Have you recently seen a preview for a new TV show that is soon to air on your favorite local network, and wondered to yourself, how the hell did they come up with that idea? Perhaps you might find it a wee bit interesting or, you might think it completely bizarre! In teaching my students the concept of writing for a purpose, I have found the best way to do so, is to do a class unit that discusses some of the popular TV shows that are currently running on air.
In a recent class I did whole group discussions of TV shows such as Modern Family, Family Guy, Desperate Housewife’s, Criminal Minds, and some premium shows such as Dexter, and Breaking Bad. . Rather than just focusing on the general differences in interests, we broke down our audience into possible gender, demographics, ethnicity/race, age, education, social activities. With a deeper understanding of the potential audience, it became easier for my students to understand the purpose of that particular writing. Based on what we know of our audience, what are the secondary purposes of these shows-aside from entertaining? Now, how do these shows try to persuade their potential audience? Here we discussed the content of the show, the language used, the characters, and the little moral lessons that are buried behind each episode.
I found this unit plan to be most effective. The students were engaged! They participated, expressed their opinion, and communicated with not just myself, but with each other. Writing can be fun, and the strategies of writing are present in even the things we enjoy to do in our downtime-away from writing.