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I received the e-mail about the Burger King Spongebob commercial on Tuesday. in my 6th grade Honors Language Arts class we spent yesterday discussing it from various views. We looked up the original lyrics to "Baby Got Back" and I read them to my students. We looked at the way that the songs vulgar lyrics talk about explict sex acts, the objectification of women, and racial insults. We discussed the sexualization of women and the idea of using sex to sell toys and food to children.

The students were quite angry when we found a statement from Burger King assuring "Marketing Daily" that they would only show this commercial during programing geard towards adults because they have seen it on as early as 4:00 and even said that it aired during the Charlie Brown Easter Special!

Today my students all wrote persuasive letters to Burger King expressing their disappointment and urging them not to use sex to sell to children. They were very well written letters, and I encouraged them to be honest. Some of them said that while they thought it was very funny, they also found it innappropriate for kids their age, and were shocked to think of even younger kids seeig it. They came up with alternative ideas to make the ad better and suggested them to BK. I am very proud to send these 18 letters off to Burger King Corporate Headquarters.
 

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Wow! Good for you-and your students!

Out of curiosity, is this a public school? If so, did you have to get "higher up" approval to address such an issue with this age group?

ETA... Actually, I am also curious if you needed parental permission to listen to, read and discuss the lyrics?
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by blessed mommy View Post

ETA... Actually, I am also curious if you needed parental permission to listen to, read and discuss the lyrics?
I was wondering the same thing.

I think media literacy is so important, good for you for using your valuable class time this way. I saw that commercial and found it utterly appalling.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
It is a public school, and I did not stop to ask permission, the principal happened to stop in yesterday and was impressed with the thought process of the students.

When reading the lyrics, I did skip over the word *uck, but I left in all of the "figurative language" because we compared the spongebob lyrics with the original looking for "hidden" innappropriateness inthe lyrics. one student pointed out that in the extended version of the commercial, the part where the original song sings the "my annaconda don't want none unless you got buns hun" the "king" stretches out a measuring tape and measures the girl's butt. A double meaning I'm sure.

One student wanted to bring in the original song to listen to and I did not allow that. IMO, there is a difference between having the students listen to it (easier to end up singing it inthe hall, get caught up inthe music, rather than really listening to the lyrics, etc) and having the teacher read through it and discuss it. I did not pass out copies to the kids, and i only read it once. And really, each of them has a signed internet permission slip for school use, and I was able to get the lyrics from a few different websites (not blocked by school firewall) so the kids could easily have gotten them by themselves (or worse) had I told them to research the issue themselves. This way, at least, I was able to filter a lot of the inappropriate comments I have found online about the commercial.

I will share more later, dh has to get back to work, and with him goes my air-card, so no internet.
 

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What an awesome lesson for your students. Teaching them to evaluate content and think for themselves is so often overlooked in schools. I know you didn't post this so you could receive kudos, but I just have to say that I am really happy when my kids get teachers like you!
 

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I googled to find that commercial and it is unbelievable! It seems like a 'what is the stupidest corporate thing someone could do?' kind of brainless ad. But I'm sure they do know what they're doing. And that's what makes it sick.

Good for you. I think 6th grade is the perfect time to work on these issues.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks
I appreciate the support! It was actually good timing because we had just finished a 2 week unit on inventors, patents, & inventions. One of the things we did was to look at what happens after a patent expires and other companies begin producing the same thing. We compared generic products to name brand products to determine whether generic or name brand was a better deal in the end (conclusion was~depends on the product! Garbage bags-name brand, dandruff shampoo-half said generic because it has same active ingrediants but was cheaper, other half said they would pay more for name brand because generic smelled bad! and so on) We talked about labels and marketing, but did not get big into advertising, so it was easy to flow back into it.
 

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mommyto3girls -- I was intrigued by your approach to writing through real life issues or experiences. I teach writing at a homeschool co op and like to find ways to incorporate real life issues in to what we do. I was wondering if you would mind sharing more of the types of writing assignments or projects you have done in your class?

Thanks,
Kellie
 

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I have been thinking about your post for a few days, momto3. My daughter is going to be in 6th grade in the fall, and will be "in the honors English class". We are somewhat protective of our children, mainly wanting to preserve their childhood as long as possible--really not wanting to sound prudish here, b/c I'm not.

I like what you talked about as far as respect for women, etc. I'm trying to figure out when I would have come across "sexualization of women" in a class in jr. high or high school. My freshman year of high school, our Eng. teacher had to have signed permission for us to watch Romeo and Juliet after we read it. My reaction is, that this sounds like a GREAT lesson plan, I'm just wondering how the kids at this age dealt with wording like I'm describing below.

Just so you know I don't have my head in the sand, at this time my 10 yo dd has not heard of the phrase "sexualization", although she has known about "basics" for a couple of years, and I made sure we talked about rape and other things so she knows these things. She also is aware of lots of bad things that happen in the world, but she still (finally) plays with American Girl dolls and loves it, and is still happily in her childhood, even as her body is making changes and stuff. I don't see big changes happening in that regard for at least another year, probably 2. She's my oldest, but does not watch TV (her choice) except for movies/videos from time to time.

(I also know that emotionally my dd is a bit young, but surely not the youngest, although she is also one of the youngest in her grade).

Thanks for your thoughts. It makes it more personal to think it's MY kid who would be in your class.
 

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While my kids are well out of 6th grade, I really am not sure I would have appreciated this lesson were they in that age group. I am nowhere near a prude, but at 12ish, I would certainly have liked to have some forewarning about this discussion.

And just because I may have signed a permission slip allowing them to access the 'Net at school? Doesn't extend to their teacher accessing stuff on their behalf.

The fact that you didn't see fit to go through the school administration would give me pause. Sorry.
 

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This is a fantastic lesson. I think you did a great job. Parents cannot monitor every move/ lesson that a teacher does in the classroom. To me, as a parent and a fellow teacher, I would be able to tell (if you were my children's teacher), at this point in the school year what type of teacher you were.

At this point, I would trust you wholeheartedly to make choices about lessons that you feel are developmentally appropriate for my child. I would not question such a lesson, even if I took pause at the song and the commercial.

All kinds of higher level critical thinking going on here, with a real world example. Kids will see that commercial, even if not at home, then at a friend's house. Better to discuss why it is degrading to women, and better to do it with a responsible teacher.

Great job.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by mtiger View Post
The fact that you didn't see fit to go through the school administration would give me pause. Sorry.
Different communities have very different standards of what is appropriate for school discussions.

A good teacher knows what is acceptable in the community they are teaching in, and matches their instruction to those standards.

A lesson like the one described here would have been fine in the school system I taught in, but would have been controversial in the one right next door, and never allowed two counties away.

I would have done something like the lesson described with my seventh graders. All of them listened to the uncensored versions of songs that were far more raunchy than Baby Got Back.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I have not been able to get on for a few days (we are on break and I am spring cleaning and spending time with the family)

In some areas, i know that this would not be appropriate for 6th grade (either at all, or without parental permission) however, where i teach it is very much an appropriate age. I teach in a very large urban district. (one of the 5 largest in Ohio) The majority of our students are street smart from a very early age, every year we have multiple pregnancies in our middle school (grades 6, 7, & 8) Vulgar sexual talk is rampant on the busses, in the halls, in notes, etc. Most students are unsupervised afterschool, and many all night long. I can not control what they are exposed to after school, nor can I control much of what happens at school when they are outside of my classroom. However, for the 88 minutes i have them each day (Language Arts is double periods) I can ensure that acceptance, respect, and understanding of the people we share a classroom, school, community, & planet with, is encouraged, understood, discussed, and acted upon. Usually it comes out in little "real world talks" when an issue is brought up by a student, or if name calling (***, ****, retard, etc.) happens to occur in my room (very rare after the first few weeks of school) . I will take 5 or 10 minutes to talk to the class or have a class discussion about the issue, on occasion the topic lends itself to be a full lesson. This is how the Spongebob/BK/advertising rights & responsibilities lesson came to be. I did not do this lesson with my non-honors classes, as i knew the chances of keeping the discussion of the lyrics and sexualization o women, on topic would be very hard and would possibly end up turning inappropriate much too quickly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
My response is in red

Quote:

Originally Posted by mtiger View Post
While my kids are well out of 6th grade, I really am not sure I would have appreciated this lesson were they in that age group. I am nowhere near a prude, but at 12ish, I would certainly have liked to have some forewarning about this discussion.

The only way to have forewarned parents about the original discussion would have been to not discuss the topic when the kids brought the issue to me. I already knew about it, but it was my students who wanted to discuss it. We have "real world" talks often in my room, religious tolerance, human rights issues, war, politics, breastfeeding, environment (talking cloth diapers first grossed them out then made sense), I have never had a parent complain about any of the topics we have discussed (I have been teaching for 10 1/2 years in the same district)

And just because I may have signed a permission slip allowing them to access the 'Net at school? Doesn't extend to their teacher accessing stuff on their behalf.

Trust me, the things i have seen the kids try to access themselves on school computers is much worse. And really, the teacher can bring any information from the internet in for class use even if you did not sign the release. My point was, I was not bringing anything in that they could not have gotten on their own. Had i assigned this to them in computer lab and had them look up inormation themselves, I would not have been able to filter all of the information that comes up when you google "spongebob burger king commercial"

The fact that you didn't see fit to go through the school administration would give me pause. Sorry.

I have never gone to administration to ask about what I teach in my classroom. I don't know of any teacher I have ever taught with doing that. We have 1,200 students in our school, 1 principal, 2 assistant principals, and 2 deans. I don't know where they would ever find the time to "approve" it if we did
 
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