Reading visual texts with “The Call,” the Super Bowl halftime show trailer

Photo cred

Okay, so I know this isn’t exactly poetry, but isn’t it? What even is poetry? Can a visual or a commercial be considered a poem? Whether you think so or not, this lesson offers students an opportunity to practice the skills of close-reading and formulating insights and analysis using a highly engaging and currently relevant visual text: the Super Bowl halftime show trailer, titled “The Call.”

According to this article on Literacy Today, “[i]n order to read visual texts, students need to understand the way visual language works to convey meaning. We must help our students think critically about the images that make up their world. Many of the same strategies used to make sense of print, can be used to understand a visual text. Like print, visual language has its own genres, features, codes and conventions. All of which work together in the construction of meaning.”

This lesson is ideal for middle school or high school students and can be given in-person or virtually.

First, you will need this Google Slide presentation to lead students through the lesson.

Slide preview from the lesson linked above

Share this Close-Reading Chart handout with students to record their findings as they watch and close-read segments of “The Call.” You can either print it off or share it electronically.

Using the same Close-Reading Chart, your students can work individually, in pairs, or in groups to really dig into the text and formulate insights and analysis on skills such as Setting, Characterization, Symbolism, and more!

Preview of Close-Reading Chart

One teacher who used this lesson says: Today we did the first section together. My students were all into it. That’s never happened! It is almost impossible to get them to put their phone down, but today they were more than willing. They all participated and were excited to share. My students represent 20 different countries. They have varied levels of English and varied levels of formal education. Today they were all equals. I’m looking forward to the next part! Here is a modified version of the lesson for ESL learners created by Jamianne Krall at Harrisburg High School. Thank you, Jamianne!

I hope your students enjoy! If you decide to use this lesson in your classroom, please share the results on social media using the #TeachLivingPoets hashtag! And, if you feel so inclined, you can support all the work I do with this website with a little Venmo hug @MelAlterSmith. Everything always is and will always be free on this site (and no ads!) so every little bit of support helps. Thank you for reading, thank you for sharing, thank you for being a teacher, and thank you for all you do every day in the classroom.

3 thoughts on “Reading visual texts with “The Call,” the Super Bowl halftime show trailer

  1. Thank you! As soon as I saw this trailer, I knew I was going to lead off with this in my Media Studies elective which starts this Monday. This past week, I shared the trailer with a few colleagues, because I find it mesmerizing and think it’s such a great visual text to discuss representation, societal values, etc.

    I love your close reading lesson, though. Perfect timing. Thank you again and again:)

    Ann-Marie

    On Sat, Jan 22, 2022 at 3:22 PM #TeachLivingPoets wrote:

    > #TeachLivingPoets posted: ” Photo cred Okay, so I know this isn’t exactly > poetry, but isn’t it? What even is poetry? Can a visual or a commercial be > considered a poem? Whether you think so or not, this lesson offers students > an opportunity to practice the skills of close-rea” >

    Like

  2. I love this idea. The close reading section would work beautifully with something like Edpuzzle too, if your students – like mine – won’t actually stop when they should.

    Like

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