Teach Argument With Horror Films & Candy Ads

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This awesome lesson uses a trick-or-treat-like structure for providing students a bit of choice (and a bit of fun) in determining which video clips they’ll be analyzing.  In the spirit of Halloween, students will be shown a combination of trailers for horror films and candy commercials — to be analyzed and synthesized throughout the course of the lesson.


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Lesson Description


“Trick or Treat: A Murderously Sweet Lesson In Rhetorical Analysis” was designed to provide students with a bit of Halloween fun while simultaneously promoting critical thinking, rhetorical analysis, and discussion.

The core of the lesson revolves around a corresponding PowerPoint Presentation (included). Students will have the option of selecting one of two doors, as shown in the graphic above. Once clicked, one of those doors will lead to a “trick” (i.e. a horror movie trailer deliberately chosen for what it offers in the way of rhetorical analysis), or a “treat” (i.e. a candy advertisement, also carefully selected with rhetorical analysis in mind).  In this manner, your students will have the opportunity to “choose their own adventure” — and the journey will be different for every class!

As students watch each short video clip, they are to conduct a rhetorical analysis on the corresponding handout (with graphic organizer). Then, at the teacher’s discretion, students will share their answers and/or discuss – either in pairs, small groups, or as a whole class.  This process of “trick or treating” can be repeated up to five times (there are five sets of doors, and ten possible video clips for analysis).

The lesson culminates with a reflective analysis. Students will be prompted to (#1) compose a paragraph that compares and contrasts the strategies employed across all horror film trailers and/or candy commercials, and (#2) compose a paragraph in which they reflect on their personal learning. Either of these paragraphs can be composed at the lesson’s end to provide closure, or can be assigned for homework. (Homework on Halloween? Booooo!)

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Lesson Features

Grades Middle and Secondary
Lesson Focus Rhetorical Analysis in Advertising & Marketing


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