Let’s Put the Information in Infomercial: Designing a PSA

Author: Sara Patricia Chavarria

Time: 4 class periods
Prepare overheads.
Photocopy rubric forms for presentations (Part 2 only)
Materials: Overhead 1: PSA guidelines
Commercial Evaluation Rubric


In today’s world, TV and commercials are commonplace. As such, health officials use Public Service Announcements to communicate good hygiene/health practices to the public. These commercials let the public know when they should be concerned about a disease or heeding a particular health practice. The students’ task in this Apply lesson will be to create a PSA for a specific public health related issue and communicate what the modern American public should consider doing in order to prevent or treat the disease.

Students will be able to:
i. Create a story board and dialogue for a PSA commercial applying what they have learned about disease prevention in previous lessons in Social Studies, Science, and Language Arts.

ii. Act out their commercial using the dialogue they have developed as well as visual aids to illustrate their message.

National Council for History in the Schools:
Historical Thinking Standards

  • Standard 2G: Draw upon visual data, literary, and musical sources.
  • Standard 5B: Marshal evidence of antecedent circumstances and contemporary factors contributing to problems and alternative courses of action.
  • Standard 5E: Formulate a position or course of action on an issue.

World History Standards

  • Era 9, Standard F: The student understands worldwide cultural trends of the second half of the 20th century.

Related and Resource Websites



Day 1
1. Start the lesson by posing the following question: If a disease appears to be eradicated in the United States but continues to pose a threat in other countries should Americans be concerned? What can we do about it?

2. Have students keep their responses in mind as they are given their next assignment. Students will attempt to create a commercial using what they learn from the poster techniques as well as the guidelines for Public Service Announcements (Overhead 1).

3. Students will be assigned into groups of 2 or 3. Student groups will be made up of students who investigated the same issue for their research in the previous lesson.

4. Referring to the research results from their previous investigations- The Science classes’ guest topics, and the Language Arts research- for this Disease cycle, students will now create a public service commercial addressing a local public health issue. The time period is today; their target audience is the general public unless they decide to limit their audience.

5. If you are not partnering with a science class to do this and therefore the students do not already have assigned local topics, a list of topics can be found in the Language Arts lesson: What messages are out there? In addition, consider the following topics:

West Nile Virus
Dengue Fever
Hepatitis C
Lyme Disease
Tick Fever
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Shaken Baby Syndrome

6. They will design a 1-2 minute commercial for historical public health concerns. They will be responsible for writing up:

a. a dialogue/script for 3 actors,
b. create a storyboard of the commercial,
c. use effective visuals (images, graphs, etc. as additional aids) and finally
d. role-play the commercial.

7. Students are to keep in mind the purpose of the commercial: To educate the public about new preventive health techniques to combat a disease. Display Overhead 1 which suggests guidelines in developing public service announcements.

8. Each commercial must have:

a. Three actors: a doctor, a patient, and nurse.
b. Commercial content must include:

-what the disease is
-clarify what your message is – what are key words or phrases that are essential to the message.
-what are the visual aids essential to the message
-the recommended preventive measure(s) to take
-what is your motivation: use statistics of mortality or chronic ill health (The use of quarantine techniques should be explored.)

9. Show students an overhead of the evaluation rubric by which their products will be evaluated.

Day 2
10. More time can be taken if students need it in order to prepare their commercials and practice their script. Remind them of their 2 minute time limit and 1 minute minimum time.

11. If there are any students who wish to practice that day they can. This way they can get feedback from the class and the teacher. The teacher can use the Evaluation Rubric form to show how the students will be evaluated.

Days 3 & 4
12. Students will role-play the commercial to the class. Remember the commercials should not last more than 2 minutes but must be at least 1 minute long.

13. The teacher can fill out individual rubrics or a rubric per team. A suggested rubric has been provided.

Lead a discussion about which commercials were most effective and why. Have the students address which commercials informed them about a disease they were unaware of. Finish by asking if the commercials have changed how they view disease. Which diseases?

Any additional research time after Day 1 to be better prepared for Day 2.

Embedded Assessment
Using the evaluation rubric, the dialog, story boards, organization, content, resource citations, and individual participation can all be assessed for understanding.

PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: November 10, 2009
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