I have this question posted on the Smart Board for students when they enter the classroom:
What groups do you belong to?
I walk to the front of the room and read the question aloud to the class. I then start to think aloud. "What groups do I belong to? Hmm. I am male. I am Caucasian..." and I keep going. I talk about my age, ethnicity, education level, and so on. I then ask the students to write down all the groups they belong to on a scrap piece of paper.
I then ask the students to stand behind their chair, with their list in their hands. I go through the elements of demographics, asking the students to move to various areas of the classroom to indicate their responses. For example: I have male students head to the west side of the room, and females to the east side OR I have students who were in the age group 10-13 move to the west side of the classroom and those 14-16 move to the east.
It is a fun way to get them up and moving, as well as to make connections through comparative analysis. It also helps the students to create a better basis on which to build their understanding of what demographics are.
After the students have gone through the different groups, they return to their seats for the second half of the lesson. They have now developed an general understanding of what demographics are, and we move to develop a more specific understanding, why they are important, and to whom.
I go through the remainder of the short Introducing Demographics presentation that defines demographics and introduces some ways they might be utilized. Once we have focused in a bit more, and changed our language from groupings to demographics, we will begin to apply this information to the world around us.
I ask the students to talk to me about commercials that they recall easily or that had meaning for them. Some suggestions they offer are more due to various propaganda techniques used in the ads, but some are due to the product in the ad and its relevance to them. I focus our attention on the latter. We then talk about who might want to buy the product being sold in each. For instance, we talk about toys. We talk about who wants to buy toys, who uses toys, etc. I ask the students to consider whether boys or girls prefer a particular toy, whether Hispanic kids or Caucasian kids prefer a particular toy, whether older kids or younger kids prefer a particular toy.
After we start developing this understanding, we talk about what changes advertisers and businesses make in order to reach the desired group(s) of people for their product or service. Do they use different graphics, more or fewer details and statistics, etc.
We discuss whether or not certain groups respond more or less to certain elements of pathos, ethos, and logos. I like to continue to cycle in information we have already covered to support the students building more meaningful connections between concepts.
I finish the class by assigning the students the Commercial Analysis analysis task. They are expected to watch a television show of at least 30 minutes. They are to use the worksheet provided to keep track of what specific groups are being appealed to in the show, and in the various commercial advertisements that occur during the show. I ask the students to be as specific as possible, using the groupings we practiced in class as a guideline. I also expect them to justify their decisions, using specific evidence. Students are given two days to complete the task.