Integrated Health/Media/Reading Learning Object

Filmmaking – Public Service Announcements – Making A Difference Play Presentation

Alex Macris

Alex Macris has been teaching for over 15 years.  Through his role of Computer Resource Teacher, Alex helps staff and students integrate technology into the curriculum.  He models the effective use of tool software to promote blended learning and digital literacy.

Table of Contents


Keywords: Grade 8 Learning Outcomes; Public Service Announcement (PSA); Anti-smoking commercial; Integrated Health/Reading/Media Learning Expectations; Healthy Living Grade 8 (substance use and abuse) Strand; Reading and Media Literacy Strands; Windows Movie Maker, Digital Media, Independent Research, Online Data Bases, Effective Online Searching, Evaluating Web Content, Citing Intellectual Property

Back to Top

Purpose of Learning Object

Students research why teens smoke using a variety of on-line databases.

They learn how to effectively search the internet, evaluate resources found on-line, and cite resources/intellectual property.

As a culminating task, they create a Public Service Announcement (PSA) using Windows Movie Maker to discourage a teen target audience from smoking.

This learning object incorporates reading, media, and health curriculum expectations. All media used in the PSA will be original or royalty-free. However, as an extension activity, students can be taught how to write formal letters should they choose to obtain copyright permission for use of licensed media.

Back to Top

Description of Learning Tasks


Every day, hundreds of Canadian youth start smoking and continue into adulthood. According to the Canadian Medical Association, 90 percent of all adult smokers first lit up as teenagers.

Culminating Task

Students conduct on-line searches to find research on why teenagers start to smoke. They must evaluate the research for authoritative content, highlight main ideas, and list their resources using the Modern Languages Association (MLA) citation style. Using their research, students develop an advertising campaign that specifically targets a teenage audience and discourages them from ever lighting up. The advertising campaign may be created using Windows Movie Maker software and must include original or royalty-free media.


Students demonstrate learning by: (see rubric for more details)

  • researching why teenagers start smoking and demonstrate ability to discern the main ideas in a text (Reading Component);
  • developing an advertising campaign that specifically targets a teenage audience – (Media Literacy Component);
  • showing an understanding of the link between smoking and various health problems – (Health Component).

Back to Top

Curriculum Connections

From the Grade 8 Curriculum

Reading Expectations

1.2 Identify a variety of purposes for reading and choose increasingly complex or difficult reading materials appropriate for those purposes.

1.4 Demonstrate understanding of increasingly complex and difficult texts by summarizing important ideas and explaining how the details support the main idea.

Media Literacy Expectations

3.1 Describe in detail the topic, purpose, and audience for media texts they plan to create.

3.2 Identify an appropriate form to suit the specific purpose and audience for a media text they plan to create, and explain why it is an appropriate choice.

3.3 Identify conventions and techniques appropriate to the form chosen for a media text they plan to create, and explain how they will use the conventions and techniques to help communicate their message.

3.4 Produce a variety of media texts for specific purposes and audiences, using appropriate forms, conventions, and techniques (e.g., a news broadcast about a topic – such as immigration – from a cross-curricular unit of study).Healthy Living Expectations:

Substance Use and Abuse

  • Outline the possible negative consequences of substance use and abuse.

Back to Top

Required Technology

  • Working knowledge of Windows Movie Maker software.
  • Effective understanding and use of various on-line research databases.
  • Access to computers and the internet.
  • Access to digital cameras, video cameras and knowledge of use.
  • Sample anti-smoking PSAs that have appeared on television.

LCD and laptop for classroom instruction (Smart Board would be a benefit, but not necessary).

Back to Top


Subject knowledge, interpretation of research Research is not evident. Information is confusing, incorrect, or flawed. Little or no understanding of important text implications. Research is evident. Some information is confusing, incorrect, or flawed. Some understanding of important text implications; little or no details. Research is evident in much of the project. Most information is clear, appropriate, and correct. Understands important text implications; relevant supporting details. Research is evident throughout the project. All information is clear, appropriate, and correct. Insightful understanding of important text implications; important supporting details.
Evaluating and citing sources of information Sources were questionable. Sources (if any) are not properly cited according to MLA style. Some sources were questionable. All sources (1 to 2) are properly cited according to MLA style. Students carefully evaluated sources. All sources (3 to 5) are properly cited according to MLA style. Students carefully evaluated sources. All sources (more than 5 – some of varying types) are properly cited according to MLA style.
Form, conventions, and techniques(design) Screens are either barren and stark, or confusing and cluttered. Exaggerated emphasis on graphics and special effects weakens the message and interferes with the communication of content and ideas. Multimedia elements accompany content, but there is little sign of mutual reinforcement. There is some tendency toward random use of graphical elements that do not reinforce the message. Multimedia elements and content combine to adequately deliver a high impact message with the elements and words reinforcing each other. The combination of multimedia elements and content takes communication to a superior level. There is clear attention given to balance and proportion.
Form, conventions, and techniques(originality) The project shows little evidence of originality and inventiveness. The project shows some evidence of originality and inventiveness. The project shows evidence of originality and inventiveness. The project shows significant evidence of originality and inventiveness.
Purpose and audience No evidence of connection to target audience. Users are not likely to learn from this project. Some evidence of connection to target audience. Users may learn from this project. Adequate evidence of connection to target audience. Users are likely to learn from this project. Clear evidence of connection to target audience. Frequent and clear references are made to facts, concepts, and cited resources. Users will learn from this project.
Healthy living(substance use and abuse) With limited effectiveness, this project outlines the possible negative consequences of substance use and abuse. It explains how to address age-specific situations related to personal health and well-being in which substance use or abuse is one of the factors. With some effectiveness, this project outlines the possible negative consequences of substance use and abuse. It explains how to address age-specific situations related to personal health and well-being in which substance use or abuse is one of the factors. With effectiveness, this project outlines the possible negative consequences of substance use and abuse. It explains how to address age-specific situations related to personal health and well-being in which substance use or abuse is one of the factors. With a high degree of effectiveness, this project outlines the possible negative consequences of substance use and abuse. It explains how to address age-specific situations related to personal health and well-being in which substance use or abuse is one of the factors.

Back to Top

Scope and Sequence

Lesson 1

  • Teacher asks an open-ended question, “We all would agree that smoking is bad for you, yet every year thousands of teens will light up for the first time – and many of these teens will continue to smoke well into adulthood. Why?”
  • As an entire class, brainstorm why teens light up and organize responses using a mind-map. Keep the mind-map for future comparison.

Lesson 2

  • Investigate the same open-ended question, but, this time, direct the students to the findings of research.
  • Introduce students to various on-line databases (i.e., EBSCO, Discovery Streaming, Grolier Encyclopedia, eLibrary Canada, Gale Databases).
  • Guide students through effective on-line search strategies (i.e., how to use Boolean parameters, Lexile reading levels, etc.). Students should also be made to understand the limitations of depending solely on search engines (i.e., Google) for their research (i.e., search engines cannot access the wealth of resources contained within subscription-only data bases).

Lesson 3

  • Model strategies for evaluating sources of information found on-line to ensure that what is being viewed is authoritative content.

Lesson 4

  • Discuss the importance of citing intellectual property and model how to use the MLA citation style.

Lesson 5

  • Students research the same open-ended question as in Lesson 1, using the databases discussed in Lesson 2.Students search and read two different on-line sources of information, ensuring that they have evaluated them as discussed in Lesson 3 (i.e., the sources are credible, authoritative, content and reading level are appropriate).Students are responsible for highlighting the main ideas in the text, to be shared in the next lesson, and for citing each source of information.
  • This lesson may require multiple periods. The teacher may wish to conduct a shared reading lesson with the entire class, using one of the student’s found sources of information – modeling how to highlight main ideas in text.

Lesson 6

  • Revisit the open-ended question in Lesson 1. Once again, as an entire class, brainstorm why teens light up, but this time based on research from Lesson 5 said. Organize responses using a mind-map. Compare this mind-map to the original mind-map form Lesson 1

Lesson 7

  • Introduce students to Windows Movie Maker, as well as to the culminating task and the assessment rubric.

Lesson 8

  • Show the students various sample anti-smoking PSAs that have appeared on television.
  • Deconstruct the PSAs, discussing conventions that make them effective or not. Discuss the concept of a target audience. Students evaluate the effectiveness of the sample PSAs as far as communicating with a teenage audience.

Lesson 9

  • Introduce storyboarding and allow students time to create a storyboard of their PSA. Ensure that students have equitable access to technology (i.e., cameras and computers), and ample time to complete their culminating task.

Back to Top

Accommodations or Modifications


  • Focuses on various instructional intelligences (for all students – but especially for students with an LD)
    • Spatial Intelligence – “picture smart”
    • Musical Intelligence – “music smart”
    • Linguistic Intelligence –“word smart”
    • Intrapersonal Intelligence – “self smart”
  • ESL – PSA message can be created in native language – teacher (using Google translator) can add sub-titles.
  • Allows students to focus on digital literacy skills.


  • Provide graphic organizers for online research (Boolean search parameters, focused questioning, links to databases).
  • May need to find and provide grade specific online research sources for students who may have difficulty evaluating their own reading level.
  • May need to conduct smaller guided reading groups focusing on highlighting main ideas in text.

Back to Top


  • Students can work on summative task at his/her own pace.
  • Students can choose alternative programs for this task (i.e.,. iMovie).
  • The project may be completed at school or at home. (All Windows OS computers have Windows Movie Maker software.)
  • Students have immediate ownership. While they don’t get to choose the topic, they can choose to how to deliver the message and it persuasive. They are automatically engaged and tapping into critical thinking skills.
  • Students can find sources of information geared to their reading levels using the Lexile Reading Level score.

Back to Top

Research Base

Article 1

Wenglinsky, Harold. “Technology and Achievement: The Bottom Line.” Educational Leadership 63 (2006): 29-32.

Using computers to help students work through complex problems (i.e., creating a multimedia assignment for a specific target audience) proved to be beneficial. Computers were found to be most effective when teachers used them to promote higher-order thinking skills.

As educators, we can’t focus on literacy and student achievement if we do not prepare every child for the information age in which they live, build on their technological skills set, nurture their critical thinking skills, and prepare them for the challenges of an ever increasing/evolving technological world.

Teachers need to make regular use of rich context opportunities to integrate technology and to teach students how to construct and display their learning in multiple modalities.

Article 2

Tierney, Robert J., Ernest Bond, and Jane Bresler. “Examining Literate Lives as Students Engage With Multiple Literacies.” Theory Into Practice 45 (2006): 359-67.

This article argues that when students are afforded the opportunity to engage with digital literacies, they learn an array of new ways to explore and share ideas. Technology affords them an image-enhanced means for rich explorations, exchanges of ideas, and problem-solving.

Students need to be given opportunities to view, listen to, and understand products created by others. When they create products of their own, the focus should be on using “tool software” to communicate more effectively and to create a higher level of understanding.

Technology also serves to tear down barriers for our students and allows for true differentiated learning.

Article 3

Gulek, James Cengiz, and Hakan Demirtas. “Learning With Technology: The Impact of Laptop Use on Student Achievement.” The Journal of Technology, Learning, and Assessment 3 (2005).

This article argues that there is substantial evidence that using technology as an instructional tool enhances student learning and educational outcomes. Specifically, students are more involved in collaborative work, participate in more project-based instruction, produce writing of higher quality and greater length, gain increased access to information, improve research analysis skills, and spend more time doing homework on computers.

Research has also shown that these students direct their own learning, report a greater reliance on active learning strategies, and readily engage in problem solving and critical thinking.

Back to Top

Evidence of Innovation and/or Exemplary Practice

This learning object takes an otherwise “static” lesson that of discussing what is involved in creating a PSA, and makes it dynamic one.

Students actually create their own commercials. In the process, they learn real life communication and digital literacy skills. They have the opportunity to break away from the ordinary paper and pencil task, and express themselves through a digital skill set.

The technology also allows students to work in a risk free environment, to explore and take risks, and be appreciated for it. The use of technology in this case enables students, particularly those at-risk and special ed. students, to unleash their creativity. All one has to do to see evidence of innovation and exemplary practice is to observe the increase in student engagement and focus – a clear outcome of this learning object.

Back to Top

Other Applications (Extensions)

The skills in this unit are not limited to the creation of an anti-smoking PSA. The same skills can be applied to any “digital story-telling” initiative across all subject areas. For example, students could create a documentary explaining how to add fractions for a math class, or they may create a movie trailer book report for a language class, or a newscast for a history class.

In addition, conducting effective on-line searches, evaluating on-line content, and citing sources of information are all skills which are applicable for any subject, in any grade. These are must-have skills for preparing our students for living and working in a digital global community.

Back to Top

Impact Analysis

Technology is growing at an unprecedented rate. Students of today think and learn in technological terms. They have developed, actively and passively, a sophisticated skill set – a “technological intelligence”– one which we never knew or could have imagined when we were growing up.

What are the implications? As educators, we need to tap into this skill set and use it to our advantage, or risk disengaging our students.

When technology is properly inserted into classroom practice it becomes a catalyst for change. It motivates and engages students – especially the boys. It bolsters self-esteem, and allows students to work within their comfort zone to showcase their technological prowess. It provides students with tools to express themselves effectively, and it tears down communication barriers that were otherwise insurmountable. Effective use of technology allows for differentiated instruction and authentic assessment.

A comprehensive literacy/learning environment must incorporate the use of technology to create authentic, rich-context learning experiences that, in turn, promote a constructivist, student-centered approach to learning. The 21st century workplace will be looking for people who can use technology to communicate, collaborate, analyze, create, innovate and solve problems (1).

(1) Maximizing the Impact the Pivotal Role of Technology in a 21st Century Education System. International Society for Technology Education & State Educational Technology Directors Association.

Back to Top

Additional Resources

Websites for Music/Sound Effects Media

Manual for Windows Movie Maker

Citations Made Easy

Back to Top

Copyright/Paper Citation Considerations

One of the biggest challenges (and rewards) in this unit is showing students how to make effective PSAs while using original media. Too often, students rely on media retrieved from web sources such as Google Images. They need to understand that although media can be found and downloaded off the internet, it may not be legal to alter it and/or use it in their own media productions – even if the media is cited.

Furthermore, the purchase of media off the internet (i.e., purchasing and downloading a song from iTunes) or ripping a song from a purchased CD does not give students permission to alter the media and/or use it in a new production such as a PSA.

Using on-line media is possible, but careful consideration is necessary to ensure that the media is royalty-free or that royalties are paid for the intended use.

On a final note, copyright considerations can also lead to other learning opportunities. For example, students can be taught how to write formal letters and encouraged to write to recording companies to obtain permission to use a song in their PSAs.

Back to Top