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Lesson Plans

Use this Lesson Plan with the following health topics or with other relevant content from the textbook:
  • Personal Health
  • Peer Pressure

Media Literacy Lesson Plan: Recognizing Propaganda—Unreliable Testimony
Student Resource: Rinselle Shampoo Advertisement
Media Type: Print Advertisement
Health Topic: Personal Health, Peer Pressure

Objectives

After completing this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Recognize the importance of personal hygiene and grooming.
  • Demonstrate health advocacy skills in an original advertisement.
  • Apply the media literacy skill of recognizing unreliable testimony to an ad for a hair care product.

Introducing the Lesson

Ask students to secretly cast a ballot for the celebrity they would most like to meet. Collect ballots, and read aloud some of the choices. Note that all of the individuals named are attractive people. Discuss whether an attractive appearance simply "happens" or whether these celebrities have proper hygiene habits, including washing their hair, bathing, and so on. Note that personal hygiene is especially important for teens, whose bodies are undergoing changes that can result in, among other things, facial blemishes.

Teaching Strategies

Download or bring to class images of shampoos and other hair care products. Ask whether students are aware of chemical differences among them. (They will in all likelihood not be). Note that the choice of grooming products is a matter of personal taste. Ask how students go about choosing these products for themselves. Elicit whether anyone ever bought a product on the strength of a celebrity endorsement.

Point out that such endorsements are a form of propaganda, a media technique for selling an idea, goods, or services on false pretenses. Note that testimonials—whether they come from athletes, movie stars, recording artists, or other people in the public eye—should be considered for what they are: unreliable testimony. Illustrate the point by having students brainstorm TV commercials currently aired that feature a celebrity. Ask them to name the celebrity, the product, and whether that celebrity is widely considered an expert on this product. Direct students to the ad for shampoo in the Student Resources.

Assign the following to student groups to use in their media analysis. You may either follow up the analysis with a class discussion of group answers, or may assign the analysis to be applied by individual students to another media construction as homework.

Follow up

  1. Awareness. What does the picture show? Who is the main focus of this picture? At whom do you think this advertisement is targeted?
  2. Analysis. Does the ad explain what makes Torio Alvarez an authority on hair care products? Do his words convince you of his expertise? If not, why not?
  3. Evaluation. Do you think this ad is sending a message about health? Why or why not? Is the message persuasive? What could have been done to make it more persuasive?
  4. Communication. If you saw this ad in a magazine, would you stop to look at it? Would you read the words in it? Would the ad make you want to try this product? Why or why not?

Applying Media Skills

In order to judge whether a particular media construction featuring a celebrity is an example of propaganda, you need to know whether that person is a legitimate authority on the subject. Some celebrities, for example, have devoted their free time, and even money, to a cause such as the health of the environment.

Choose one of the celebrity endorsers discussed during the pre-analysis discussion of this ad. Investigate that individual using print or online resources. Then create your own written non-propaganda advertisement for or against believing that individual. Submit your ad for possible publication in the school newspaper.

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