Sunday, April 6, 2014

DigiLit Sunday


      I love that Margaret Simon has started a Sunday Link Up for posts about digital literacy at her blog.   A couple weeks ago, I wrote a blog post on DigiLit Sunday telling about my plans for a propaganda/persuasion lesson using word clouds.  We ended up using Tagxedo because we could access it on our Chromebooks and school computers.  Here is an example of a word cloud a student created and a reflection she wrote about Apple products after watching commercials:

Student Reflection

The advertisers for Apple products are marketing to people who want to feel artistic and different. The Apple commercials used words like “poetry, colorful, music, dancing, and beauty” to show that people who use Apple products are very artistic. Advertisers believe that people who use Apple Products are more unique than other people. The commercials use words like “misfits, troublemakers, rebels, crazy, and innovative”. Advertisers believe that people who own Apple Products are passionate. For example, they use words like “romance, love, and friendship.” Advertisers believe that Apple users are smart. They use words like “genius and learn”. Also, the tone of the commercials is happy. The advertisers use words like “joy and delight”. The advertisers are saying, if you buy Apple products,you will be an artistic, passionate, smart and happy person who is very unique.

The advertisers who sell Nintendo games are marketing to kids and/or families that enjoy  spending time together and exploring their imagination. The words “Dream,” and “Comfort,” are repeated a lot during the commercials suggesting that playing the game/console will be a very relaxing and imaginative experience. The Nintendo commercials state that each one of their games or consoles are “new,” and “different,” so even if you buy them all, you will have a different gaming experience with each one. The advertisers also include the words “Create,” “Characters,” and “Customize,” which say that the player can create their own gaming experience in some situations. Most commercials express the idea that if you get one of these games and/or consoles you will have a better relationship with your friends and family. The people who create these advertisements always say that kids who buy this game have a lot of friends and a seemingly carefree life without homework, chores, or anything kids don’t enjoy to do. The tone for these commercials are fun and creative. The group of  marketers are telling the audience that their products can create an extremely close relationships with your loved ones and that they will inspire you and open your imagination.

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Advertisers of hair product commercials are persuading customers who want their hair to feel healthy with rich words. The word “irresistible” is used in very many hair product commercials. Irresistible makes you feel like you have to get the product because you will look irresistible if you use it. Words like “moisturizing, restore, healthy and body” are used. Don’t those words just make you feel like you’re young again?! They use those words to try and prove that their product is great! More words are “beautiful, shiny, rich, free, perfect and style .” Words like that make you feel like a gorgeous princess. They do that because that’s the persuasion they sell to you. The commercials show models flipping their shiny, beautiful hair. They want you to think that you will look like that if you use the product. The tone of the commercial also helps the persuasion. The tone is usually rich and enthusiastic.  The marketers are saying, that if you buy their product you will be just like a model: beautiful, perfect, healthy, and free.

     Advertisers of running shoes are marketing to people who want to be faster, fitter, and more active. Throughout the commercials many repeat the word “Faster”. This is showing that the shoe will make them go faster, rather than a different running shoe. “Fit” and “healthy” are also used throughout commercials. This is to show that this running shoe is going to help them become fit and be more healthy.  Another word used is “active”. The advertisers are showing that with this shoe they will be more active and run more than before. “Environment” is also used a lot throughout the commercials. This is to show that no matter what the environment , you can run. Advertisers are saying if you buy their running shoe you will be more active, healthy, fit, and run more.

    A large majority of laundry detergent companies advertise towards parents who are tough, but at the same time, enjoy taking care of their loved ones. Throughout most commercials, words that relate to what society finds good parents were mentioned, like “creative, gentle, trusted, share, and family”. The advertisers also believe parents are generally strong people. Words like “tough, bold, strong, and powerful” are constantly stated in the commercials. These commercials contain words that describe beauty, which according to our society, is a word that is related to families, and the parents that hold them together, and that by using a certain brand, they will be more beautiful and happy people on the inside. Some words and phrases that were mentioned that are related to beauty were “lovely, pretty, bright, color, and stand out”. However, not only are the companies advertising the idea of its consumers being beautiful, but the detergent itself is supposed to make your clothing look nice, and since we tend to judge based on looks, the detergent is advertised to help be more likeable look-wise. I remember during all of the commercials, actors had fashionable clothing that looked new and fresh  to prove to the watchers that if you use the brand their helping to advertise, your clothes look like theirs. The marketers are trying to prove the point that if you use their brand, you will be a better, more parent-like person, as well as look and feel good.
Note: Students write their pieces on Google Drive, and I have them color-code the parts I want them to include.  For example, in the top reflection, the bright blue at the top is the claim.  The light orange includes the evidence, the dark purple includes the explanations/further claims, and the bright purple is the conclusion. 
After this project, we talked about how important it is to be aware of persuasion when reading or watching advertisements.  We don't want to be hoodwinked into believing everything the advertisers want us to believe!  The various word clouds and reflections showed me that students understood word choice and how marketers use words to sell products.  They also had a lot of fun!
When we read a Scope Magazine article about the Holocaust, I asked students to take a look at a poster (p. 8) the Nazis produced as an example of propaganda.  We had a brief discussion of what the poster was saying.  The kids gave excellent answers.  They've got it!
Another exciting resource my friend, Megan Ginther, gave me, that I'm excited to use as we research this month is  Take a look!



  1. I love this! I really need to use more technology in my classroom so I am loving digilit Sunday. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

  2. Thanks for the follow-up on the word clouds and propaganda. I was really curious about how that would enhance their learning. It looks like it was a successful lesson. They got it. I love how digital tools can make the learning more present to our students. And they love playing with apps like tagxedo. Thanks for linking up and promoting the meme.

  3. Totally awesome! I love the color coding and the word cloud.