Tag Archive for Digital Citizenship

Blogs as Text: Overview

It is difficult to get 6-12th graders to read.  This isn’t even an argument about getting them to read well, closely or critically.  They just don’t read.  Sometimes they don’t even read things that they would actually enjoy like The Catcher in the Rye or The Things They Carried.  And it’s infuriating.  As teachers, we often bemoan the lack of reading our students do. But what’s to be done?  Offering student choice is important but it can be daunting even for a seasoned teacher.  Finding resources that are well written and engaging can prove exhausting.  And in light of technology’s effect on publication shouldn’t students be reading a variety of online texts?

It’s no wonder we struggle.

My argument is not that we do away with Heart of Darkness or The Scarlet Letter or even the glorious Light in August.  Students need to be challenged and held accountable.  But I do want students to read texts they find enjoyable without sacrificing journalistic and literary merit.

So many educators argue the need for students to critically analyze a variety of texts.  And so many more argue the importance of using blogs in the classroom.  But frequently those two arguments don’t overlap in a way that identifies blogs as texts to supplement student reading.  In all fairness, it can be difficult to find blogs that students can read consistently for style, argument and substance.  And yet, they do exist.  It is the goal of this week’s post to identify them and discuss how to use them in classroom.  These posts will consider a variety of student interests (i.e. science, technology, cars, pop culture) without sacrificing quality in hopes that as an educator you can have students spend a “unit” or even a quarter towards studying and reading blogs.

Super Bowl 2012: Car Commercials

I do believe that, taken all together, Chevy’s commercials in Super Bowl XLVI were hands down the best.  From indie music to humorous takes on the apocalypse they presented a good/fresh take on the tired car add.  But, it would be unfair to simply examine Chevy commercial after Chevy commercial.  Even though I was born near Detroit, it can’t just be about the Motor City.

This Super Bowl had some solid car commercials.  They might not rival Chrysler’s “Imported from Detroit” commercial, but they’ll work, offering examples of teamwork, high school “expectations,” and the animal affections discussed in yesterday’s post.  Use the ads and the accompanying questions below as starting points for implementing a smaller unit based solely on car commercials.

Hyundai “All for One

  1. Examine the limited dialogue between characters in the commercials.  Focus specifically on words like “impossible” and “try.”  What is the connotation of these phrases as they relate to the action of the ad?
  2. Why would Hyundai choose the Rocky theme song to sell their product?  Consider their origin, how their seen as a car manufacturer, even their car design/price as you respond.
  3. List as many categories of Hyundai employees as possible.  What is the argument being made by their inclusion?
  4. Humor?  Identify it.
  5. The tagline argues, “There’s always a way.  That’s just our way.”  Explain the purpose of this specific repetition (epistrophe).  What is implied?

Chevy “Happy Grad

  1. Explain how this commercial plays upon a “preconceived” notion about graduation and gifts.
  2. Identify two ways in which humor is created via the parents’ interactions with each other.
  3. Explain two ways in which this high school grad is characterized. For each explain what this characterization is supposed to imply to the audience.
  4. Many car commercials, read Lexus holiday ads here, focus on using elaborate bows on cars in an effort to suggest the “size” of the gift.  Examine the commercial again.  Look for the red bow.  Decide why its inclusion creates humor.
  5. This commercial was the winning entry in the Chevy Route 66 Super Bowl ad contest.  What significance results in having an individual create/construct this ad instead of a company?  When 2012 Super Bowl air space runs 3.5 million dollars per 30 seconds, what does Chevy have to gain from using this type of an ad?

 

Volkswagen “The Dog Strikes Back” and Making of Video

The great thing about the Volkswagen commercials is that the company also releases a “making of video.”  It’s a great way to get students to reconsider the way in which we culturally view advertising.  Have students watch the making of video after viewing the commercial as a way of deepening your discussion about the rhetoric of today’s advertising.

  1. What is the advantage of having limited narration?
  2. What role does music play in telling the story?  Explain the impact.
  3. Identify the elements of humor employed.  What impact do they have on the audience since the actor is a dog? Why build an entire narrative around a character who can’t speak?
  4. Is the Star Wars theme, a nod to last year’s “The Force” commercial necessary?  Explain whether or not this “nod” to last year’s Super Bowl commercial helps or hinders the narrative.

  1. What argument is made about Volkswagen’s ads and their impact on a global audience?
  2. Identify the elements of humor employed in the “making of” video.  Explain why they exist.  Isn’t this supposed to be just an explanation of how the commercial was shot?
  3. What does the attention to detail in the Stars Wars section convey to the audience?
  4. Consider the amount of time that went to into constructing the costumes and the set what argument is being made about consumers and Volkswagen’s relationship to them?