Most students have fond memories of a particular teacher, project or grade. Different events in a student’s career can offer a turning point, where the individual discovers what career path they should follow, a love or passion of a certain subject, or are simply touched by a certain teacher. Some of my fondest memories are of middle school. Although it’s an award time for most kids, as puberty is setting in, cliques are forming, and hormones are raging, I encountered some of my favorite teachers and lessons during this three year period. One of which was a marketing project where we formed groups and created a never before seen product. We were responsible for designing it, promoting it, creating a logo and brand name, as well as filming a commercial. So many different skills and elements went into this project, which is why I found it so beneficial. Check out my takeaway from this assignment and find out how it benefits students on multiple levels.
Problem Solving Skills
Students of all ages need problem solving skills. And this holds true for well after graduation as well. Not all things in life will comes easy, which means finding new and different ways to achieve your intended goal is crucial for success. When you ask students to create a product that’s never been seen before, they’re automatically going to start with a problem. This is the mark of any good inventor. You must identify a problem and then offer people a solution. Depending on the age of your students, their invention doesn’t need to be totally possible. Meaning, they don’t need to explain exactly how the product would work from soup to nuts. Our invention was a piggy bank that sorted your change and kept a running total of how much you had saved using a digital counter on the front. The concept was good and it was a practical, useful tool. But at the middle school level, we weren’t required to explain the mechanics of the product. It was our job to simply identify a problem and offer a product to solve it. This is the perfect project for teaching students this life skill.
Teamwork is another skill that’s required both in school and in the workforce. And any type of group project requires a certain level of teamwork. Students must work together in order to complete the task at hand. This may require them to delegate different jobs to different members of the group. A certain level of compromise must also be achieved. Depending on the age and maturity level, you may need to help facilitate this process. If one member of the group is extremely artistic or creative, perhaps they can be in charge of designing the products name, logo, and story board. The video portion of the project also requires a creative mind. Whichever student is most outspoken and confident can either act in the commercial or take the role of speaker when it comes time to present their idea to the class.
This element goes along with problem solving, to an extent. Once the product idea and concept is chosen, it’s time to get creative. Students must ask themselves a long list of questions, including:
- Who is our target audience?
- What will the product look like?
- How much should we sell it for?
- How much will it cost to make?
- How can we make our commercial memorable?
- What should our brand name be?
- Do we want to use a memorable jingle or theme song?
These just a handful of ways students can get creative with this type of project. It also introduces elements of a sales and marketing mentality, which may just spark the next great inventor or salesperson in your class.
Many people struggle with public speaking. In fact, nearly 75% of the population, or approximately 238 million people, feel uncomfortable and nervous speaking in front of others. Unfortunately, a certain level of public speaking is required in most aspects of life. Whether it’s presenting a project or idea to your boss, interviewing for a job, sitting before an acceptance panel for college or teaching. It’s important that students have some experience with public speaking. When students complete this project, they’ll need to present it to the class. Encourage each member of the group to speak at least once during the presentation. Perhaps one student can introduce the product name and the physical example. Another can introduce the video and explain what the class is about to see. While another student can be responsible for discussing the price, target audience, and reason for the product’s creation. Even a few minutes speaking in front of the class can help students push past their apprehension about public speaking.
Film and Editing
Although film and editing skills aren’t required in all aspects of life, it’s always beneficial for students to try new things and gain exposure and experience with different skills. When it comes time for the team to film and edit their commercial, students will gain exposure with different filming techniques as well as editing. The students chosen to act in the commercial will gain experience in front of the camera, memorizing line, and get the chance to experiment with acting. Who knows, you may have future filmmakers and directors on your hands!
Projects like these are beneficial for so many different reasons. Students are introduced to a variety of life skills and are given the opportunity to explore a variety of different career paths. They learn to work together and expand their horizons. Any time you can incorporate a lesson or project that covers so many important concepts at once, it’s a win for both the students and the teacher.
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