Thursday, May 15, 2014

Invention Madness

Years ago, I listened to an amazing speech at a local conference about advertising that always stuck with me.  Slowly I created and tweaked a persuasive unit on advertising.  Last year I read the book, Media Literacy in the K-12 Classroom by Frank Baker.  Two of my favorite parts were the analysis of print ads and cereal boxes.  For homework, students had to bring in an empty cereal box.  Since I don't get many magazines at home nor do my students, I put out a mass email to all the staff asking for old magazines.  I spent days combing though finding appropriate ones and pulling them all out.  Now I have more of each than I can ever use.

Many teachers tweet on the #TLAP Twitter chat about doing March Madness contests.  I was always disappointed that I couldn't find a way to incorporate it into one of my units. Finally, I found a way although it is May.

As one part of the culmination of this unit, students had to create their own inventions using two items that you can buy in the store today.  They had to draw what it would look like.  Using all the persuasive techniques they learned, they had to create a print ad along with a testimonial.

I made a cut off day to be in the competition in hopes that it would boost more students to hand it in early or on time.  I needed 64 inventions to fill the entire madness board but with 72 students I came up short.

I still moved on with the contest.  I put them in plastic sleeves so that each sleeve was the "game".  I liked that no one could see others names and not just vote for their friends although I know they told each other about theirs.

The first round was quite lengthly since students rotated around the room to read and analyze all the inventions.  Between each round, students had to wait two days since we were going to the library every other day to work on our next project that I'll be blogging about next.  They would ask me who won and tried to sneak peaks of the score card.

Each round the students found it more and more difficult.  Some of the ones who made it to the final rounds were great ideas.  I was really rooting for the Washa-Drya-Fold Machine that does all the laundry for you.  I also loved the fact that the name has a Rhode Island accent.  Students favorites were the Glamera (glasses that are also a camera), Conti-Color (contact lenses that change with your mood), Hoverstar (a hoverboard for you and two of your friends), and the Pillorder (a pillow that records and plays back your dreams).  Since we didn't have all the slots filled when we came to a "game" without a competitor I gave students a chance to vote for one that had already lost.

Many winning rounds came down to 2 to 3 votes different.  In the end, the Pillorder won by a landslide 44 to 18.  The winner won a $25 gift card to a store of their choice.

The Winner

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