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Pitching Your Students: A Lesson from Toy Companies

I came across this "concept" when my grade six students and I were investigating a unit of inquiry on advertising and persuasion.

Apart from being something you can use, it's also worth talking to your students about how it's used in advertisements so they can be aware of it.

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Nutshell:

  • Toy/clothing companies sometimes use models that look older than the audience they are trying to sell their toy. The same concept probably works in reverse for those of us are no longer asked for ID :-)
  • The reason is younger children look up to older children and want to be like them/have the same toys/clothes.
  • Even though it says "Ages 6+" on the box, the models advertisng the toy might look 8+.

What does it have to do with teaching?

I use this power of "wanting to be older" for good instead of evil ;-)

Basically I suggest that the lesson, idea or concept we're about to cover is meant for older kids. From my experience students see this as a challenge that they like to rise to.

It can be used for the entire class or small groups.

  • "I'm really not so sure we should try this lesson today...it's really for grade (students grade +1 or 2). But from what I've seen from you all I reckon we should give it a try. What do you think? Up for a challenge?"

  • "I just came from teaching a grade (students grade +1 or 2) math class and we were looking at algebra. We couldn't figure out this problem, what do you think it could be?"

  • "After yesterdays lesson I thought we could try something I did last year with some students in grade (students grade +1 or 2)"

The key is to use this strategy sparingly (a few times a year) and realistically (not too big an age gap).

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Tim is a passionate educator. At times has been labelled a "Maverick" (amongst other things). He is also the founder of Class Creator and author of "88 Ways to Teach Effectively" (Out mid 2016).