Classroom Visual Communication Activities

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Postville Teaching Tips

Questions on Filming Techniques and Representation

1. Before you show the entire film, show a scene without sound. Then have students discuss what meaning they think they see in the scene. Next show the same scene with sound. Ask the class to discuss how the director used a narrator's script to shape the meaning of the scene.

2. Why does the discussion of "assimilation" occur with scenes of Jewish children attending school?

3. The film portrays three public events—a parade put on the natives/locals, a parade put on by the Jews, and the Postville Festival attended by natives/locals, Jews, and Hispanics. Why did the director put them in that order?

4. Why does the director end the scene of the Jewish parade with a Jewish boy holding the American flag? How would the parade be represented differently if that scene had been omitted or placed in the middle of the parade sequence?

5. Near the end of the film, the narrator describes the "windy and dusty path" of multiculturalism while the audience watches a car drive down a dusty road. What are other examples of the narrator using a metaphor or imagery at or near the same time that the metaphor or image is visualized?

6. As the credit rolls, there are six brief clips: a Jewish woman, a Hispanic woman, a native/local woman, a native/local man, a native/local woman, and a Jewish woman. Why do you think the director picked these people making these statements?

7. Throughout the film, there are many quotes from Jews and locals/natives. However, only one Hispanic is quoted. What is the significance of that? How does that affect what the director is representing?

Analyzing Visual Rhetoric

Tools for analyzing Visual Rhetoric
for your Romancing the Consumer Project

The following tips provide a rhetorical supplement to the Five Concepts for Visual Messages discussed on pages 33-36 of the Student Guide:150-250:
Pattern, Figure-Ground, Direction, Chunking, Color

• What does the ad encourage you to do? How, most prominently, does the use of romance conventions add to persuasive effect?

• What elements of romance convention does the visual communication draw on?

• How is each romance element employed to reinforce the persuasive strategy of the ad?

• Does the visual appeal mostly to the emotions or to logic or to credibility [the other two means of persuasion may serve to reinforce a focus]?

• What do you see first and why?
What is in the foreground? In the background? What is in or out of focus? What is, or seems to be moving? What is placed high? low? to the left, center, or right?

How does placement of elements serve the persuasive strategy of the ad?

• How is any written material placed and treated? How does the text and its placement serve persuasive strategy?

• How are light and color used? What effect(s) are they intended to have on you? What about video? Sound?

• What is surprising about the design of this visual communication? Compare its use of romance conventions and visual elements to others in the set your team has chosen.

• What did I forget to ask you to consider?

adapted by Jim Noland from "Visual Argument Tips" by Allison Greenwald

Ideas for Teaching Visual Analysis

Ten Visual Analysis Activities

Instructors: Listed below are possible activities to precede the visual analysis of an ad. Choose which activities you prefer and/or create your own!

Whole Class Analysis of Ads in Text

Use the examples of ads in Everything's an Argument for the whole class to analyze. You might use the questions on the handout called Visual Analysis of an Ad: Prewriting Notes.

Whole Class Analysis of Magazine Ad

Make an overhead transparency of a magazine ad and have students analyze it. If you wish, you could have the whole class analyze the ad together by using the questions on the handout called Visual Analysis of an Ad: Prewriting Notes.

Small Group Analysis of Ads within a Magazine

Obtain six different magazines (old magazines are available at the Ames Public Library) or ask students to bring in magazines. In groups of four, students can (a) count the different types of products displayed on full-page ads and then analyze the categories of those products, (b) analyze the people shown in the ads (e.g., age, race, gender, physique, activity, etc.), (c) determine an effective ad in the magazine and analyze why it is effective, (d) determine a non-effective ad in the magazine and analyze its detriments, (e) determine what values the typical ads tend to be selling, (f) determine the overall audience of the magazine and why these products have been selected for this particular magazine. Then the groups can report to the entire class. See handout Analysis of a Magazine and its Advertisements.

TV Advertisements

Record several TV advertisements and ask students to analyze these ads (the handout questions could again be used). Show the ad first so students are familiar with its content. Then ask different groups to look for different types of analysis as you show the ad again: use of color, action, sound (music, narration, etc.), display of brand name, length of time product is shown (often there is fast action and then at the end of the ad, the camera zooms in on the product and holds that shot for a longer time). After each group reports, have the whole class analyze the emotional appeal, type of sales approach, and type of propaganda.

Web Ads

If you are in a computer lab, find ads on the web and ask groups to analyze one particular web site ad. Then groups could show the ad on the screen and analyze it for the entire class. If you're not in a computer classroom, you can bring in a laptop with an Internet connection and display web ads on the screen for a whole-class analysis.

Films

The Parks Library has a variety of films that you can show in class which describe advertising and its effects. Some of these films depict how products subconsciously produce sexual images. The library might have some of the Cleo Award-winning ads that you could use, too.

Ad Comparison over Decades

Go to adflip.com and select an ad from the 1950s and an ad from the 2000s of the same product. Show the two ads side by side on the screen and ask students to analyze the ads to see the difference in ads over the last 50 years (for instance, the older ads include much more text). Then ask the students to work in groups of three to find two other ads from different decades, to move the ads side by side onto a PowerPoint slide, to add a slide with bullets showing the similarities, and another slide with bullets analyzing the differences. Then students can drag their work to the dropbox (in a computer lab), and you can display their mini-slide presentations and ask them to give brief oral presentations. Note: If you’re not in a computer lab, you can print the ads from various decades before class and have the students select from these decade-partnered print ads to analyze and present orally during class.)

Concept borrowed from Lisa Heitzman

Class Discussion Topics or Journaling Topics

  • How pervasive is advertising in the United States? How would our personal lives be different if all advertising were banned?
  • Could McDonald's have become a multi-billion dollar industry without advertising? (You might discuss the book and/or movie of SuperSize Me.)
  • How much is advertising causing other countries (such as third world countries) to change to be like the United States? Is that change positive or negative?
  • Does advertising cause people to become more materialistic to desire products not really needed?

Create an Advertisement

Students can individually or with partners or groups create their own ads and then rhetorically analyze the choices they made in creating them.

Create Your Own Activity

Be creative and devise your own activities and then share those activities with others!

Teaching Electronic Slide Presentations

11/14/2008 - 10:00am
11/14/2008 - 4:30pm

This ISUComm workshop will explore the role of electronic slide presentations in both foundational and advanced communication courses. We'll start by focusing on the PowerPoint debate engaged by Edward Tufte and others. Then we'll take a broad curricular view, sorting out the competencies and learning objectives that best serve students in lower- and upper-level communication classes. We'll continue discussions over lunch (provided by ISUComm) and then in the afternoon share principles and practices—first with a presentation by Debra Satterfield, Associate Professor in Art and Design, on beginning principles of electronic slide design, and then by four doctoral students, Karen Gulbrandsen, Matt Search, Quinn Warnick, and Abhi Rao, who will share pedagogical strategies for teaching oral, written, and visual presentation skills in advanced communication courses. Those just starting out in PowerPoint or those with a specific PowerPoint project are encouraged to sign up for a hands-on practice session beginning at 2:45 in 420 Ross Hall, where tutors can work with you and answer your PowerPoint questions.

Please register for the conference by contacting Deanna Stumbo, ISUComm Foundation Courses Secretary (515-294-3516, isucommregistration@iastate.edu). Indicate if you plan to attend the luncheon and if you want to participate in the hands-on PowerPoint practice session (you may bring a specific PowerPoint project to work on if you wish). There is no charge for the workshop, lunch, or the practice sessions.

Workshop Schedule

Language Teaching Workshop

04/05/2009 - 3:10pm
04/05/2009 - 5:00pm

Richard Kern's Workshop on Language Teaching

 

On Monday, April 5, Dr. Richard Kern—Associate Professor of French, Director of the Berkeley Language Center—will give a mini-workshop on literacy, technology, and language teaching, funded by a CELT TEACH grant.

Prof. Kern teaches courses in French linguistics, applied linguistics, and foreign language pedagogy. His research interests include second language acquisition, psycholinguistics, reading, writing, and technology. He has served as Associate Editor of the journal Language Learning & Technology since 2001. He is currently writing a book on relationships among language, technology, and literacy.

Workshop Title: Towards a literacy-based approach to language teaching: A pedagogical workshop

Location: Pearson Hall, Room TBA

Abstract: Writing and the visual media are our main resources for learning about and relating to all the past and present worlds outside our own community. When we examine the particular ways that other people use language to express ideas and experiences, we not only learn a lot about the conventions of the language--we also have a chance to begin to understand the beliefs and values that underlie other people's uses of language. This workshop will focus on practical ways of integrating reading and writing in motivating classroom activities, with the aim of improving not only students' literacy skills but also their overall ability to communicate. We will examine ways of linking reading, writing, and thinking activities to encourage students to deepen their reflections on the texts they read and to make them more aware of their own role as integral participants in the meaning-making process.

Professor Richard Kern Speaks on Videoconferencing

04/05/2009 - 12:00pm
04/05/2009 - 1:00pm

Hello Lyon? This is Berkeley… Can you see us?

 

On Monday, April 5, Dr. Richard Kern—Associate Professor of French, Director of the Berkeley Language Center—will give a research presentation on literacy, technology, and language teaching, funded by a CELT TEACH grant.

Prof. Kern teaches courses in French linguistics, applied linguistics, and foreign language pedagogy. His research interests include second language acquisition, psycholinguistics, reading, writing, and technology. He has served as Associate Editor of the journal Language Learning & Technology since 2001. He is currently writing a book on relationships among language, technology, and literacy.

Presentation Title: "Hello Lyon? This is Berkeley… Can you see us?": The promise and perils of desktop videoconferencing in the French classroom

Location: 212 Ross Hall

Abstract: This presentation describes ongoing research related to a computer-mediated collaboration between Masters degree students in teaching French as a foreign language at the University of Lyon II and intermediate-level French students at the University of California, Berkeley over a three year period. Based on direct observation of interactions, analysis of screen and room video recordings, interviews, questionnaires, text and artifact analysis, the presentation will explore students’ and apprentice teachers’ uses of spoken, written, and visual communication, their socio-affective responses to the exchanges, and their various adaptations to the affordances and constraints of the medium.