This month I visited Paris and I spent many days wondering museums. My daughter loves fashion so we went to the Musee des Arts decoratifs for a quick visit. I was delighted to see an exhibit about advertising. I had spent the week viewing so many different types of art. The advertising exhibit was quirky and fun. As soon as I saw the first display of fans, my head began designing media lessons for my class next fall. As I walked through the exhibit my mind began racing about all of the missed opportunities that present themselves. I feel very passionately that educators need to teach students to read all texts, regardless of their form or purpose. I am always seeking opportunities to gather media and bring it in the classroom. I think students of all ages need to understand the meaning and purpose behind texts on clothing, shoes, bags, food items and bill boards. Our children are immersed in a society of constant text and images and we need to help them navigate the texts. In our province, we have a full media literacy strand in our Language 1-8 document. I hear many teachers complain that they haven’t ‘done’ media yet and need a project to do before the next reporting period. Many educators struggle with locating items, designing lessons and coming up with media creation tasks. As I walked around the advertising exhibit I wished I could have captured it and showed my colleagues some of the wonderful ideas. Here is an outline of what I saw and what it could mean for educators in their classrooms.
There was a display of key chains over time. Yes, simple key chains that showed images and texts from different advertisers. It was a history of products over time. There was a beautiful display of fans. Simple hand fans made of paper, cardboard and tissue. The fans showed art work over time but it also showed advertising of events. Fans that were distributed at sporting events were displayed. I recently attended a grade eight graduation in which the attendees were given cardboard fans with the program and graduates names listed. The fans had a stick inserted in the middle and were very functional for a hot evening.
There was also a display of Perrier cans. Yes, advertising on cans. Coca Cola cans displayed the World Cup images over time. There were shopping bags with logos and texts showing stores throughout the years. There were bottles showing different shapes and advertising different products. There were endless examples of items that could be deconstructed and possibly recreated with students of all ages.
I strongly believe that it’s important to make learning opportunities as authentic as possible. Simply don’t pick an item off the list but watch and observe your students. What opportunities are presenting themselves in your classroom each day? Do the students wear lanyards with advertising? Do your students bring in Smart phones with covers? Do your students bring in paper or plastic bags with logos or slogans? Do your students have key chains from special events? Do your students bring in chip bags that have advertising or contests? Do your students have stickers on their laptops or stickers on their binders? Could you start a conversation about what you see in your classroom? Gather examples, go online and find photos of other examples of the same product. Could you then deconstruct the advertising and have students make their own? I encourage you to look for opportunities that present themselves and work with your students to develop some media lessons that are meaningful to them.
Here is a summary of times that could be discussed, explored, deconstructed and then recreated. I would love to hear your ideas of what you do or did with your students too. Lets share and more importantly lets start collecting items we see over the summer and gather together media pieces for opportunities that might present themselves throughout the year. The Olympics is coming up and lots of companies start displaying items creatively. Look for pop cans, bags, and food items that advertise the athletes. I encourage educators to go beyond the traditional, ‘design a poster.’ Seize the moments that present themselves each day.
Here are some possible media items with links to some examples for you to view to help get your creative juices flowing.
shopping bags, cloth, paper, plastic
Food items- packaging
Water bottles (Andy Warhol cans of Perrier)
Laptop cases or skins
Or look at one product over time and investigate the many ways the company has used items to advertise their product. For Examples,
The links aren’t intended for classroom use. Please preview and select your own images suitable for your class.