Author:
Patricia Denton
Subject:
Information Science, Visual Arts, World Cultures, Marketing, Electronic Technology, Film and Music Production, English Language Arts, Cultural Geography
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Level:
Middle School
Grade:
6, 7, 8
Tags:
Advertisements, Advertising, Commercials, Cultural Bias, Culturally Responsive Education, Media, Media Literacy, Media and Information Literacy, Multicultural, Representation, Underrepresentation
License:
Creative Commons Attribution
Language:
English

Education Standards

Cultural Representation in the Media

Overview

 

Advertisements can present a biased cultural representation that can affect our perceptions of others.  For example, a television show may show commercials with some groups of people more than others. A magazine may have advertisements and articles representing a certain type of people in a way that reinforces stereotypes.  Students need to be taught to recognize the culture that is being represented in the media they consume as well as the cultures that are absent from the same media.

This is Part 5 of a 5 Part Unit: Media Manipulation: What Are They Really Saying?

Day 1

  • Give each student  a paper plate. On the plate they are going to explain their culture by describing elements of their identity and belief system.

    • Gender

    • Geographical location

    • Race/ Ethnic Background 

    • Life experiences

    • Socio-Economics

    • Family dynamics

    • Political Affiliation

    • Profession

    • Religion

    • Values

    • Likes/Dislikes

  • The paper plates (without names) will be added to a bulletin board in the back of the room.  Students can look and realize that there are a variety of cultures represented in their school.

  • Students will be asked if the plates would look different if we lived somewhere else.  How could the plates look different if we lived in Florida, Chicago, Minnesota, Puerto Rico.  What about in different parts of the world?

  • Introduce to the class the word “representation.”  Ask the students what they think it means.

  • Explain that in media, it means the way that people are shown.  If a television network has a lot of women in positions of power or a network does not have any people of color (POC) in a position of power or as main characters, we would say that they are poorly represented or underrepresented.

  • Students will choose a network and go on their devices.  They will look through the shows and the casts and discuss in small groups what groups do they see are well represented and which groups are poorly represented.  NOTE: A group that is a side character does not equal well representation. You may want to discuss what the word “token” means.

  • On a blank paper plate describing elements of your identity and belief system.

    • Gender

    • Geographical location

    • Race/ Ethnic Background 

    • Life experiences

    • Socio-Economics

    • Family dynamics

    • Political Affiliation

    • Profession

    • Religion

    • Values

    • Likes/Dislikes

    • Other?

  • The paper plates (without names) will be added to a bulletin board in the back of the room.  You can look and realize that there are a variety of cultures represented in your school.

  • Think of this: would the plates would look different if we lived somewhere else.  How could the plates look different if we lived in Florida, Chicago, Minnesota, Puerto Rico.  What about in different parts of the world?

  • What do you think the word "representation" means?

  • In media, representation means the way that people are shown.  If a television network has a lot of women in positions of power or a network does not have any people of color (POC) in a position of power or as main characters, we would say that they are poorly represented or underrepresented.

  • Choose a television network and go on your devices.  Look through the shows and the casts and discuss in small groups what groups do you see are well represented and which groups are poorly represented.  NOTE: A group that is a side character does not equal well representation. A "token" character, is a character that is multicultural but does not have a significant role in the narrative of a story.  

Day 2

  • Divide the class into groups.  Each group will be given a magazine.  Students will tally what they see in the magazine (in both advertisements and in images that go along with articles)  Representation Survey

  • Who was well represented in the magazine? Who is less well represented?

  • Why would one group be more represented than others? (Hint: What is the purpose of advertisements?)

  • How might representation or under representation in ads affect people?

  • When they are done, have students share out their results to the class

  • Extension activity: Have students make graphs of their findings (either hand drawn or in a program such as Google Sheets) and have their results posted.

  • Alone or in a small group, pick a popular magazine.  You will tally what you see in the magazine (in both advertisements and in images that go along with articles)  using the Representation Survey.

  • Who was well represented in the magazine? Who is less well represented?

  • Why would one group be more represented than others? (Hint: What is the purpose of advertisements?)

  • How might representation or under representation in ads affect people?

  • When you are done, share out their results to the class

  • Extension activity: Make a graph of your findings (either hand drawn or in a program such as Google Sheets) and post your results.

Day 3

Assessment:

  • As a class, students will watch SuperBowl commercials.  

  • Each group will pick a commercial to analyze.  This analysis will be the culminating activity of this unit.  

  • Using the Commercial Analysis Form they will look at the commercial using the skills they learned in this unit.

Assessment:

  • As a class, watch SuperBowl commercials (compilations are easily found on YouTube).

  • Individually or in a small group, you will pick a commercial to analyze.  This analysis will be the culminating activity of this unit.  

  • Using the Commercial Analysis Form they will look at the commercial using the skills they learned in this unit.