Social Studies 20-4: Nationalism in Canada and the World
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What Makes Canada "Canada"?

Activity: Media Carries the Message

Formative Assessment

Throughout this suggested activity, you will support students in achieving the following skill that is the focus for assessment:

The following formative assessment opportunity is provided to help students unpack and develop the focus skill for assessment. Feedback prompts are also provided to help students enhance their demonstration of the focus skill for this activity. Formative assessment support is not intended to generate a grade or score.

Formative Assessment: Assessment for Learning Opportunity

Analyze Media Messages

Involve students in peer coaching so they can provide and receive feedback about the comprehensiveness of their analysis of the media messages. Use the feedback prompts below to provide structure in guiding students through this formative assessment opportunity.

Feedback Prompts:

  • Is a specific perspective clear (evident) in the video?
  • How well have I identified:
    • how the perspective might have influenced the message?
    • how the context of the video might have influenced the message?

These feedback prompts can be posted on an interactive white board or bulletin board, or incorporated into a feedback tool that can be copied for student use. Samples of tools created for a similar skill within a different formative assessment context may be found in the Social Studies 20-4 Formative Assessment Summary PDF.

Linking to the Summative Assessment Task

  • As students analyze media messages through the suggested activity Media Carries the Message, they will have completed the second portion of the Summative Assessment Task: What Makes Canada "Canada"? Word
  • Students should consult the assessment task and the assessment task rubric Word to ensure that they have provided the information required.
  • Encourage students to use the feedback received during the formative assessment opportunity to make enhancements to their work in progress.
  • If necessary, continue to use the feedback prompts from the formative assessment opportunity to coach students toward completion of a quality product.

Students analyze how the use of media can enhance the message for an intended audience, as well as influence the reaction of the audience.

Instructional Support

A number of possible tasks are provided in this suggested activity. It is not intended that you work through all of the tasks, but rather select those tasks and resources that will best meet the learning needs of your students. The focus should be on ensuring that students have the background and support to be successful with the skill that is the focus for assessment (analyze media messages).

Setting the Context for Learning

  • Show students a video clip or a sampling of advertisement clips where media were used to enhance the message. Sample clips might include the following:
  • Discuss with students how the producers of commercials use strategies such as music, humour and cultural references to engage the audience. Ask students to consider how the advertisements shown would have been less effective without these elements. How is the producer using these elements to draw out specific emotional responses from the audience?

Analyze Media Messages

  • Share with students some of the commonly used marketing strategies aimed at teens. Discuss with students the importance of considering the reasons why a particular media message was constructed.
  • Select a video clip to show to students, identify why the media message in the clip was created, and analyze how these reasons impacted the message presented to the audience. A possible clip could be Tim Hortons Cross Canada Road Trip, which explores feelings of national identity.
  • Use the selected video clip with students to examine how the message would change if the author had chosen to use different media elements to represent a different perspective. Prompt students to describe how the selected music may be different or how different images might have been used. At the end of this discussion, students should be able to identify that media messages are constructed with a specific purpose that is dependent on how the creator intends to influence the audience.
  • Through Media Smarts: Canada's Centre for Digital and Media Literacy, access the Key Concepts for Media Literacy and accompanying questions.
  • Use a video that students will not access for their summative assessment, and have them work in pairs or small groups to review the key concepts and answer the accompanying questions in relation to the video. Discuss with students how these questions can help them analyze the impact of the media message.
  • As students begin to work on the second part of the summative assessment task, analyze media messages, have them review the videos they are using to complete the task. Encourage them to examine the videos with a different lens, based on the key concepts for media literacy and accompanying questions.
  • As part of their analysis, students will need to identify the perspective and intent of each video. Explain to students that they will need to provide an explanation of how the choices made by the creator of each video were designed to have an impact on the audience in a specific manner.

Suggested Supporting Resources

Textbook References

Student Basic Resource—McGraw-Hill Ryerson, Understanding Nationalism:

  • Pages 51–54 How Have People Responded to Some Factors That Shape Nationalism?
  • Pages 55–59 How Have People in Canada Responded to Some Factors That Shape Nationalism?

Teaching Resource—McGraw-Hill Ryerson, Understanding Nationalism:

  • Reproducible 1.2.5 Some Perspectives on Nationalism within Canada

Web Resources

Web Links for Online Sources:


Critical Challenges: