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An Original Wacky We-Search Report housed at WritingFix
this writing across the curriculum assignment inspires summarizing, not plagiarizing

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The Wacky Advertisement (with Disclaimer) Activity

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This Activity's Title:

The Wacky
(with Disclaimer)

sharing interesting and true facts at the end of a phony advertisement

This wacky activity was created by Northern Nevada teacher Stephanie Kveum.

This original summarizing activity was inspired by Barry Lane's awesome book, 51 Wacky We-Search Reports. Barry's fifty-one writing formats in his book teach students how to summarize (not plagiarize) facts from readings or from class notes. The book also encourages humor in the classroom, and using it will help you build a community among your student writers. If you don't own this book, but like the assignment on this page, we strongly recommend you purchase a copy.

Overview of this Wacky Writing Activity:

When you listen to radio or television advertisements, you sometimes hear, “Caution: This product might lead to the loss of vision. Temporary blindness may occur. If this occurs for more than three days, please see your doctor immediately.” This disclaimer provides important information that a patient might need to know before taking a specific medication. To use this as a writing activity in the classroom, you can have students create disclaimers for a short advertisement that can include cause and effect or just simply factual or funny information.

The Set-up:

Saturday Night Live had a wonderful parody of an advertisement for the "Happy Fun Ball." The ad was mostly made up of disclaimers that got funnier and funnier as the ad progressed. If possible, show your students this "Happy Fun Ball" video as an introduction to this lesson.

Begin by discussing different types of disclaimers for products that students might have heard on the radio or television. After this discussion, share the short "advertisement" below. Have students brainstorm aloud what else might happen if the rules are not followed. Write these ideas on the board as disclaimer statements so that students can have a better understanding of the format of disclaimer sentences or phrases, making the advertisement even longer.

Script for Classroom "Advertisement":

Announcer (in happy voice) Mr. Smith's is a good teacher, and his class is fun. All students should follow the rules in Mr. Smith’s class. (using deeper voice) Caution: Mr. Smith gets upset when rules are not followed. Students may not enjoy Mr. Smith’s class when the rules are broken. The loss of recess might occur after breaking the rules. Students are responsible for their own actions when they break the rules.

The Punch:

Pretend that anything (person, place, or thing) might end up in a radio or television commercial or advertisement where there is a disclaimer at the end.

What would the planet Mars have as its advertisement and in its disclaimer? Come one, come all, come live on the beautiful Mars! Everyone is welcome. Caution: The lack of oxygen may cause death to humans on Mars. Etc.”

What would an apple have as its advertisement and in its disclaimer? “An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Caution: When biting an apple you may lose a tooth. Rot may cause indigestion and stomach pain. Etc.”

Have students create a one or two sentence advertisement and a disclaimer to go with it for people, places, or things you are studying.

A Funny Tip:

When writing disclaimers use facts and the truth. “Truth beats silly” and using real facts will add to the humor in the disclaimer. You may also want to encourage students to “amplify and exaggerate” ideas in order to create more humor if they are struggling with finding humor in the truth.



A Teacher-Made Sample:

Advertisement with disclaimers:
Working at a computer all day is a great job!
Be your own boss! Set your own hours!

Caution: Daily use of a computer may lead to blurred vision. Your new nickname may become the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Please excuse the stiffness in your elbows, there is no cure. When sitting all day you may experience a numb or sore bottom or wrinkled pants. Computer companies are not responsible for the purchase of glasses, wrist braces, or massage chairs. Doctors recommend a six hour exercise regimen after sitting all day.

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