To encourage careful examination and analysis of the advertisements students brought in. To discuss the importance of purpose, thesis and support and to get students thinking about how to address these elements with their own writing.
Connection to Course Goals
Analyzing ads provides students with the practice they need to succeed with Portfolio I – Part C; it also serves the larger course goal of encouraging close examination of texts. We hope to get students used to the process of inquiry and exploration by asking difficult questions (in this case, questions related to the ad they’re examining) and seeking insightful answers. The discussion regarding purpose, thesis and support helps students see their writing as a situated rhetorical act and something worth reading beyond our class context.
Conference Sign-Up (2 minutes)
Pass around the conference sign up sheet for any students who may have been absent last class. Remind students of the conference expectations and requirements you covered last time.
Share Homework Responses (20 minutes)
The goal of this activity is to encourage students to share their interpretations of the ads they’ve responded to in groups. Group members should then encourage further critical thinking and analysis.
In groups of 3, have students share their ads first by passing them around to other group members (so everyone is familiar with the images). Then, ask them to complete the following:
Each student should discuss their analysis of the two ads they brought in. They should explain where the ads were found, who they are targeting, what they are assuming about their viewers, and what they imply or suggest about the product, the individuals in the ad, or about our society in general.
Then, group members should encourage further critical thinking about the messages in the ad. What questions do they have? What features of the ad do they think are interesting, peculiar, or worth further examination? What suggestions can they provide for further analysis? Group members should make it their goal to help each other identify the concealed messages and meanings in the ad.
Decide whether you want to collect students’ homework now or with their third portfolio. If you will collect it later, let them know you will collect it so they don’t misplace it.
Transition: Develop a transition here.
Discuss Purpose, Thesis and Support (20 minutes)
The aim of this discussion is to help students think about constructing a purpose, focus and thesis claim for their ad analysis essay.
Begin by asking, “What are some purposes for this Portfolio I – Part C paper? Why might people write this type of analysis? What do they hope to accomplish?” List ideas on the board as you go. Some responses might include:
To expose hidden arguments or ideas.
To respond favorably or critically to these concealed arguments.
To question the assumptions an ad makes.
To praise an ad for being socially responsible.
To criticize an ad for perpetuating false or dangerous messages.
Ask students to look at ONE of the ads they analyzed for today and the response they wrote for it. Then, tell them to jot down what their purpose would be if they were writing a response for this ad. What would they want to accomplish?
Explain that their purpose should lead them directly to a thesis. For example, if my purpose is to show why I disagree with the assumptions made in a Coors advertisement, my thesis would state something like: This ad for Coors makes many unfair assumptions that I disagree with. You might want to provide students with a few sample thesis statements (ones that you develop) on an overhead.
Once you discuss thesis claims, ask students to write out a practice thesis for their ad (this should reflect their purpose). Then, have a few volunteers put their theses on the board.
When you have a few samples on the board, ask the class to determine whether these theses work. Are they interpretive? Are they debatable? Are they narrow and specific? What suggestions can the class provide for clarifying or revising these claims?
Then, discuss support. How do students think they should support their thesis (most likely with details from the ad)? Explain that because these claims are interpretive (thus subjective and debatable), students need to support their interpretations with very specific examples from the ad. The more details they include, the more convincing their response will be.
Finally, ask students to list out a few specific examples or pieces of evidence from their ad to support their thesis statement.
** Sometimes students have difficulty interpreting arguments and messages in an ad. They may not have had experience doing this type of analysis so they tend to overlook significant messages in the text. If students are having trouble seeing the meanings in their ads, they need to spend more time analyzing the details of the ad before they can arrive at a purpose, focus or thesis. After conducting this activity you might remind students to consult guidelines for analysis on pg. 173 in their PHG (especially if they’re uncertain of their purpose or thesis).
Print off the sample ad analysis essay from the Writing Studio and bring it to class. If you want, you may prefer to do one of the professional essays in addition or as a replacement for the sample ad analysis essay--for example, the Adam Forest essay or the Karyn Lewis essay in the PHG. That would mean that you only have two professional essays to do in class for the meeting after the conferences (the Lewis and the Kilbourne essays, if you chose to do the Forest essay for Wednesday). If you assign one of these essays, be sure to have your students bring their PHG--otherwise, no students will have a copy of the essay in front of them to discuss.