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Choose2Matter PSAs

posted Feb 24, 2015, 9:15 AM by   [ updated Sep 11, 2016, 3:04 PM by ]

1. What do we notice about PSAs in general?

2. Which PSAs do we think are especially good and why?

3. How can we create PSAs as powerful and effective as these?

  • After building a list of characteristics, students will ‘Think-Pair-Share’ in response to Questions #2 and 3 above.
  • Some characteristics of PSAs worth noting:

Typically, PSAs:

    • are short (usually 60 seconds or less)
    • present one single issue
    • inform the viewer of key, relevant facts
    • have a clear call to action (usually indicated through text on screen)
    • might or might not include people
    • might  or might not use music
    • sometimes use voice-overs
    • sometimes use special effects (like black and white)
    • might use transitions/editing to enhance the video
    • aim to leave a lasting impact
Critical Viewing/ Crafting Pursuasion:
  • In small groups, students watch the same PSAs as they did in the prior lesson, though this time with a much more specific focus on the techniques used to persuade the audience. 
  • As they view the PSAs, students ask themselves:
    • Where do I see examples of persuasion?
    • How is sound used as a persuasive technique?
  • Students track responses to these questions.
  • The class reconvenes to discuss and chart responses.
  • Some things worth noting: 

Persuasion can be visually created through:

    •  powerful images – video, photographs, artwork
    •  expressions on people’s faces
    •  use of color vs. black and white
    •  use of celebrities
    •  use of regular people
    •  clear calls to action

Persuasion can be created through sound via:

    • play on words
    • repetition
    • humor
    • imperative commands
    • music to create tone
    • lyrics that add to meaning and/or tone
    • tone of actor/narrator’s voices
    • silence

Brainstorming your PSA

PSA Task Sheet and Rubric

PSA Ideas List

  • Distribute and review PSA task sheet and PSA project rubric with students.
  • In groups, students brainstorm initial ideas for persuasive techniques to use in their PSA.
  • Regroup the class, and explain that sharing ideas is essential for crafting a powerful PSA.  As individual members of a group, it will be the responsibility of every student to generate ideas and share these with others. 
  • Explain that students will each be creating an individual concept plan for their group’s PSA. Since their ideas are still in the ‘initial concept phase’, they should by now have a sense of how the PSA will work as a whole, but they may not have answers to every question.  For example, they might know they want to include music, but not know what song. Or they might know they need a powerful statistic, but not know which one to use.
  • Share with students an example “concept plan” for a PSA.  The concept plan envisions what the viewer will see and hear throughout the PSA. 

Example Plan

We see

We hear

Text: Imagine your life without an education

No audio

Door slamming shut

Text: Your career

Start of “Better Days” by The Goo Goo Dolls

Text: You’d have no chance.

Song continues

Another door slamming shut.

Text: Your future

Song continues

Text: But everyone deserves a chance.

Song continues

Another door slamming shut

Text: Your life

Song continues

Statistic or fact

Song continues

More doors slamming

Song continues

Text: They need your help.

Song continues

Info about The Inter-Country People’s Aid

Song continues

End with text: It’s so simple.  It’s so SMART.

Song continues


  • Point out that while this example plan is clear, there are still some questions unanswered.  The point is to plan out ideas as clearly as possible, even if some questions remain.
  • Students work independently, developing and planning out their own concept for a PSA, creating a t-chart modeled after the example plan provided.  
  • Students should be prepared to share their concept plan with their group the following day.

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