Inferring with Ads

Thursday night, I recalled an activity that one of my supervisors used with her middle schoolers for targeting inferential skills, advertisements! She uses magazine ads that are obscure and hides the logo so the students are required to rely on the small captions and graphics to infer the product. I personally thought it was a fun idea and did google searches to find ads that were student friendly. In doing so, I came upon a couple of posts that used commercials, and I thought it was brilliant. So, yesterday, I incorporated the commercials into my sessions with high school students. I used a combination of Classroom Magic’s post and Mrs. Waters’ English’s post.

Instead of using the worksheets as guides, I asked questions throughout the commercial and paused the videos at certain points to ask the students what product was being advertised. My favorite videos were:

Darth Vader Superbowl Commercial

Sample questions and possible replies:

  • What is the child trying to do? – Trying to use superpowers like Darth Vader. Use telekinesis to levitate the doll.
  • What do you think is being advertised in this commercial? What does the child think s/he can do? – S/he thinks s/he started the car.
  • How do you know? This is a follow up question for each reply. It reinforces the use of evidence to support inferences.

Nolan Cheese Commercial:

Sample questions and possible replies:

  • What kind of mood does the music set? – calm, sad, and energetic.
  • What do you think this commercial is advertising? – this was asked when the mouse starts pumping the bar of the rat trap. So, the reply would most likely be gym.
  • What do they mean by the word strong? – the cheese is strong tasting or has a strong odor.
  • Did you think it was advertising cheese? – answers varied

Yellowbook Commercial:

I recommend starting a few seconds into the video so the students don’t know that it is a yellow book commercial.

Sample questions and possible replies:

  • Where are they? – at a vet’s office
  • What happened? How do you know? – The dog ate bird. I know because I see feathers around floating around the dog’s mouth, everyone one else gasped, the bird owner looks upset.
  • What’s the commercial for? – something animal related, pet services.
  • After revealing the product/services: Who do you think needs a lawyer? – The dog owner, the bird owner. Why do they need lawyers? The bird owner will sue the dog owner. Will the dog owner need a lawyer as well and why? Yes, to defend himself.

Obviously, not all of the questions lead to inferencing, but they’re good for comprehension and help the therapist understand the student’s perception of events as they unfold. And like with any other sessions, I used every single opportunity to include vocabulary and other goals. For example, the word strong in the second commercial is used in different ways. There are also instances of predictions. I also supplemented the activity with inferencing worksheets with short passages and guided questions for more practice. My sessions are long (45 minutes), so I try to use different activities to address the same goals in an attempt to help with generalization.

I’ll be looking for more commercials to add onto the list. 🙂


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