Winter Vacation Class (Inventions)

January 16, 2014

Vacation class: The time when teachers have to corral their best efforts to motivate the most unmotivated of students. The school year is over. They don't care. And I can't blame them.

This session I decided to plan a project in which my students would invent a product and eventually pitch it to the class.

For the first week of class, we focused on aspects of existing products and their companies. We had a look at some inventions via Ellen's Kid Inventors segments and judged them based on how useful they would be and if we would buy them. In order to see what we might need to invent to make life easier or more enjoyable, we brainstormed some of life's shortcomings. Students invented a product, and then decided what their company name and logo would be. With a bit of extra time, we also made business cards for each member of their imaginary company.

Once we had our products imagined, it was time to advertise. We looked at magazine advertisements; judging ones that already exist, assessing what makes a good advertisement, and making our own. We did the same with TV commercials; first judging commercials that exist, deciding what should be included in a good commercial, and then moved into production. Students developed a quick storyboard for their commercials and I had to encourage them to fully develop their script. This part took quite a bit of guidance due to their limited English ability in the context of trying to sell things. We spent one day recording, and another in the computer lab to put things together. In the end, the commercials turned out great and the students were more into it than I anticipated.

"Pitch Day" was an opportunity for students to sell their products to the rest of the class. First, students prepared a poster and presentation for their product. Each student got fake money which, after hearing the pitches, would be invested into the other companies. The investment process was secret (kids dished out their investments one group at a time) and all that was left to do was to count the revenue, and announce the winner! The winner got a certificate and a bag of goods.

Overall, this was probably one of my most successful vacation/camp classes. The students were great, they were really into the project, and it required a normal to minimum amount of preparation by me.

Here are a few of the commercials:


After this week, I won't be seeing my kids until the new semester in March.
8 days until the Big Bang concert!
36 days until Guam!

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