Year 9 Media: Gruen Challenge

Year 9, as an introduction to their media unit, completed a Gruen challenge over the course of our double period on Friday.

After discussing the purpose of advertising and some of the most common strategies they had noticed in ads lately, students were asked to brainstorm what sorts of things would be the easiest and hardest to sell as an advertiser. They came up with some interesting answers, like convincing people to re-elect George Bush (hard to sell) or convincing people that Apple products were better than Microsoft (something they thought would be a piece of cake).

Students were then shown the clips of the Pitch segment on Gruen, in particular the “sell the invasion of New Zealand” and “sell banning religion” advertisements. We then discussed the different approaches taken to the task: playing on emotions (guilt, anger, sympathy), intellectualising the topic and humour.

They were divided into groups and given their brief: they were asked to sell the shut down of either Facebook or YouTube.

There were three parts to the task. A brainstorm sheet on which they were required to come up with an approach (humour or appealing to emotions) and then formulate 3 ideas for a theme or plot for their ad. They then had to produce a storyboard for one of these ideas, planning 9 frames plus narration.

Students then had to use a computer (limited to PCs due to our wireless being down) to produce either a video or a PowerPoint vaguely resembling what they wanted their ad to look like. They then had to present their storyboard and ad to the class.

There were prizes to be awarded for: the best ad as voted by peers, the most original ad, and best group work during the creative process.

It would have been great to have been able to give students more time on this task. Most were extremely enthusiastic and I had to award 2 group work prizes as many students really worked well together even though I had mixed up peer groups.
The most original award went to a group who turned YouTube into a disease and interviewed a (fake) doctor about the symptoms. The best ad as voted by peers went to a group whose ad demonstrated how easy it was to hack a Facebook account, thereby leaving you susceptible to all sorts of nasty things.

We also got the chance to discuss their digital footprint and responsible online behaviour during the presentations.


Apathy: when teachers care more than students about their learning.

Our staffroom today was filled with baffled teachers. Our students, across the board, had us stumped. Every class we had that day had refused to give us anything. They sapped our energy, chatted while we attempted to assist them, and made it impossible to run a class without constant interruptions. Without exaggeration, I had to ask my year 11 class to get their laptops out six times this afternoon, as a group, and then each student individually.

Any group work I issue to year 7, 8, or 11 is not completed unless the groups are given constant assistance, as they see it as an opportunity to talk disrupt others, no matter how the groups are organized. I accept that, with many low ability classes, group work is going to be difficult to introduce. However, my year 10 students, a low literacy class with such a wide variety of behavioural and learning needs, do group work, for the most part, like experts (unless 2 very disruptive students are present).

My other classes seem to need spoon feeding. I agree with, and use, extensive modeling procedures, but these kids actually seem incapable of independent thought. And I know everyone will jump down my throat right about now and tell me things like I need to set more engaging work, but I have tried such a variety of tasks, levels of difficulty, group organization, and technological integration, since the beginning of the term that I am running out of options, and frankly, hope. I dread being a chalk and talk teacher who has to stand out the front the entire lesson and talk.

I am particularly concerned about the apathy and resistance to learning which my year 11s and year 8s show. I know this is experienced right across the school too, and wondering if maybe it is a cohort effect.

Anyone that can offer suggestions or advice on how to get these kids to come to the (figurative) party, please leave a comment or contact me via twitter @LaurenForner – any suggestions welcome!