Tune into the Tone: What Should We Hear Here?

byAisha Collins

Introduction

Despite my students' current economic standings, they are constantly exposed to and bombarded with propaganda and advertisement which have a common goal of persuading them to buy something. How is this relevant? "Children spend the majority of their days consuming mass media. On average, children spend four-and-a-half hours a day using television, video games and computers. Yet children are not provided with the tools needed to evaluate and analyze the media messages they see." (http://pbskids.org/dontbuyit/teachersguide.html) This unit will teach my students the importance of understanding their needs versus wants in a financial situation where there is a very limited amount of money and resources.

The area in which I teach is a housing project located on the south side of Chicago, Illinois and was built in 1945 to satisfy the needs of African American veterans returning from World War II. The residents are 97% African American and the area is surrounded by numerous manufacturing plants, former steel mills, waste dumps and landfills. The students in this area are families that are 99% low income, with quite a few coming from shelters in the surrounding areas.

This unit ties media's use of persuasion, which is undoubtedly part of their daily lives, and uses it to teach the art of rhetoric in persuasion. We will focus on various aspects of how persuasion is important. It will give students the opportunity to listen to, analyze, and write speeches and advertisements for various reasons and topics.

Rationale

In the urban communities in Chicago Public Schools, parents as well as the students have grown to have a common interest in what technologies are necessary in their households as well as their toy boxes. Things such as the latest gaming systems, electronic equipment, computers, cell phones, and accessories are found to be the norm in every household, yet the expenses are far beyond the household's spending capabilities.

There is an overwhelming population of students in my current area that are considered living below poverty levels yet deem the same things as being necessary as the middle and upper class citizens in surrounding areas. What they have yet to consider is what causes these commonalities. I want to teach my students that being persuasive is a very powerful skill that moves and shapes our desires.

Students need this exposure at a very young age because it is at this time that they are beginning to understand themselves and the feelings that impact them daily. This is also an important time to get students excited about learning and what they are capable of accomplishing through their own reading and interpretations. Of all the language arts, listening and speaking are those most often used on a daily basis at home, school and work or in the community.

This unit will allow me to address my student's weaknesses at this age because students need to build critical thinking and analytic skills which are important across the curriculum. With the use of dissecting the use of media the students will be able to distinguish between realism and fantasy, and consider what information is of value and what is not.

Tune into the Tone is unlike what I have ever seen being taught in the Second Grade Classroom. It is a new and innovative way of tying the curriculum and life skills together to aid the growth of the whole student as in holistic teaching. So often we, as teachers, stop short in our teaching of a curriculum by not elaborating on teachable moments and eliminating the use of outside resources and technology to build upon what we are required to teach.

My students are required and expected to be able to solve disputes amongst themselves at these age and it is important that they are equipped with the skills to persuade and understand that even emotions determine whether they will concede, change their mind, or do nothing at all. Through this study the student will be able to determine what makes people sway in decision making. What makes people angry? What calms them down? Students need to understand that in order for people to listen to them, they must show them that they are trustworthy.

In connection with this aspect of speeches the unit will bridge the gap in speaking in our learning environments. Most students are "talked at" and are not encouraged to be thinkers, but to be mere responders. So often we present a lesson and expect students to act as sponges as we pour out knowledge instead of allowing a transfer of thought and expression. This unit will address this problem by taking a look at speaking as a function. They will look at speech as having purpose and an intent purpose. This will also address some of the social downfalls of this urban community. As students study the elements that persuasive speech uses, they will be able to be persuasive and therefore able to use higher level thinking in their evaluation of things that they hear as well as that which they read.

Being persuasive is something that deserves a lot of practice and is definitely something that students at this age are able to do. They are able to understand and decipher an authors purpose and therefore able to write or create their own form of persuasive tactics given a specific purpose.

Background – How is Rhetoric used in Persuasion

Rhetoric exists to affect the giving of decisions ("Aristotle' Rhetoric", Book II, Chapter 1) Rhetoric is more commonly known as a style of speaking that is used to make the listener make a decision or take a certain action.

The information presented in the 2010 Yale National Seminar: Persuasion in Democratic Politics by Professor Bryan Garten, has proven to be an essential tool in understanding the persuasion strategies used in media today. The study of Socrates and Aristotle who were Greek Philosophers demonstrated very significant use of rhetoric in world history.

When considering the art of persuasion we must ask two preliminary questions: Who is your audience? Is your audience in a position to be persuaded? Second: Follow the five steps that Cicero recommended: 1. Consider ideas about all the possible ways to be persuasive in your given situation. When considering your ideas go through the three types of proof that Aristotle outlines: ethos, logos, and pathos:

Ethos: How can you make yourself seem like the kind of person that the audience can trust? When addressing this detail, as a speaker we must seem decent and be someone with good common sense judgment, and we must be reassuring that we are not acting out of our own self-interest. When I think of ethos I consider how when we listen to any political figure we consciously or subconsciously first desire to find this person to be trustworthy. We consider if this person has made good decisions in the past, do they stand for against our current views, and whether they present compelling evidence when necessary.

Logos: What argument or reason will work best in the situation? First, what is it that we want the audience to do? Consider this: make a certain judgment about something that happened in the past; feel a certain way about themselves in the present; or to do something in the future. Logos leads the listener to: (1) reach a judgment about something that happened in the past usually guilt or innocence, right or wrong (2) have a feeling about the present by describing the current moment, its importance, and how the position came to be (3) go into action by explaining what action should be, present the result of the action, and explain why the action would be good for the audience.

Pathos: What do you want to make the audience feel when you finish? Should they feel happy, sad, angry, proud, fear, hopeful, resolved, or brave? Pathos incites an emotion. If the presenter expects an angry crowd, one may convince the audience that they are being insulted or belittled to incite anger or a guilty verdict.

Aristotle states that we must understand the frame of mind with what persons, and on what grounds people grow angry, or grow into any emotions.

Arrangement: In what order should you put your different ideas? A general rule would go in the following order: 1 st ethos (establishing credibility) 2 nd logos (give reasons that appeal to them and that use the most appropriate criteria), 3 rd pathos (make them feel the rightness of your argument),

Style: What is the appropriate manner in presenting your information? Now that you have established credibility you must maintain credibility (ethos). Make sure that you are clear and well understood. Be sure to demonstrate your intelligence and good taste.

Objective – What will persuasion through rhetoric teach?

Everyday students unknowingly make persuasive arguments in an attempt to meet their needs, whether in the classroom or outside of the classroom. Advertisements presented on televisions can be used as a learning tool in the classroom. In this day and age students are being exposed to a level of technological innovations that those before them have never been exposed to. Even as the world changes, so does the things that companies and corporation instill in us as being necessary tools of our day. With the study of persuasion the students will be able to make sound decisions by attempting to conceptualize marketing ploys through rhetoric.

"The place of media in the lives of children is worth special attention—not simply because children are uniquely impressionable but because their experience shapes everyone's future;" (Gitlin (2002), p.17) By keying in on some features of advertisement that is common in our community I will be making my students aware of the importance of being aware of the propaganda that has molded our world and our minds, and also to prioritize their wants and needs to be responsible citizens. In 1997, the nation's estimated 34 million children age12 and under will have spent or influenced spending of a record $500 billion" (Horoviz 1997). Advertisement geared towards kids has doubled from $100 billion in 1980 to over $200 billion in the year 2000. According to the article "Kids Upfront Outlook is Grim" by Wayne Friedman and David Goetzl. Children's outlook on the things that they purchase will determine the future of our economy.

Tune into the Tone will address the attributes that makes speaking have such an impact on the listener. They will be able connect their learning into the materials that they read and understand that authors have a set purpose and intended audience for their writing. In state testing, students are required to understand the purpose for writing and by taking such a deep look into this concept through speech, it will solidify what their ultimate goal is in reading which is to understand and verbalize information.

Aligned with Illinois State Standards, the students will be able to use information to form questions and verify predictions; identify important themes and topics; make comparisons across reading selections; summarize content of material by listening and applying rhetoric skills that are addressed; identify how the speaker express their ideas; Ask questions and respond to questions from the teacher and from group members to improve comprehension; Listen attentively by facing the speaker; make eye contact and paraphrasing what is said.

The overall unit, Tune into the Tone will encourage students to address the issues of credibility in a speaker (is this someone you feel you can trust?), how the speaker or speech made them feel (did t make you feel eagerness, happiness etc. towards something). And the author's or speakers' purpose of the speech (is the speaker trying to make you do something or feel a certain way?). Students will understand that universally, speaking is recognized as a portrayal of a person's knowledge, skill and credibility. They will understand that in order to understand the message a speaker is sending they must listen carefully, using techniques to clarify and understand what is heard.

Strategies: The Approach to Teaching

With the incorporation of KWL charts (Charts label: What I KNOW, What I WANT to know, What I LEARNED) to engage students in what they already know about a particular topic or view point and what they would like to know, gives them control over what they will seek to learn. They will be able to search for things in a speech or advertisements that agree with their viewpoint and those points that conflict with their viewpoints. As the unit unfolds we will discuss the pathos, ethos, and logos of speech rhetoric. The students will work in groups and as a class to write speeches and advertisements which will be evidence of meeting or exceeding the learning target.

This unit will broaden the students' level of thinking by allowing the student to reach higher levels of thinking and questioning. I look forward to expanding their ability to use and formulate who, what, when, and where questions. At the completion of the unit the students will be able to use the following evaluating techniques and lines of questioning; how to make valuable decisions about issues; resolve controversies or differences of opinions; develop opinions, judgments and decisions; determine whether they agree or disagree; understand what is important to them; determine priorities; determine how they will decide; use a criteria to assess needs and wants. These questions are at the highest level of learning.

Nurturing the Mind—Blooms Taxonomy

Why use Blooms Taxonomy? In this unit we must be prepared to ask questions that involve logical thinking and reasoning. Critical thinking is essential to the success of encouraging students to be thinkers.

During the lessons it is important that the students demonstrate understanding of the: who, what, why, when, and where, when determining the authors or speakers purpose which is Level 1 of Bloom's Taxonomy. This level demonstrates the students' knowledge of what has been read or heard. By asking questions at this level the students are required to think beyond the 'yes' or 'no' answers that they are so eager to give. When students are challenged in their learning they are more likely to challenge themselves in the kinds and levels of reading material that they expose themselves to in their independent learning.

At level 2 of Bloom's Taxonomy questions are posed to determine the' students' comprehension of what has been heard or read. The questions posed will allow the students to demonstrate understanding of facts and ideas by organizing, comparing, translating, interpreting and giving descriptions. The following words are posed in this level of questioning: compare, contrast, describe, interpret, explain, illustrate, infer, relate, rephrase, translate, summarize, and show. A question at this level encourages students to analyze what they know. Second graders are able to do this at varying leveled skills. Some students will struggle to find attributes to compare and contrast but continued practice will pay off and prove successful.

Level 3 of Blooms Taxonomy allows students to use what they know and have learned about with the use of ethos, pathos, logos. It is important that during this unit the students are allowed to apply what they know. The students will be able to create marketing projects and other persuasive measures in their writing and speaking. The students will be given a task to pursue their peers as well as others who are not considered their peers and will apply acquired knowledge, facts, techniques and rules in a different way to solve problems.

Within the unit are opportunities for students to analyze the information the things they Know, Want to know, and have learned using KWL charts. The students will examine information by breaking information that is given into parts by identifying motives or causes of the speech or advertisement. How does this change my mind? How may it change the minds of others? What needs are being addressed?

The students will be able to present and defend their opinions by making judgments about the information and the validity of ideas or quality of work based on their own presumed criteria. They will be able to defend their stance, determine what is important to the listeners or consumer, rate, recommend, and select when appropriate.

This unit will be a very visual and hands on experience for the students. The students will have an opportunity to engage in viewing persuasion as an art with the chance to view and discuss several types of persuasion that we encounter daily, whether directly or indirectly. Commercials, pictures on products, billboards, radio advertisements, and others will be viewed to incorporate key components of persuasion. We will determine whether persuasion is limited to only speaking or can it be demonstrated in different fashions. I will show students different clothing, cars and accessories and allow them to determine what age group or type of person would each product marketing professionals gear the item to. The question, which would you rather have and why, will be posed. What is it about what was said persuaded us and how can we use this information to pursue others?

Activities

We will take opportunities to view the neighborhood with a critical eye. We will discuss some of the things we see such as the cars and clothing and determine who the product was intended to entice. We will determine whether cars are fashioned with families in mind, or single individuals. We will determine words that could be used to entice the intended consumer. We will understand that not only are we persuaded by what we hear but by what we see.

Lesson 1

We will discuss the timing of advertisements and persuasion. Is the effect of the persuasion limited if timing of its presentation is not considered? We will discuss how timing is important in persuasion. Teachable moments will be used as we discuss needs and wants. The students will discuss the differences in the kinds of materials that markets present to consumers based upon varying seasons, holidays, and events. We will discuss extensively the words that are used and how things are described to relate to each given situation. Take a look at magazines that are geared towards seasonal styles ie clothing stores and toy stores. Have students identify types of clothing such as heavier coats, lighter jackets, longer sleeves and shorter skirts and shorts. Identify changes in icons, colors, and characters used to decorate items during particular seasons. Students will be able to identify how advertisement changes as the seasons and holidays change. Through this activity students will understand that advertisements are persuasive by creating an image in the viewer's mind that this is something that they need because it is in style or the season requires it thus appealing to their senses.

Additional sources to use is the story The All I'll Ever Want Christmas Doll The story is about a girl who sees an advertisement about a doll and wrote a letter to Santy Clause about all she wants for Christmas. Discuss how the advertisement was geared towards the interest of the child. How did the ad expect the child to respond?

To present the various topics noted in this unit it is important that I use the students' discussion as a valuable approach to learning. These discussions amongst themselves are a way for the students to develop their own responses to the reading or other forms of media. To get more information, the student must gather different perspectives to express their own feelings. Talking expands their understanding and helps them express how they are affected by tactics in persuasion.

Lesson 2

During the discussion of persuasion, it is important that my students understand that in order to pursue someone to take action you must be someone worthy of trust. This will lead into a discussion of Ethos, is the speaker trustworthy? What determines whether a person is trustworthy? The students will investigate and discuss the things that they feel makes someone trustworthy. In second grade the students are able to, with guiding questions, discuss within small groups this idea. At this age their discussion will be facilitated within their own discussion.

The students will use the art of persuasion in their readings as well! By reading and discussing stories that students are familiar with, they will be able to view things from the stance of each character and create an argument based upon a certain characters viewpoint. For instance if we allow a student to take a the Big Bad Wolf's standpoint in a story and try to create a convincing argument and to pursue the reader that he really meant no ill will to the Three Little Pigs this would be an excellent chance to introduce the story The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. In this version of the story is written from the Wolf's point of view. He has been falsely imprisoned for terrorizing the Three Little Pigs. His take on the event is spelled out by first appealing to the reader's ability to empathize with the Wolf and using ethos to show he is able to be trusted.

Allowing students the opportunity to analyze their reading and listening material, will be essential to their future growth. When teaching students the art and use of persuasive speaking we must equip our students to be able to ask themselves the important questions when speaking. They must be able to determine what questions they should ask themselves when they think about how to ask for things. They must be able to determine the priority of their need and want and determine the listener's stance.

Lesson 3

The students will pose an argument on what makes a person seem trustworthy and what may not. Allowing the student to use props or drawings will aid in the discussion. Would you trust this character to show Little Red Riding Hood the right way to Grandmother's House? Why or why not? Through this activity the students will understand that an image can be just as important as the words spoken. Who will listen to someone that they do not trust, will be the questioned posed to lead into subsequent discussions. We will read and discuss the story Little Red Riding Hood without disclosing the end of the story.

The questions to be posed are as follows: Do you agree with the actions of the wolf? What is your opinion of the wolf? Would it be better if the wolf character was a different kind of character? Why did the author choose to use a wolf instead of a more pleasant animal? What would you recommend? What things do we know about wolves to make the conclusion…? What would you cite to defend the actions of the speaker or the listener? Based on what you know, how would you explain the author's purpose? What can you use to support your opinion?

The students will create a speech to introduce themselves to their classmates as a worthy candidate for a class job position demonstrating understanding of pathos. They will have the task of describing themselves to the class, with the intention of influencing the students to vote for them to be a class leader for a particular position. In the second grade classroom it is important for the students to understand that with a position of power comes responsibility to lead others.

While discussing rhetoric and the power of words and images we will discuss the morals involved in pursuing others to act based upon what is said. At the conclusion of creating speeches to show themselves trustworthy, the students will be allowed to designate each student to perform a job based upon his/her credibility and qualities that they included in their description.

I will take the opportunity to present a speech that is very obviously padded with false and misleading information and things that I intend to do if given a classroom job. We will discuss what things the listener must consider when making a decision based upon what the speakers says. We will discuss feelings towards someone who lies or is misleading. We will discuss whether a speaker is being misleading if he speaks the truth, but balloons or exaggerates the benefits of his abilities.

Lesson 4

As the unit continues I will introduce the element of how commercials persuade us to act or not to act. Student at this age are most familiar with commercials that are about fun and games. I will take this as a teachable moment to discuss how happy the children are when they are seen playing with the latest gadget. I will ask them why an advertiser would want people to look so excited about their product. We will discuss the Six Flags commercial where they first scene shows people not having a lot of fun and proceed to switch to a scene at Six Flags with everyone id shown having fun and full of excitement. We will determine what each scene makes us think about or make us feel, thus demonstrating understanding of logos.

We will then move on to the 1980's commercial of Joe the Camel displayed on the overhead with the use of youtube.com, looking so cool with his cigarette. We will discuss the words that come to mind when we see this commercial. At this age the students will be able to identify that Joe looks cool in his car, and he looks relaxed and happy. We will then look at anti smoking commercials. We will discuss whether the advertisers of the smoking commercials would use the same words as the anti smoking commercials why or why not? What was the writer's intent in each commercial? Which is more truthful? Is there a more truthful commercial? Is it honest to eliminate information in order to persuade people to do things that you want them to do?

Giving the students opportunities to demonstrate understanding by drawing will give others and you, as a teacher, incite on what the student understand about the lesson. My second graders learn best when they are allowed to inquire and investigate their questions using their current knowledge. By understanding what the student already knows about their wants and needs, they will be able to then adapt the lesson to their own experiences and depict them in various ways.

Commercials use feelings and desires to encourage the consumer to purchase their product. Brawny paper towels viewed on youtube.com, appeals to the needs of wanting something reliable and dependable. The discussion will lead the students into a thoughtful process of evaluating the words used, the tone of voice, the appeal to a certain audience, and the trust factor that everyone wants. The students' goal will be to highlight use of colorful wording and what words they could choose to create a similar commercial. As the teacher I must be able to provide countering ideas and determine if the students is able to identify what approach to selling the product would be most successful and least successful.

It is important to incorporate graphic organizers (see appendix TV Diary) so that the students will be able to compile their ideas into understandable and reasonable categories to determine the factors that underline the purpose of the persuasion. The Evidence Analysis graphic organizer will be used when discussing each aspect of the highlighted material. For instance when the students view the Snuggles fabric softener commercial they will label the center square, "Snuggles". From the center square there are subtopic lines that extend from its center and will be used to write the features that are most persuasive about the advertisement. Graphic organizers can also be used to allow the students to compare the elements that they find most effective in varying advertisements.

I will encourage my student to make connections to themselves and journal these feelings towards the taught materials. I will guide them in analyzing and encourage them to take the stance of an examiner. They will not simply experience the media but stand back and look carefully at the intended purpose, the intended audience, and the intended results of the advertisement. Through analyzing each method the reader will gain a deeper understanding of the elements of persuasion and how it all fits together. They will understand how writings, graphic features, illustrations, and formatting work together.

Lesson 5

This lesson will develop an awareness of the students' own media habits and make connections between ads and their own consuming behavior. The students will be given a copy of TV Diary, and parent letter. Ask students to track their current TV and/or Internet viewing habits and video game time by keeping a TV Diary for one week using the blank diary sheets provided. They should track program name, time spent watching, and then tally the number of commercials during each program. In a letter, let parents know that children will be participating in the media journal homework activity and ask them to assist their children in keeping the journal.

- How many hours is the TV on in a given day?
- What do you like most about TV?
- What do you dislike about TV?
- When did you watch TV the most?
- How did you feel about the commercials?
Ask students to pick one of the commercials they watched during the week and consider the following as media consumers:
- Who is creating this message?
- What is their purpose in creating this message?
- What is the message?
- What other messages might different people take away from this?
- Who is the target audience?
- What techniques are used to gain or retain my attention?
After completing the media journal, have students compare and contrast media habits in the classroom and discuss the questions above. (/pbskids.org/dontbuyit)

Discussion Points: Does the students have any common factors in the amount of time they watch TV and the number of commercials that comes on during the program? What are commercials used for? What are some things you see and like on commercials? What are some things you've seen and don't like in commercials? What are some things you've seen in commercials that your parents like? Have you ever seen a commercial and asked someone to buy that something for you? What motivated you to purchase the product? Who do you think the writer of the commercial wanted to like the product?

The unit will be separated into teaching phases. We will have weekly workshops to allow students to achieve mastery in each component of persuasion. We will weave it naturally throughout the curriculum throughout the school year. Persuasion will become part of the physical and social environment, and create a culture of thoughtfulness and expressive language that will build a healthy student. The student's work will be displayed to show that they understand the importance and the value of persuasion while being conscious decision makers in society.

Students will work in groups to create, discuss, and promote a mutually respectful learning environment where the discussion is led by the clues discussed as a class. They will exhibit understanding by participating and contributing in small and large group discussion and creating advertisements that are appropriate for the purpose and audience. They will make simple oral presentations to the class about a topic, event or experiences such as telling or retelling stories, describing a personal experience, delivering a short informational report, present information in logical sequence, use appropriate vocabulary and give descriptive details. They will also learn to use active listening skills to listen for different purposes, recognize friendly communication through tone of voice, gestures, and content, and respond to comments by adding a connecting idea.

As a culminating activity the students will create a campaign to make the most appealing argument to convince the listener/consumer (the student) why their chosen product is the best and most needed.

The classroom activities will line up directly with what I have set to achieve through this unit. It is to the discretion of the teacher and the needs of the students the duration of each lesson. Some things to look for during these lessons are how self directed are the students? Do they self-monitor, self-direct, and self evaluate? It is important that the student is able to do this to some degree. This unit will require the student to engage in a topic and focus on the topic to make the discussion most effective. Do the students know and understand the expectations for the task? Do they understand and value the purpose of what they are engaged in? I need to know this because students need some level of appreciation of how persuasion affects their lives at home and in school.

image 10.02.02.01

Total: How many commercials did you see this week?

Dear Parents,

Today in your child's class we began studying media and its impact our desire for the things we want and need. We're also talking about media and persuasion and how frequently we are persuaded by advertisements. I'm asking students to keep a television diary. I'm writing to ask for your help in this homework activity.

The purpose of this exercise is to explore how much TV we watch as individuals and as a class, and the frequency of commercial advertisements. My intent is not to judge anyone's viewing habits, but to have students explore them and think more consciously about the use of persuasion through media.

Please see the "TV Diary" attached. Each night, please have your child fill out the diary before going to bed. Your child should keep track of what shows he/she watches, and for how long (half-hour, one hour, etc.). Videos should be included in TV viewing time.

Additionally, he/she should tally the amount of commercials during each program.

We will examine our results next week, so please ask your child to bring the completed diary to class.

Should the activity spark your interest in getting more information on this topic, please see the family guide at http://pbskids.org/dontbuyit/parentsguide.html#usingmedia

Thank you for your assistance with this activity!

Sincerely,


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