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Argument Writing and Persuasive Videos

Argument Writing and Persuasive Videos
Sean Carroll

Grade 5 integrate media studies and argument writing in a week long investigation.

As part of Grade 5’s first writing unit, they crafted research based argument essays. One topic they focused on was animals being kept in captivity in zoos. First they researched both sides of the argument, looking at the pros and cons of zoos. They analysed claims and evidence found in articles they read, and considered whether it was a strong and valid reason to support for or against zoos.  

Students use the "Claim, Analyse, Question" note taking template

In addition to the writing unit, students have been engaged in a yearlong unit under the transdisciplinary theme of How We Express Ourselves.  In this unit, students investigate how messages are manipulated to target specific audience. Click the following link to see student’s getting started activity. (Getting Started)

While students were researching about zoos, they also watched videos promoting the benefits of zoos as well as documenting some of the problems with zoos.  Students noticed that very different techniques were being used to promote each side of the debate. Some of the techniques students noticed were; choice of music, tone of the narrator’s voice, lighting, animals shown, camera angle, and shot type. 

Knowing some of the techniques of persuasive video making and keen to explore the idea of manipulating messages to target an audience, we decided to create our own persuasive videos.  Students decided on the message they wanted to present and the arguments they would use to support their message. Students then created a storyboard of different images, scenes, and animals they would use in their video. Students planned their time own time in zoo, deciding what exhibits to visit, what shots to take, and when to eat lunch.

Next, it was off to the zoo to collect the footage. 

Students then went to the editing room.  They poured over hundreds of photos and videos looking for the best shots, angles, and lighting that would help present their message.  Students had some experience using iMovie and were able to use features such as voice overs, transitions, photo filters, music, sounds, speeding up clips, slowing down clips, text overlays, and split screens to help refine the video and manipulate some of the images. Students often used the same image, but through manipulation, where able to present a different message.  Here are two sample videos. One showing the benefits of zoos, the other showing the negative side of zoos.

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