Two years ago, at NECC 2006 in San Diego, CA, I watched Kathy Schrock deliver an address about the use of PSAs in classrooms. I was really impressed then with the idea but not really sure where the idea of PSAs would fit well with our school's curriculum.
Then at the start of second semester, my students were beginning to write their position papers using documented research to support their position. These papers are typically in introduction to teaching the students a structured writing style, how to use in-text citations, as well as creating a works cited. Teaching the students how to write the paper is probably one of the most labor intensive things we do in 9th grade, because many of our students come to us with varying degrees of writing abilities. So, to make a long story even longer, I asked my students what they knew about PSAs at the beginning of our writing unit. Many of them knew very little about them so I decided before I asked them if they wanted to create their own PSA that they should watch some PSAs.
Last year at NECC 2007, we watched PSAs created by the students at Mabry Middle School outside of Atlanta. These were remarkable pieces of work and even more surprising, they were created by students in 7th and 8th grade.
I also found a very helpful tutorial online from Art Wolinsky at Wired Safety. In it he clearly breaks down examples of PSAs as well as introduces the purpose behind PSAs. He shows PSAs that are used to inform or persuade.
After the students completed their position paper, and watched all the examples of PSAs, we talked about how they could create their own PSAs. Would they use videos or stills? Were they going to tell the PSA using humor or a serious tone? We also reviewed Read Write Think rubric analyzing if they thought the rubric would be a good reflection of their PSA or not. The students also decided that they would like to complete the project in groups choosing one topic from their position papers to create a PSA.
We spent three days outlining, creating and refining their PSAs although they were given additional time outside of classtime to complete their project. They created PSAs about animal abuse, teen driving, the war in Iraq, and others. Overall, I was happy with the results of their projects. I am anxious to see what they all have to say about each others' once I have them posted online. As usual, some are good and some seem last minute, but I am glad I gave them the opportunity to try something new showing their understanding.
War on Iraq
Driving with Distractions
Seat Belt Use