Robert F. Rhone
Over the course of the unit students will daily add an entry into their 'What, Why?' journals, then participate in a class activity. These activities will include readings, note taking, group activities, etc. Below is a list of the journal entries as well as what the general objective of the day will be. Each of these lessons are designed for a forty five minute class period. The 'what, why' questions are used as an initiation at the beginning of each class. I always put my initiation questions in the same spot on the white board in my room. This is a good way to get students busy at the beginning of class, as well as get the quiet quickly. Also at the end of each class, as closure, students complete an exit-slip. This is a quick way to get some feedback from students about what they learned that day in class. It also forces them to practice writing out their ideas. I use the exit-slip answers to judge how effective the lesson was and whether or not I can move on to the next topic. If the exit slips are way off I can review the objective again or maybe even re-teach the topic.
Day one and two: The cycle of marketing
What, Why?: What were your impressions of the kinds of advertisements you saw after school yesterday? Why do you think they were placed where they were? Debriefing about this homework assignment will enlighten students about how much advertising they are actually exposed to. The teacher should prompt the students with questions like: Are you more likely to use these products because of their advertisements? What parts of Hull's equation are being altered by the advertisements you see? What parts of Maslow's pyramid are being fulfilled by these products? What kinds of conclusions can you make about your list of advertisements?
Activity: In class the students will view parts of the PBS special The Merchants of Cool. This can be done in a number of ways; there are actually a number of great classroom ideas on the Website where you can find the documentary in its entirety. (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/cool/) I like to have students complete 3-2-1 activities while watching such films. They identify three facts from the video, two opinions about those facts, and one connection to their own life. An important part of the film that should be emphasized is the cycle of marketing that they discuss at length. Which is simply that it is difficult to discern the difference between authentic product development and products created using market information gathered fro teenagers. A company makes a product ----> teenagers buy the product ----> the product is cool ------>companies make the product. Where does this cycle begin?
Also you can present sections of Malcolm Gladwell's Cool Hunters article you can find online. In the article Gladwell explores almost all the same issues that the film does.
Closure: Was there anything in this film that surprised you about how companies gather information about you? Is this fair? Are you comfortable with it? Will this change your behavior at all?
Extension: Students will write a paragraph summarizing the ideas presented in the film and article. Sentence starter: The Merchants of Cool explains that big companies manipulate teenagers in many different ways, I believe that this practice is.....
Day three: Humanistic Theory
What, Why?: What was the last food purchase you made? Why did you choose this specific item over something else? These questions should lead to a class discussion of the hierarchy of needs. As well as introducing the persuasion of modern advertising. Some questions the teacher can ask during this discussion include: Have you ever seen an advertisement for the product you chose? Did you buy this food item to consume for a meal, or a snack? Was it absolutely necessary purchase? Was this a snack?
Activity: During the class activity students will read an excerpt from their textbook about Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs. In a group of three they will read and complete a pyramid graphic organizer of the different level of needs. After the groups are finished the students will complete the same pyramid organizer on the board.
Closure: As an exit slip students will give an example of something that fulfills a need for each section of the pyramid. I.E. Physical Need- A bowl of cereal, Safety- A house to live in, etc.
Extension: For homework students will write a five-sentence paragraph explaining how far up the pyramid they think they are, which sections do they have a mastery of in their own life. Each student will receive a sentence starter to begin their paragraph and keep them on track. Sentence starter: In my life, the sections of Maslow's pyramid I have mastered are....., the ones I have not are....... .
Day four: Drive reduction Theory
What, Why?: What instincts do we as humans act on? Why does it sometimes seem we don't have any choice over our actions? These questions should lead to a class discussion that introduces what kinds of drives humans have, hunger drive, sex drive, etc. as well as introducing Clark Hull's theory of drive reduction.
Activity: Hull uses a Formula for what he calls "global behavior." (Background information about Hull could be found in A History of Modern Psychology) The class activity is to first explore what this equation is. Then use it to predict each other s behavior. This could be done in groups or individually during class time. To keep students engaged the teacher can choose all kinds of bizarre behavior and find out how likely it would be for each student or group to actually perform that behavior. For example, what is the likelihood that one of the male student in class would wear a dress to school, or what is the likelihood that a student will use foul language in class. Together with the class discuss the possible implications of these behaviors. What are the consequences of these actions? Do the consequences change the likelihood of behavior? What behavior can be modified by consequences and what behavior can not be modified? The equation can be simplified for classroom application as follows: B= H x I x D. B is the likelihood that the behavior will happen, H is the habit strength for that behavior, I is the incentive received for the behavior, D is the drive state for the behavior. (adopted from Shultz)
Closure: Students will complete an exit-pass answering the following question. Explain why you it is almost certain that after being underwater for a few minutes you will come to the surface for airr, using Hull's equation. What are the values for H, I, and D?
Extension: For homework students will write a paragraph to explain what they learned during class, and how they can use Hull's theory to better understand their own life the sentence starter is as follows: According to Clark Hull humans are more likely to behave in a certain way when.....
Day five: Do advertisements motivate us?
What, Why?: What things do you think about before make any kind of purchase? Why are these things considered? This discussion should lead to a conversation about how we are more motivated by advertising then we think we are. Activating prior knowledge this conversation is a great time to return to what conditioning is and how that shapes behavior.
Activity: Students will view different advertisements and evaluate them for effectiveness. The teacher will gather many print advertisements and collect them in either power point or overhead slide show. A few good places to find these are either in magazines or newspapers. The internet has an endless supply of advertisements that one can choose from. Picking a few with some substance is essential for this to be successful. Choose some from the food industry, some for different banking institutions etc. While viewing these advertisements students will evaluate them on a few different factors. For each image they will answer these following questions:
What is this image advertising?
Does this advertisement make me want their product?
Would Hull or Maslow say that this advertisement play on our needs or drives, if
so which ones?
Closure: Students will complete an exit pass answering this question: How do advertisers use the human condition to their advantage?
Extension: For homework students will complete an advertising chart. They will keep track of as many advertisements as they notice on their trip home from school that day. They will simply identify what the advertisement id for and whether or not they use the product.
Day six: The question of happiness
What, Why?: What do you feel when you buy something you really want? Why do you think you feel this way? We all have this feeling of happiness when we purchase the next thing that is on our wish list, that next CD, new iPod, the latest fashion, etc. This is a difficult question to grasp, for even the most mature adult. Most of my students can't really put their finger on their own emotions, but practicing this skill is essential, so if they make an attempt I am happy. Some questions to prompt this discussion include: What makes us happy? Did that thing we bought fulfill a need or reduce a drive? How have we been conditioned to allow stuff to make us happy?
Activity: This an individual activity. Students will compile a list of things that make them happy. Simply bullet-point at least twenty things in their life that makes them happy. Modeling this is essential, so during instruction the teacher should show the class their own list of things that make them happy. After the lists are compiled they should be organized into groups on the board. Have students come up to the board and fill in things that are material in one group and immaterial in another group. After each item have students write a number between 1-10. This number represents how long the happiness derived from this thing lasts, one being a very short amount of time and ten being a very long amount of time. After each student has been able to add something to the list a class discussion should be conducted to understand the list as it is. Some questions this discussion should answer are:
Can you explain using Hull or Maslow why something on the board might make
Why are the numbers placed where they are?
Do material items really make us happy?
When do material items stop making us happy?
Depending on the cooperation of the students and their level of participation in this activity a good back to this is to read excerpts from The art of Happiness by The Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler. There a number of brief stories especially in the chapter entitled 'the sources of happiness' they could be really beneficial to share with your students. After reading an excerpt student could answer questions like:
How did the person in the story resolve their discontent?
How might Hull or Maslow explain this persons unhappiness?
Closure: Exit pass question: How is this information going to change your focus in life?
Extension: Identify the items on the board with the highest numbers attached to them. Come up with some ideas about how you could increase these things in your life.