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Getting ready for Super Bowl and teaching with the “text” of life

If you are a teacher, getting ready for next weekend might involve more than picking up a bucket of wings.  While the kids cheer their teams on with their friends and family, they could be thinking a little more critically, by reading the text of commercials. Really.

Annually, Frank Baker’s Media Literacy Clearinghouse offers an updated compilation of resources on his Using Super Bowl Ads in the Classroom.  He shares lesson plans, media literary materials, news articles and streaming video, reminding us that educators can legally record and use Super Bowl ads in instruction.

(BTW,  don’t miss Daryl Cagle’s collection of Super Bowl cartoons.)

For me, Frank’s reminder comes right on the heels of an exciting session I attended at EduconThe Closer Citizen: Linking Close Reading to a Careful Analysis Of Media and Our Lives.

Chris Lehman and Kate RobertsTeachers College Reading & Writing Project (Columbia University)–also pointed to the value of analyzing the media we encounter every day to uncover messages, biases, points of view that can remain hidden in texts and in life. 
Chris and Kate made their case modeling the use of such resources as a Nerf Vortex commercial and the lyrics of Justin Bieber’s song Boyfriend to inspire a scaffolded discussion of text and to model close reading strategies.
Strategies used in the careful, purposeful re-reading of text, should not be reserved for the analysis of classics, traditional primary sources, and complex journal articles.
Chris and Kate contend we can gather text evidence, we look closely at lenses, patterns and ideas with the messages we regularly encounter in media.

With 24-hour news cycles and the constant presence of screens in our lives, information rushes past all of us at an astonishing rate. It feels urgent to slow down, read closely, and uncover subtle messages in texts. It is all too easy to read fiction and nonfiction texts for just “the gist.” Unfortunately, it is just as easy to only grab the overt points in media, games, even our daily interactions, only to catch the broadest points and miss the important nuances. To be a 21st Century Citizen is, in part, to be a careful consumer, in the pursuit of becoming more powerful creators.

Our lively discussion and their model strategies are archived in this video. (Skip over the noisy active learning parts.):

Also from Chris and Kate:

Among the updated resources on Frank’s site:


Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


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