Writing@CSU Activities Bank

Interpretive Response Main Ideas and Summary Activities

Contributed by Liz Story Jackson


Goals:  To help students learn to identify main ideas


Implications: Choose a song (or set of songs) that has a distinct message or theme.  Have students identify the main idea(s) as an activity in showing that main ideas can often be implied rather than stated outright. Evidence can be pulled from the song (particular lyrics, images, etc.) to help illustrate the main idea (showing not just telling).


Advertisements also contain many implications and assumptions.  Choose an ad with a distinct audience and goal.  Be sure to discuss the rhetorical situation surrounding the ad (the magazine or paper in which it was featured, the creators, its purpose beyond just selling the product.  This is an important distinction to make:  for example, we never just buy orange juice for orange juice's sake—there is always a greater appeal to the ideas of "freshness," etc. 


Assumptions: Have students identify and discuss the assumptions the ad creators made about their audience and what implications selling the product might have on its purchasers and ultimately culture.  (For example, an ad for Scott Kay jewelry (whose slogan is "Always exceed her expectations") might illustrate the situation of a male proposing to a female.  Particularly in light of the fact that most jewelry ads are aimed at women, what are the assumptions here and what are the implications?  (What expectations are created for women?  For men?  About relationships?)