Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Starbucks and Writing

When the latest issue of Time magazine appears in my mailbox, I immediately turn to the last page and read the last column. I find that quite often, Joel Stein's or Nancy Gibbs' essays are ones that often resonate with me and would also be accessible by 7th or 8th grade students. And sometimes even with 5th and 6th graders. When Joel wrote recently about his personal experience with bed bugs in a hotel, I could pair his essay with the Time For Kids article about bed bugs to give literacy students a reading experience that was first at their reading level and that then moves them to text that is more complex. In this way, I can push their comprehension to higher levels.

What a neat surprise I had today, when I got the November 15 issue of Time and in turning to the last page, I found this advertisement for Starbucks coffee on the back:

The first thing I thought was, "I need to get me some of this coffee!" And then realizing the article's effect on me, I thought, "Self, how could this be used with students?" And oh-so-many ideas began to hit me. Aside from the obvious that it can be analyzed critically, like any advertisement, for the appeal that the author is using to entice customers, this one sentence is a great piece of writing.

A writing teacher could use it in a mini-lesson on using juicy words in writing. It could be used for a mini-lesson on personification. It would also be fun for students to think of a product and see if they could write one sentence about it that would make someone want to buy it. It could even be made multi-disciplinary by having students design their own ads for their product, thinking about graphics, size and placement of design elements and font style and size.

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