Turn Off the Tube

By Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, October 18, 2006

Grade Level

  • High School


  • Graphic Design

Subject Area

  • Language Arts
  • Mathematics

Lesson Time

Two or three fifty-minute class periods


In this activity, students will explore the subject of teens and television. They will design and implement a survey to gather data on teens' television viewing habits and their opinions regarding television in general. Students will design informational materials to inspire students to spend less time watching television. After distributing the informational materials, students will survey teens a second time and analyze the data to see if the information campaign impacted the amount of time students spent watching television.

National Standards

Standard 6. Level IV. Understands and applies basic and advanced concepts of statistics and data analysis
1. Selects and uses the best method of representing and describing a set of data (e.g., scatter plot, line graph, two-way table)
2. Understands measures of central tendency and variability (e.g., standard deviation, range, quartile deviation) and their applications to specific situations
Standard 9. Level IV. Understands the general nature and uses of mathematics
1. Understands that mathematics is the study of any pattern or relationship, but natural science is the study of those patterns that are relevant to the observable world
4. Understands that theories in mathematics are greatly influenced by practical issues; real-world problems sometimes result in new mathematical theories and pure mathematical theories sometimes have highly practical applications
 Language Arts
Standard 1. Level IV. Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process
6. Uses strategies to adapt writing for different purposes (e.g., to explain, inform, analyze, entertain, reflect, persuade)
7. Writes expository compositions (e.g., synthesizes and organizes information from first- and second-hand sources, including books, magazines, computer data banks, and the community; uses a variety of techniques to develop the main idea [names, describes, or differentiates parts; compares or contrasts; examines the history of a subject; cites an anecdote to provide an example; illustrates through a scenario; provides interesting facts about the subject]; distinguishes relative importance of facts, data, and ideas; uses appropriate technical terms and notations)
Standard 2. Level IV. Uses the stylistic and rhetorical aspects of writing
1. Uses precise and descriptive language that clarifies and enhances ideas and supports different purposes (e.g., to stimulate the imagination of the reader, to translate concepts into simpler or more easily understood terms, to achieve a specific tone, to explain concepts in literature)

Common Core Standards

Anchors for Reading:

Key Ideas and Details:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

Craft and Structure:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.6 Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.9 Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.10 Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

Anchor Standards for Writing:

Text Types and Purposes:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details and well-structured event sequences.

Production and Distribution of Writing:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.

Research to Build and Present Knowledge:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.7Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Range of Writing:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Anchor standards for Speaking and Listening:

Comprehension and Collaboration:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.


Evaluate a speaker's point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.5 Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

Anchor standards for Language:

Conventions of Standard English:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

Knowledge of Language:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.3 Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.


Students will do the following:
  • collect, organize, represent, and interpret data
  • design informational material to educate teens on a chosen topic
  • collect, organize, and display relevant data


  • "Turn off the Tube" worksheet
  • Internet websites


Building Background
Real World Surveys
In this activity, students analyze a survey and examine the effectiveness of its questions.
1. Ask students to complete the "Winning 100 Million Dollars" survey found on the Quizopolis.com website. Print the page that contains students' final questions and answers. https://www.quizopolis.com/million_dollar_survey.php
2. Divide the class into small groups. Have the students read the information on the sites below that detail how to write effective survey questions. Ask students to use this information to evaluate the effectiveness of the questions on the "Winning 100 Million Dollars" survey. Tell students to write a brief evaluation of at least five of the questions that were contained in the survey.
Statpac Website "Qualities of a Good Survey Question"
Science Buddies on writing effective survey questions
Keene State College "Designing Surveys That Count"
3. Ask groups to share their survey question evaluations with the class.
Steps for Learning
Turn Off the Tube Campaign
In this activity, students will create a survey to learn about students' television viewing habits. They will analyze the data from the survey and use the information to create a graph. They will also design a campaign to persuade students to watch less television.
1. Tell the students that they are going to create a survey to poll the student body about their television viewing habits. Divide the class into small groups. Ask each group to write a minimum of ten survey questions.
Students may use the information on the websites below to learn more about television and the impact it might have on teenagers:
Stanford Prevention Research Center of the Stanford School of Medicine 'Examine the Negative Effects of Excessive Television'  https://notv.stanford.edu
American Association of Pediatrics "Understanding the Impact of Media on Children and Teens"
Cyber College Website "The Social Impact of Television"
2. After all of the groups have completed their list of survey questions, have them share the questions with the class. As a class, select questions from the various groups to create one whole-class survey.
3. Explain to students that they are going to give the poll to fellow students at their school. Tell them that they will analyze and plot the results of the survey onto a graph.
4. Tell students that they will work in small groups to create an advertising campaign targeted toward getting students in their school to watch less television. Explain that after the student population has been exposed to the campaign, they will survey their fellow students a second time. Tell students that they will analyze, compare and plot the results of the two surveys to evaluate how effective their campaign was in getting students to watch less television.
5. Divide the class into small groups and pass out the "Turn off the Tube" worksheet. Tell students to perform the tasks outlined in the worksheet.
6. After the results of the second survey have been completed, have students share with the class their charts containing the survey results and the advertising materials they created.
7. Compile all of the groups' results onto one chart and display it in the school.


Create a class rubric with your students that will help them understand the effectiveness of their design process. Use the following guidelines to help create the rubric.
-How effective was your brainstorming in generating ideas?Excellent        Good           Adequate           Poor
-Rate the quality of your survey questions.
Excellent        Good            Adequate          Poor
-Rate how effectively you analyzed the results from the survey. Excellent        Good            Adequate           Poor
-Rate the quality of your campaign.
Excellent        Good            Adequate           Poor
-How effective was your campaign?
Excellent        Good            Adequate          Poor

Enrichment Extension Activities

Share the Knowledge
Write a newspaper article about the project. Submit it to your school or local newspaper.
  1. Analyzing and graphing TV watching habits is a topic I would like my students to investigate. I could also picture doing this with eating habits. Having the class create a rubric together is also something I have never tried before. I would have them come up with questions first before I gave them any leading questions.

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