How can students use the public service announcement (PSA) format to make their powerful voices heard in the world?
PSA's can be a simple and effective way to get young students involved in civic action, whether they are advocating for environmental concerns, letting the public know about important health issues, or raising awareness for a cause -- from a school bake sale to natural disaster relief. Teachers make careful decisions about how to engage students in political causes, especially in elementary grades. The PSA format is, above all, a persuasive appeal -- which means that students can use many of the key questions they might ask of other persuasive media like advertising to understand how PSA' s are made and how they affect others. Connecting students to real issues in their communities is a way for them to understand their role in society.
ACTIVITY: Brainstorming and Creating a Public Service Announcement
1. Start with Experience. What news and current events issues are you and your students paying attention to these days? Discuss which news and current event might be most relevant and important to children right now.
Responding to Current Events News: Why is it important for young children to learn about and discuss their emotional responses to news and current events?
2. Explore Examples to Consider Adaptation to Learners and Contexts. View and discuss the work of a group of young children who discuss the problem of drugs and then design a narrative PSA about what children should do if they find drugs. This issue is relevant to children. Philadelphia remains a center of activity for the importation, wholesale distribution, and street level sales of illegal drugs on the East Coast. Open-air marijuana, cocaine, crack, and heroin transactions on street corners are a feature of daily life in some neighborhoods. View and discuss the short video, Grade 3 Children Analyze PSAs. Then view their finished video, Anti-Drug PSA, Grade 3 and consider the choices that children made in creating this video. Next, view the video created by Grade 2 students, Unlitter Us, Grade 2. Compare and contrast by asking:
What does each video make you feel?
What action is inspired by each video?
What techniques are used to attract and hold attention?
4. Compose, Create and Take Action. Identify an important social issue or a recent news event that is relevant to children. Learn about the issue and then discuss children's emotional responses. Identify a target audience for a persuasive message that could be effective in changing attitudes and behavior. Look at some examples of other PSAs on this issue to analyze "what works." Then brainstorm ideas and move through the production process, reviewing the 10-Step Model for Creating PSAs.
GUIDING QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION:
What kinds of causes and social issues are most relevant to students and how might making an effective PSA advance children's understanding of these causes?
How can teachers model critical analysis of PSA's and other positive or socially beneficial persuasive media without making students cynical about the process of making persuasive media for social change?
How should teachers balance building students' content knowledge of social causes through good research with the production skills required to make good PSAs in print, video, audio, or interactive forms?
DOGOnews.com Nicely curated current events, news and non-fiction for children ages 6 - 11 and their teachers
PBS NewsHour Extra Broadcast news for students and teachers in grades 7 - 12
Connnected Classroom: News Well-curated list created by our PVK affiliated faculty, Kristin Hokanson, offers web resources for elementary and secondary educators, including a link to YouTube resources on Journalism