our Facebook and Twitter pages to receive the latest updates and resources for media literacy on The Gateway from Joann and Peggy. Search the huge collection of resources at for even more resources.

~Peggy's Corner - 6/25/2010~


  1. Thanks for sharing these links and your post. Media literacy is important and I don't think it's addressed enough. I also use the PBS "Don't Buy It" site with my students. You may want to check out the Dove Evolution video to give some more insight into media images. It goes through the process of preparing a model's image for an advertisement.

  2. Thanks for the tips! I really like the PBS Don't Buy it Site too. I thought that letting the students see how much preparation it takes to createe the perfect photo of a model was very valuable.


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