Made You Look

By Aruna Arjunan, February 4, 2007

Grade Level

  • High School


  • Graphic Design

Subject Area

  • Arts
  • Language Arts
  • Social Studies
  • Technology

Lesson Time

Six fifty-minute class periods


In the world of marketing and advertising, one of the major target audiences is adolescents. Many ad slogans and campaigns are created with them in mind. In this lesson, students will understand what it takes to create an effective advertisement that people study, look at, and remember. The students will become more “media literate” and aware of the different principles advertisers and marketers use to attract attention, making them more cognizant when digesting media they encounter. This topic is relevant to many different content areas including social sciences, economics, psychology, sociology, English, mathematics, and science. In this lesson, students will work on the creation side of media, rather than the consumer side, giving them a better understanding of how media, marketing, and advertising design influences them. By the end of the lesson, students will better understand how design is linked to media. They will also better understand how to cooperatively and creatively work together, and improve upon their collaboration skills. Students will become more comfortable with certain technologies and will understand another way in which design affects their everyday lives.

National Standards

English and Language Arts –
1. Students read a wide range of print and non-print texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
2. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, and graphics).
3. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, and vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
4. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
5. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and non-print texts.
6. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).
Information Literacy
Standard 1: The student who is information literate accesses information efficiently and effectively.
Standard 2: The student who is information literate evaluates information critically and competently.
Science / Technology (grades 9-12) -
E1. Abilities of technological design:
• Identify a problem or design an opportunity.
• Propose designs and choose between alternative solutions. 
• Implement a proposed design.
• Evaluate the solution and its consequences.
• Communicate the problem, process, and solution.
Social Studies –
a. Culture - analyze and explain the ways groups, societies, and cultures address human needs and concerns; construct reasoned judgments about specific cultural responses to persistent human issues; predict how data and experiences may be interpreted by people from diverse cultural perspectives and frames of reference; apply an understanding of culture as an integrated whole that explains the functions and interactions of language, literature, the arts, traditions, beliefs and values, and behavior patterns.
Visual Arts –
Standard 1. Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes
Standard 2. Using knowledge of structures and functions
Standard 3. Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas
Standard 5 Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others 


Students will:

  • understand how design interfaces with media to affect our daily lives
  • understand how to digest and analyze media
  • work collaboratively
  • use technology and improve their skills
  • understand the five concepts around which most media is constructed
  • understand how design can communicate messages of value to its audience 


• computers
• Internet connection
• LCD projector
• Microsoft Publisher (software)
• Microsoft PowerPoint (software)
• Microsoft Word (software)
• Inspiration software


• “We Are What We Watch: We Watch what We Are” – By Robert Spier (
• magazines or newspapers with a variety of target audiences (from sports fans, to elders, to young teens, etc.)
• Handouts:
“Digesting Media” (handout # 1),
“Assignment Made Ya Look” (handout # 2)
“Rubric” (handout # 3) 


• Media
• Values
• Message
• Attention 
• Design
• Construction


Set up
Find a print advertisement (from a newspaper, magazine, etc.) for a product that is well known, along with an online commercial (recommendations: or Make enough copies of the advertisement so that each student has access.
Before giving the advertisement to the students, analyze it based on the design. Additionally, review the article and reading for any difficult words or concepts you may need to review with your students ahead of time. Either create a handout that suggests the parameters of the assignment, or write them on the board. Make sure that each student has a copy of the rubric, along with 2 copies of the “Digesting Media” handout. Finally, make sure you prepare tutorials for Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Microsoft Publisher to help students who are not as proficient with this software. 
Teacher Presentation and Motivation
The purpose of this lesson is for students to become more aware of how design affects their lives, their values, and their ideas. 
Step by Step: 
Day 1

  • Have students define media, values, message, attention, design, and construction on their own. (5-10 minutes) 
  • Ask them to share their definitions with a partner, and then discuss their meaning as a class. (15-20 minutes) 
  • Present the students with a copy of a print advertisement and ask them to individually work through the “Digesting Media” handout in order to analyze the advertisement.
  • After about 20 minutes, lead a class discussion (25 minutes) regarding the assignment. Ask students to share the findings they recorded on their worksheets with the class. 
  • Present the students with the article “We are What We Watch: We Watch What We are” by Robert Spier and ask them to read it for homework. Review any difficult words or concepts in the article that your students may have trouble understanding (20 minutes). 

Day 2: 

  • Ask students to connect the article they read for homework to the experience they had digesting media in the previous class period. Discuss the findings with the class. (20 minutes) 
  • Present the students with a commercial they are familiar with.
    As a class, watch it a few times and analyze it and its design, following the “Digesting Media” framework. (30-40 minutes) 
  • Divide the students into groups of two.
  • Present students with the assignment (handout # 2), and rubric (assignment # 3) and discuss it as a class (30 minutes).

Day 3: 

  • At the beginning of class, have the students record how comfortable they feel working with the software: Microsoft Word, Microsoft Publisher, Microsoft PowerPoint. (5-10 minutes) 
  • Give tutorials on each of the three programs (this can be skipped if the students are proficient). 

Day 4: 

  • Have the students work on the project in class, allowing them to ask any questions. 

Day 5 & Day 6: 

  • Have the students present their projects to the class. 
  • Present them with the “Wrap-Up” activity. 

Wrap up: Ask students to create a concept map regarding the concepts of media, design, values, message, attention, and construction. Additionally, ask them to focus especially on the relationships between design and the rest of the concepts. 


Assess the lesson through the concept map and the relationships that students find between the concepts. Also, assess the students’ “Made Ya Look” project with the rubric. There is a rubric for the piece of media created, not for the concept map. The concept map must be a starting point for a discussion between the teacher and students. Suggest changes that can be made to re-describe or re-write the relationships between the concepts, until the student demonstrates advanced understandings of the concepts.
The lesson and experience can be differentiated in a variety of ways. For students who have difficulty working at grade level, provide them with simpler advertisements. Additionally, when the students create their own media, Microsoft Publisher has a variety of templates that can be used. Students with difficulty should be allowed to use those templates for their assignment. In terms of the concept map, the students with difficulties can be given more examples, and a longer time to complete the assignment. 

Enrichment Extension Activities

As a class, create a “How to Consume Media” or “Media Literacy” guide to be distributed to the community. Create the brochure digitally using Microsoft Publisher’s templates or on MS word so students have further experience with the software. 

Teacher Reflection

• The students were very successful in their initial analysis of the concepts and analysis of the media. They had difficulty creating media, and completing the final concept map. Once they saw some examples of the relationships, and how to analyze their own experience creating media, they were able to understand further.
• The assessment demonstrated how the students experienced the design process, and how design can be used to influence values, grab attention, etc.
• The students needed to re-visit the skills of presenting and connecting different abstract concepts. 
• Instructional strategies that were successful included allowing students classified as “special education” to use the templates for creating their media. Additionally, it helped that the concepts were analyzed first by individual students, and then discussed as a class. The discussion helped the students create new ideas and thoughts about concepts they already know a good deal about.
• The next time I use this lesson, I will give the students one more class period to work on their projects in order to further monitor their progress and make sure that they are on track for meeting the deadline.

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