1. Before students enter the room, write the following
question on the board: “What is the difference
between information presented persuasively, and information
presented without bias?”
Allow students about 5 minutes to consider this question and
write down their thoughts. Ask a few students to share what
they have written, and begin a short class discussion.
2. In the class discussion, use student answers to the prompt
to steer the conversation. Some student responses to the prompt
might be “persuasive information tries to get you to
do something” and “unbiased information is just
to inform you”. If students do not see this distinction
right away, ask them: What is the purpose of presenting information
in a persuasive way? What is the purpose of the unbiased information?
Help students to understand that more often than not information
is presented in persuasive ways in order to attain desired
aims. Ask the class: Where do we see persuasion most often
in our daily lives? Discuss student responses, and make sure
they make note of advertising as one main source.
3. Tell the class that as an introduction to our unit on persuasive
reading and writing, we are going to watch a film that will
discuss the various ways that advertisers use persuasion. Handout
the study guide questions to each student. Tell them to pay
close attention to the film, and to answer questions from the
study guide as they watch. Spend 25-30 minutes watching the
first half of the video. You may want to provide a location
for students to go if they are offended by the material in
4. If time allows, discuss issues raised by the film at the
end of the period.
1. At the beginning of the period, have students take
out their study guides for “The Merchants of Cool”, and answer
any questions they may have about the film. Clarify confusions,
and continue watching the film.
2. Watch the remainder of the film, which should take about
3. After the class has finished the film, you will prepare
the students for the next day’s discussion by having
them write a short reflection piece. This assignment can be
started in class, or assigned for homework (see below).
Prepare students for tomorrow’s discussion by asking them what they learned
from the film.
Make sure that students understand that the media (radio,
television, printed media) is major influence on teens
in our society, and that the information they present to
teens has a specific purpose and bias. Study guides should
be collected for assessing student understanding of these
and other concepts related to persuasive advertising. Student
responses during discussion also serve as a valuable means
Have students respond to the film by writing down their observations,
opinions, reactions, and questions. Minimum length should be
1 page. Students usually have a lot to say about the film.
You may also ask them to write a summary of the film if you